It was about a year ago when i first saw a video about Kamikatsu. I remember how impressed i was that there is an official zero waste town in Asia. Kamikatsu was the main reason why i chose to travel Japan, but to actually be given a chance to volunteer there, was way beyond my expectation and I can't be more happy and proud about it.
Here's a short video clip that i have done about Kamikatsu. I didn't intend to do a clip at first, knowing that there are already many more professional videos done about the town. I didn't see the need to duplicate efforts; but then i realised that there ain't any in mandarin. There are so many Taiwanese and Hong Kong tourists in Japan, so i thought it will be good to do a video with mandarin subtitles to reach out to them. So here is my very simple video about Kamikatsu and the awesome things that they are doing:
Date: 21st November 2016 - 15th December 2016
I volunteered at Kamikatsu for about 1 month. It's kinda different from wwoofing as food and accommodation wasn't included, but i think they are going to start a wwoofing account soon, it will be so awesome!
Here's a summary of the amount i spent there:
Total Expenditure: SGD$345
Transport: $56 (including bus from osaka to tokushima)
Food (MSIG): $83 (i only buy the cheapest ingredients, and thankfully, i got a lot of free treats and received many free fresh vegetables from the farmers there :) )
Shopping: $41 (i needed to buy some clothes because it was getting cold)
Accommodation: $165 (it's 500 yen per day for accommodation fee, 300 yen per day for utilities, and 30 yen per day for common service expenses)
How to get there?
My Volunteering Experiences
When i first decided to volunteer here, i had the impression that i'll be merely doing hand-on things like helping to sort the waste at the recycling centre and serving and cleaning at the zero waste cafe. I didn't expect to be able to work so closely with the team on projects to reduce food waste and food packaging, and even had an event specially organised for me to share about my experiences at The Food Bank Singapore. It was such a rewarding journey for me and i'm so thankful for it.
I spent a day at the Gomi Station helping the residents sort their waste into the different categories. I'm pretty sure that most of you are curious about what exactly are the 45 categories and what can it be converted into, so here you go!
The first time i met Terumi, the owner of Cafe Polestar, was 2 months before i started volunteering at Kamikatsu. My Kagawa wwoofing host brought me to Kamikatsu (because i kept bugging him to bring me there) to attend a tour conducted by Terumi. Back then i told her that my dream is to start a Zero Waste Cafe in Singapore, and she told me that she owns a Zero Waste Cafe in Kamikatsu! That was how it all started, with me deciding to volunteer at Kamikatsu to not only learn about their waste management, but also about cafe management.
I usually help out at the cafe on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday, mainly assisting in cleaning, serving, food preparation, and some translating. Lunch is provided to all staffs included me! Their food is so delicious! I specially love their pastries!
I had such an enjoyable time volunteering there! Terumi, her husband Takuya, and master chef are so nice and kind. I learnt a lot about coffee making and food presentation too!
Be sure to check them out:
カフェ・ポールスター (Cafe Polestar, Kamikatsu)
Address: Japan, 〒771-4501 徳島県勝浦郡上勝町大字福原字平間32−1
I usually volunteer at Zero Waste Academy on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Because i used to work for The Food Bank Singapore, my main tasks was to help them to look into food waste and food packaging reduction. I was amazed by how receptive they were about my suggestions and how efficient they are in putting things into action.
I had the chance to join them for their Zero Waste Kamikatsu sharing sessions in various schools.
I had the chance to sit in a meeting with their corporate partner to discuss about manufacturing a durable paper bag to replace their current plastic bags.
I even had an event specially organised for me to share about The Food Bank Singapore with the residents of Kamikatsu and some ideas that i had to improve Kamikatsu as a Zero Waste Town.
All these were unexpected, and i can't be more glad about it. It felt really good that besides learning from them, i get to also contribute a little to this wonderful town.
Besides zero waste, there's another thing extremely interesting about this town.
You know how Japanese are very particular about food presentation? We often see plastic leaf decorations on the Japanese dishes right? There's a company called Irodori that works with the elderly at Kamikatsu to harvest leafs and sell them to high class restaurants all over Japan!
Kamikatsu climate is extremely suitable for growing beautiful leafs. They have a wide variety of pretty leafs all year round.
What i like most is that the company does not hire the elderly, instead, they partner with them. That means all the profits from the sale of the leafs go directly to the elderly, just a cut of it goes to Irodori as commission. So the elderly there are actually extremely rich and happy. haha.
How it works is that the company created a online system where they share information about what types of leafs are on demand, quantity, and destination. The elderly will then bid for the leafs that they would like to supply and state the quantity that they are able to supply, pack them, and then send to the logistic company for delivery.
I had the opportunity to volunteer a day with an elderly to see how things were done. It was such an eye-opener. Kudos to the boss of Irodori and his team for this very worthy business idea.
Other Interesting Experience
Zero Waste Academy has a craft shop where they sell goods that are made from unwanted materials. I had the chance to learn how to make the above bag in a most old school method! It was so fun!
All in all, It was such a rewarding journey for me to be able to volunteer at Kamakatsu. I'm so in love with the town! The people that I've worked with there are so capable and inspiring. I'm pretty sure that i'll be back again.
I hope you guys will also get the chance to experience what I've experience! Feel free to ask me anything :)