Rural tourism, which is often interpreted as rural development initiatives, has been extensively studied in a Japanese context; however, this has been typically observed at a community level, and the host households were assumed as homogeneous. Therefore, this article explores rural tourism’s potential as a tool for territorial development in Japan, and augments established literature by studying how rural tourism contributes to sustainable livelihoods at the household level in an aging community and a developed economy. For this purpose, a qualitative study observed a farm inn group in the town of Noto, a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) site in Japan. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) rural tourism in a remote/isolated region has changed the host households’ livelihood assets; (2) the economic benefits from rural tourism are marginal to host households; and (3) the benefits other than income earnings exceed the economic benefits for aging communities. The residents’ quality of life has improved in this super-aging rural community, although the economic benefits are still marginal to most host households. Tourists have brought vitality to these remote villages, and a lack of young residents to inherit these farm inn businesses presents a bottleneck to the industry’s future development. Social capital should be strengthened by forming social networks with the local government and private sectors.
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