Amongst all the towns in Shikoku, Kamikatsu has the smallest population.
Both depopulation and ageing have progressed to the point that 1 in every 2 inhabitants is over 65-years-old. While generally in Japan 75+ year-olds are known as “latter-stage elderly”, in this town they are known as “elderly with a chance”! And the reason is that there are many older ladies who are still active in the leaf business (selling decorative natural leaves for use in Japanese cuisine).
Also, with the aim of stopping incineration and landfill waste by 2020, Kamikatsu is also known for being the first town in the country to make a zero declaration.
All the townspeople bring their trash to trash stations and separate it into 34 categories.
As it is a pioneer in tackling the problems faced by many rural towns, and getting positive results, it is often visited by government officials from other parts of the country.
“I hope they like Kamikatsu. If they come all the way here, we’d like them to try some delicious dishes made with fresh Kamikatsu-grown vegetables.”
cafe polestar opened in December 2013 to allow people to enjoy Kamikatsu with all five senses. Polestar refers to Polaris (the North Star), and just like Polaris shining in the night sky, this shop aims to become a shining landmark for Kamikatsu.
The daily changing lunch costs JPY1000.
Many people come even from afar to enjoy the delicious dishes and tranquil atmosphere,
and the number of people coming just for the cafe is increasing, too. At first sight it may seem like any ordinary cafe, but along with along with the town’s zero waste activities, the shop has also introduced its own zero waste credo including measures to avoid wasting food and producing trash such as allowing customers to take home any food they can’t finish, as well as having customers use their own bottles and tumblers for takeout drinks.
When the shop first opened, apparently there were some conflicts in terms of how to run it. Some felt that maybe they shoud make it more convenient or add some more services. However, preserving the clear air, clean water and the abundance of land for the future is what they decided they should be doing. In thinking about the town of Kamikatsu 100 years from now, they chose to select one matter at a time. Each of those things is what makes this shop unique and is the reason visitors love it.
As well as baked sweets, the shop also offers Indian style achar pickles made with the local specialty, yuko citrus. Give them a try, too. 🙂
Location: 32-1 Hirama, Fukuhara, Kamikatsu, Katsuura district, Tokushima prefecture
Closed: Thursdays (May also be closed due to scheduled events or reservations)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers:
Text: Kumiko Tobita
Photographs: Daisuke Chiba
Kumiko Tobita I was born in 1973 and currently live in Tokushima Prefecture. I have been working at a publishing company in Tokushima for over 10 years now, and in addition to being the editor-in-chief of a monthly magazine, I also am involved in producing mooks, business pamphlets and websites. I always want to learn as fast as possible about delicious, fun, or new things. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about autobiographies, self-publication editing, or e-books. Since April 2015, I have been a part of an area development group, and my lifework involves regional resources and emigration measures.
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