In a move more commonly associated with seniors seeking a quiet place to retire, an increasing number of young couples are showing interest in relocating to the countryside from Tokyo and other urban centers, drawn by cheap land and hopes of a better environment for their children.

"The trend reflects diversification of young people's values," said Hiroshi Takahashi, 69, head of Furusato Kaiki Shien Center, a nonprofit organization that serves as a liaison between local governments and urbanites interested in moving to rural Japan.

On a sunny weekend in June, seven people from three families were planting rice seedlings in a paddy in Ina, Nagano Prefecture, an area sandwiched between the Southern and Central Japan Alps, in an event organized by the municipal government.