Ibaraki Prefecture has reclaimed the dubious honor of least attractive of Japan’s 47 prefectures, according to an annual survey — one year after losing its cellar-dweller title to Saga Prefecture.
In the 2023 survey released Saturday by Brand Research Institute, a Tokyo-based private research firm, Ibaraki was ranked last for the 12th time since the rankings began in 2009 after being dethroned by Saga, in Kyushu Prefecture, in 2022.
Ibaraki, east of Tokyo, rose to 46th in last year’s rankings, but again fell to the bottom of this year’s survey, as Saga edged it out by garnering 13.8 “attractiveness points” versus Ibaraki’s 13.7 points.
Meanwhile, Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost prefecture, topped the rankings for the 15th consecutive year, followed by the ancient capital of Kyoto and tropical Okinawa taking the No. 3 spot. Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture rounded out the top five.
The online survey was conducted from late June to early July, targeting people from their 20s to 70s, asking them to rate the attractiveness of each prefecture on a five-point scale. Some 34,000 people responded.
Ibaraki, home to 2.8 million people and one of the seven prefectures that make up the Kanto region, has sought to use its notoriety as the least attractive prefecture to promote local tourism, often with tongue-in-cheek efforts.
These, however, have yielded mixed results — despite the prefecture’s easy access from Tokyo and its location along Japan’s Pacific coast.
"Ibaraki's overall reputation is improving, but the tourist attractions are not being fully publicized," said Akio Tanaka, president of Brand Research Institute.
In one of its latest efforts to bring in more visitors, the prefecture, in partnership with East Japan Railway, or JR East, kicked off a large-scale “Ibaraki Destination Campaign” this month.