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Cosmopolitan Rurality, Depopulation, and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in 21st-Century J ...

Chapter 1:  The Narrow Expressway to Oku
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Cosmopolitan Rurality, Depopulation, and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in 21st-Century Japan

Chapter 1

The Narrow Expressway to Oku

草の戸も

住替る代ぞ

ひなの家

kusa no to mo
sumikawaru yo zo
hina no ie

Even a thatched hut
May change with a new owner
Into a house decorated with dolls1

—Matsuo Basho, Oku no Hosomichi

About 500 kilometers north of Tokyo one can take exit 36-1 off of the Tōhoku Expressway (東北自動車道 Tōhoku Jidōsha-dō), pay a toll of about 11,000 yen if you’ve driven from Tokyo, and emerge into mantis green expanses of rice fields dotted with ceramic-sided houses and parking-lot clad shopping malls. In spring and summer, the emerald hues