Welcome to Kamikatsu!
Nestled in the lush green mountains covering Tokushima prefecture is where you will find us, a tiny village of about 1500 residents. But Kamikatsu is not just any village - since 2003 it is the first village in Japan to declare for zero-waste, and even to today there is no garbage truck here in the village. Instead, residents clean and separate their waste into a current 45 different categories, which they must bring in themselves to the village’s “gomi station” for sorting and proper disposal.
Here in Kamikatsu everyone must be responsible for their garbage, making sure to compost all organic matter at home, and cleaning their other waste for proper sorting and recycling. It is a very unique system to be carried out on such a wide scale, but it is not a difficult goal to aim for by any community.
In our home we are a family of six, living together in the village. Your host, Terumi, was born and raised in Kamikatsu (as is Terumi’s 4 year old son) and your other host, Linda, is Canadian but living in Kamikatsu.
Together we want to welcome you into our village, to help us in our current project of creating a permaculture building and planting an organic garden. Our aim is to invite people from all over the world to come and experience the zero-waste system that Kamikatsu has built, and in the process of living and working together to share different ideas about how to further the necessity of sustainability in our every day lives no matter where we are living.
The building itself is currently empty, and our renovations have not yet started. We want to turn it into a hostel and community, where more people can come into contact with a circular economy where we turn our waste into compost and that compost into fertilizer for our garden which will then fuel us in return with the bounty of organic vegetables. The work will vary depending on what stage of construction we are in, but the ideal helper is someone who is not afraid to get their hands dirty whether helping in construction or working in our garden.
Anyone with experience in permaculture or organic farming is appreciated, but everyone is welcome to come learn together (and make mistakes in the process I’m sure). We also would love to have anyone interested in painting to help turn our walls into works of art, and help us to paint murals or whatever else your heart desires.
In return we will provide a room in a traditional Japanese house, where you will be living with us and sharing meals together (3 meals a day are provided). We also will help you coordinate volunteering opportunities in the village, such as working to see for yourself our famous “gomi station” and how the town’s recycling system works. We can organize days out with local organic farmers to learn their traditional methods, go on trips to the ocean and try your hand at the traditional art of aizume (indigo dyeing), and meet local artisans and perhaps taking short apprenticeships to learn their skills.
Our days are quite flexible and will change according to what needs to be done. And we really appreciate communication and believe that openness is the key to creating a good working and living environment, so please always be courageous to speak up about your needs!
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
You will have a wide range of opportunities to experience life in the mountain village of Kamikatsu, in the beautiful countryside of Japan. These include volunteering at the local garbage station to see how the town recycles their waste, visiting local businesses, such as the award-winning Italian restaurant Pertonare (yes, even in the countryside people love great food ;) and Zero Waste craft brewery Rise and Win (ditto for great beer ;)
In addition there are many local farmers here growing Tokushima specialties like aizume (or indigo for dyeing), irodori (decorative leaf farming) and awa-bancha (local specialty of fermented tea) and Kamikatsu is also home to many artisans who can teach you their traditional crafts.
The opportunities here are many, so it will really depend on what you would like to experience!
Ultimately we believe that innovation and change comes from a wide range of places, and our motivation behind starting our internship program is to become a crossroads for the exchange of new ideas.
We are interested in meeting people from all over the world, from a variety of backgrounds, to share what you know and to learn from what we know.
Only in mutual learning and understanding, we believe, can we change the world a little at a time.
So if you believe in our mission too, then we want to meet you! Looking forward to a wonderful time together in beautiful Kamikatsu!
We are currently starting our project to open a new eco hostel, which we want to build as a permaculture space. Help us in the tasks that this entails, including some limited construction, gardening to create an organic garden, painting, moving furniture etc.
We also want to share the zero-waste ethos of Kamikatsu, so by living with us we want you to experience what it means to not have a traditional garbage system. This includes composting, and washing and cleaning all our packaging waste and sorting it correctly. We will teach you the separation requirements, and then we ask that you comply with them as stringently as possible. Perhaps you will not agree with this system and think that it’s not for you, which is completely fine. But during your time with us we ask that you stick to the rules of our shared community, and to keep an open mind!
Chinese (Mandarin): Fluent
You will receive your own room in a traditional Japanese house, living alongside 4 other members of the family and another intern if we are hosting two people simultaneously. It is a traditional Japanese home with tatami floors. Bedding, linen, and blankets will all be provided. Please bring your own towel and toiletries. There is a washer and dryer in the house that you are free to use, and a Japanese bath and shower unit that is very relaxing (especially in the winter time). We have one toilet to be shared by everyone.
The house consists of your two hosts Terumi and Linda, and Terumi’s husband, son, and brother.
Three meals a day will be provided. Breakfast materials will be available, but as mornings are usually a bit of a rush, we often ask our interns to prepare it for themselves whenever it is not being prepared for everyone. Please let us know beforehand if you have any special dietary needs.
It is important to keep in mind that since we will all be living together, it is essential that we all chip in to keep the house neat and tidy. Please keep an eye out on dishes in the sink, dirty floors etc and it is very appreciated when interns can all pitch in without being asked. Granted with a four year old in the house it is sometimes difficult to keep an orderly house but when we all work together it creates a much nicer and healthier living environment for everyone!
Conversational English is not a problem at home and appreciated for practice (Linda can speak Mandarin as well and some French).
Since we are lucky to be situated in the zero-waste village of Kamikatsu, we want to help you experience as many aspects of this beautiful area as possible. Your days here are flexible as we will make the schedule together every week. Let us know what you are interested in, and we will do our best to tailor the experience to that!
Some examples of activities in Kamikatsu and around beautiful Tokushima prefecture are:
-The Kuru Kuru Shop: where Kamikatsu residents (and anybody else) exchange their un-needed items freely, to recycle rather than needing to buy them new. This effort has prevented more than 15tonnes of treasures from going into the waste
- Kuru Kuru Craft Shop: Upcycling old materials into new items created by local artisans (including the selling of beautiful old kimonos)
- Rise & Win Brewery: This incredible building is built with recycled material, they serve great food and craft beer Portland style
- Climbing local mountains
- Surfing in the south of Tokushima
- Visiting local organic farms
- Experience aizume, traditional indigo dyeing
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week