Japan’s first Zero Waste town of Kamikatsu is a model to aspire to with its landmark achievement in sustainability. This remote village on Shikoku Island took a hardline approach simply by first asking the right questions when it comes to reusing and repurposing resources and now proudly recycles over 80% of what is used, far exceeding the country’s national average of 20%.

The Kamikats Zero Waste Center

These practices converge at a hub known as the Kamikats Zero Waste Center in a beautiful mountainside scene in Tokushima Prefecture and were born out of necessity first.  Strong emissions laws enforced back in 2000 caused the closure of two waste incinerators, leaving the region with a lack of funding and no way to replace them. So, residents either left or decided to stay and band together forming a strong bond and unbreakable commitment to sustainable efforts.

Here in Kamikatsu, locals go so far as to separate their waste into 45 different categories while volunteers onsite process it all and provide assistance to those who need additional help staying on track from plastics to metals to paper to clothing. And, what cannot be recycled easily is “gifted” at their direct-to-consumer shop which is more of a depository where items can be left for others to use at no cost.  

The World’s First Zero-Waste Hotel

The efforts don’t stop there, rather they continue evolving in multiple genres such as the Hotel Why, named the world’s first zero-waste hotel where guests get up-close access to environmentally-friendly practices. It’s a tiny hotel that opened back in 2020 has only 4 rooms, but it’s a great city getaway with green nature and a sense of sustainability.  

Watch this video to get a glimpse into this cool hotel:


As guests bask in natural surroundings they can pause for a coffee at the nearby zero-waste Café Polestar. At this unique coffee shop, you won’t find any paper napkins on your table. You also won’t get a paper receipt – unless you explicitly request one. When any of the cafe employees go shopping for ingredients – they use their own shopping bags. That’s what you call being sustainable.  

A Sustainable Brewing Company

Then, when it’s time for a libation, locals and visitors can hit up the Rise & Win Brewing Company. As the town in which it’s situated, this Brewing company applies the same sustainability principles to the way it brews beer. They built their store using only reused materials, and they even cook their barbecue using wild game meat. 

At this unique place, craft beer is brewed in an environmentally conscious way utilizing ingredients such as discarded rinds from a local plant, to “bring your own bottle” concepts to eliminate waste, all the way to a team outfitted with clothing created from recycled items. 

Planning on traveling to Japan anytime soon? We recommend checking this site run by the Setouchi Tourism Authority.

More about Kamikatsu:

This wondrous town is located in the Katsuura District, in the Tokushima Prefecture, and has a tiny population of less than 1,500. The town’s total area is around 110 sq km, meaning a density of 12.3 persons per sq km. All household waste in Kamitatsu is separated into 45 different recycling categories, and all of it is naturally sent to be recycled.  

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