Tokushima’s town of Kakimatsu, or “Kamikatsu-cho” as its called in Japanese, is known as one of the most beautiful villages in Shikoku, with impressive mountain backdrops, scenic rivers, and lush green valleys as far as the eye can see. On top of being blessed with great natural beauty, the local community is small but thriving, and there are a range of interesting projects and delicious eateries, as well as an American-styled craft beer brewery.
How to get to Kamikatsu
Getting to Kamikatsu-cho using public transportation is easier than expected, with local bus connections running throughout the day. From Tokushima Station, get on bus number 82 to Yokose-Nishi. You will be dropped off at the Yokose-Nishi bus stop, close to Kamikatsu itself.
The drive from Tokushima to Yokose-Nishi is not unpleasant, with the concrete cityscape eventually giving way to winding mountain roads, surrounded by trees and a river trailing along the roadside. To the left-hand side, occasional shrines and temples can be seen, while fishermen cast out their lines into the water on the right.
When you finally reach your destination (after approximately an hour-long ride) Yokose-Nishi is not a difficult place to wait, with a crystal-clear river running behind the bus stop area, and trees as far as the eyes can see, mixed with a few houses in various states of use.
After waiting at Yokose-Nishi, the local Kamikatsu bus will pick you up – the bus itself is more like a medium sized shuttle, and the driver is friendly and helpful, alerting you when you reach your destination. (Personally, I stopped at Onsen Iriguchi, which is close to Café Polestar as well as a scenic river view.)
Getting around Kamikatsu: Food, Folklore, and Friendly locals.
The Kamikatsu area itself is thickly forested, and the road into the main part of the town is filled with citrus trees drooping onto the roadside, and an impressive swath of green spanning from the bottom of the valleys to the top of the mountains.
There are a number of volunteer taxi drivers in Kamikatsu, who are happy to interact with foreign visitors and act as a guide. The volunteer guides have a wealth of local knowledge, and traveling alongside a local ensures that you will not miss any interesting details, facts, or folklore about the town. One such bit of local knowledge is that in Kamikatsu, money does quite literally grow on trees.
A notable source of income for the Kamikatsu area is the sale of decorative leaves, or tsumamono. Many of these leaves are prized as decorations by restaurants, hotels, and other businesses around Japan. These ornamental leaves can also be found alongside the fare at Cafe Polestar, a trendy and delicious cafe that wouldn’t be out of place in Osaka or Kyoto.
The area is also home to many wild animals, including deer, wild boar, and the notorious tanuki, or raccoon dog. In Japanese folklore, the tanuki is said to possess magical properties, which usually materialize in the form of benevolent, or at least benign, tricks. One such trick which is undoubtedly familiar to Kamikatsu locals is the ability to turn leaves into gold – perhaps it is for this reason that the town features a number of tanuki-related decorations, including a large painted mural by the roadside.
To call Kamikatsu a town is perhaps somewhat of a misnomer, as it consists of 52 or so smaller areas or subdivisions. While the population is fairly stable around 1600, many cottages and farms are hidden behind or nestled among imposing mountains and forests. In winter, the area is blanketed with a layer of snow thick enough to effectively block many people from leaving their homes.
Nevertheless, there is a strong sense of community and togetherness here. It is not unusual for the local school teacher to stop in the middle of the road because he has some extra sweet potatoes to share with an acquaintance. Similarly, the openness and warmth is extended to foreign visitors, who are greeted with a surprising and enthusiastic amount of English.
Ecotourism in Kamikatsu: The Zero Waste Town
One of Kamikatsu’s main international claims to fame is its devotion to the local Zero Waste Project – an initiative which seeks to eliminate the waste which often comes with modern consumer culture. In Japan especially, it can be difficult to escape the omnipresent plastic-wrapped serviettes, individually packaged snacks, and single-use utensils.
The local waste management site in Kamikatsu is bustling with activity, and through strenuous recycling, reusing, and reducing, the local zero waste project is a unique and successful model for environmentally conscious living.
It is no wonder that the town’s inhabitants should seek to maintain their environment, being exposed to some of the most beautiful and pristine mountain vistas in the country. Kamikatsu is home to the Kashihara rice fields, ranked among the top 100 in Japan, which certainly live up to their reputation. A good view of the town’s beautiful rice terraces can be seen from the superb vantage point of the Moku Moku Moku artwork.
While Kamikatsu’s agricultural scenery and impressive mountain backdrops alone are worth visiting for, there is also a small but thriving local culture scene. As well as the aforementioned Cafe Polestar, which seems to attract a large variety of people, there is also Rise & Win – a craft beer brewery resembling a red barn transplanted straight from Portland, Oregon.
Both exterior and interior are an interesting sight in rural Tokushima, and even those with virtually no Japanese language skills can find themselves discussing Belgian and New Zealand beer varieties with one of the knowledgeable staff members.
The local farmers’ market is also not to be underestimated, and is one of the most scenic you’ll find anywhere, with a dramatic valley backdrop behind it, visible from the viewing platform out back. There is a wide range of delicious organic produce, as well as baked goods created using special yeast known as Tennen Koubo.
Kamikatsu is a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese eco-tourism, or experiencing a taste of life in rural Japan. With its beautiful rice fields, sweeping valleys, and looming mountains, the natural area is stunning, and complemented by the genuine friendliness and welcoming nature of the local population.
Kamikatsu Farmers Market
Address: 76−2 Shimohiura, O’aza Fukuhara aza, Kamikatsu-cho, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima
Close on Tuesday
Address: 32−1 Hirama, O’aza Fukuhara aza, Kamikatsu-cho, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima
Hour: 10:00-19:00, close on Thursday
Rise & Win Brewery
Address: 237-2, Hirama Masaki, Kamikatsu-cho, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima
Give us your Like
A travel writer and wildlife enthusiast currently based in Shikoku, Japan. Having previously lived in New Zealand, I'm especially interested in exploring places with a focus on ecotourism and the natural environment. Highlights of my experience in Japan so far include being mobbed by rabbits on Ōkunoshima, sleeping in a beachside Mongolian yurt on the art island of Naoshima, and countless trips around the many natural wonders of Shikoku.
> Speaking of Setouchi, the must-eat item is seafood! – A selection of 7 spots where you can try fresh seafood.
> A selection of 7 cafes and restaurants in Setouchi with superb scenery and views of the sea.
> A tranquil garden full of Japanese beauty and a huge carpet of green moss. / Gallery Teahouse Kokemushiro (Seiyo-shi, Ehime)
> 3 places for barhopping in Yokogawawhich carefully selected by a “hard-drinking” writer / Nice Yukari, Gohan-ya Haru-chan, and Trois Copain
> Please fully enjoy local sake brewed in Tokushima at the shop where you can “buy and drink.” / Taro Saketen (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)
> A century-old Japanese house which an Onomichi merchant used as a villa has been renovated for accommodation. / The house rental “Kujira Bekkan” (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> An inn where you can find “ordinary Kobe” / Guesthouse MAYA (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)
> This could be the best choice for your stay in Awajishima! How about having a family trip while staying at a hot spring resort where you can get a great ocean view? / Hotel New Awaji Group (Sumoto-shi, Hyogo)
> Come and see, rail fans! A new base for a circular sightseeing tour in Shikoku, which is produced by JR SHIKOKU./ 4S STAY Awaikeda Sta.(Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)
> Books, a bar, and international exchange!? 3 selections of hotel and guesthouses which have attractive little perks in the center of Hiroshima / (KIRO Hiroshima -THE SHARE HOTELS-, EN HIROSHIMA, and 36HOSTEL)
> Visit historic spots in the city center of Hiroshima on foot and learn about the history of peace (Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima)
> This is the ultimate soothing trip – feel the sense and the heart of Japan in Uchiko Town and Ozu City in Ehime.
> Beauty exists in every detailed corner of your eyesight! 8 spots where you can see wonderful views of Setouchi and its beautiful islands.
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi
> A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima
> Let’s enjoy a liberating new Setouchi voyage by “SEA SPICA”!
> The last report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.5. STU48 members attended the launching ceremony. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.4. STU48 members paint the ship’s logo! / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the merging of the superstructure and the base of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.3 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi. Vol.2 shows you the “Reversal Procedure” where the ship is turned over. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> Shimanami Kaido - Cyclist's Paradise
> Onomichi U2 and the Giant Store – the perfect partners for enjoying the Shimanami Kaidō
> Eating, Cycling & Getting Warm : Akiyoshidai Karst Road (Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
> Kasaoka Island Hopping by Bike : A perfect 2-day trip! (Okayama)
> A Rare Lighthouse & Spelunking!? Traversing Ogijima by Bicycle! (Ogi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture)
> “ONOMARU SHOUTEN” is the shop which has all of Onomichi’s fascinations. / JR Onomichi Ekisha (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> Kobe Shopping: 3 Distinct Local Brands to Bring Home（Kobe, Hyogo）【PR】
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
> “Meika Shitatsuzumi, ”a Japanese sweet from Yamaguchi which is soft, pleasant and melty on your tongue / San-in-do (Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi)
> Let’s enjoy taking a walk down the shopping street near Matsuyama Castle./Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street (Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture)
See more articles about "Art"ArtList
Kobe City Himeji City Amagasaki City Akashi City Nishinomiya City Sumoto City Ashiya City Itami City Aioi City Toyooka City Kakogawa City Ako City Nishiwaki City Takarazuka City Miki City Takasago City Kawanishi City Ono City Mita City Kasai City Sasayama City Yabu City Tanba City Minamiawaji City Asago City Awaji City Shiso City Kato City Tatsuno City Inagawa Taka Inami Harima Ichikawa Fukusaki Kamikawa Taishi Kamigori Sayo Kami Shinonsen
- Okayama Pref.
- Hiroshima Pref.
- Yamaguchi Pref.
- Tokushima Pref.
- Kagawa Pref.
- Ehime Pref.