matohu matohu




Some 76% of Tokushima Prefecture is actually covered in forest. Drive just a little ways out of the city, and steep valleys and forest await. Keep going, and you end up deeper and deeper in the forest. A small town in one of these valleys is now attracting attention from around the world. There, you can find hints for living in harmony with nature and with a commitment to circularity and a sustainable lifestyle.

1. Kamikatsu-cho

This town of about 1,500 people might become a beacon of hope for the world. It is the first town in Japan to declare a Zero Waste (eliminating waste, garbage, and excess) campaign. Residents sort their garbage themselves into more than 40 categories, with the town achieving a recycling rate of over 80 percent. That’s incredible!

2. KINOF cedar fabric

Forestry used to be the dominant industry in Kamikatsu-cho. Most of its forest is cedar for this reason. As forestry declined, however, the forest was no longer maintained and became overgrown. Seeing this, KINOF has attempted to find uses for the timber felled from forest thinning. It uses cedar chips to make Japanese washi paper, which is then turned into thread and woven into fabric. The spirit of using local resources lives here as well. We decided right away to use this fabric at matohu too.

3. Café polestar

This café gets its name from the pole star. The café’s set meals made with vegetables from Kamikatsu-cho are marvelous. Terumi Azuma opened the café as a place where locals and people touring the area could casually meet and interact. The time spent talking with her at the café about the future of society and how we will live, surrounded by lush nature, still shines like a star in our hearts.

4. RISE & WIN Craft Beer

This store’s building was constructed using scrap materials, and now is a serious craft beer venture. Visitors can quaff freshly brewed beer and enjoy barbeque offerings as well. Another great thing is if you bring your own container, you can buy all the beer you want by volume. It’s a Kamikatsu-cho landmark where people can learn about Zero Waste practices while savoring great food and drinks. Its English name, by the way, is created from the meaning of Kamikatsu-cho’s two kanji characters “上” and “勝.”

5. Organic vegetables Tennenamaru

Masaomi Abe studied vegetable dying, and then out of the blue, the vegetables that he grew on the side while cultivating Persicaria tinctoria won a contest. He then set about seriously growing organic vegetables. Working alone, he has methodically cultivated terraced rice fields that were previously abandoned. It’s as if Mr. Abe’s earnest personality is imparted in the delicious flavor of his vegetables.

6. Kamikatsu Awa Bancha

This tea has long been a tradition all around Kamikatsu, and is unusual for Japanese tea in that it is fermented with lactic acid. The tea leaves grown on the steep, terraced slopes are harvested in summer, and then fermented in a barrel for a month by farmers who make their own tea. Its light, slightly sweet taste is mild yet habit forming!

7. Moss ball forest

Yamainudake, which means “mountain of wild dogs” (and/or wolves, as taxonomical classification before the modern era was decidedly more fuzzy) is the slightly scary sounding name of this singularly wondrous place. All around, the rocks here are completely covered by moss, as if you had been transported to a forest of moss balls. Hidden worlds like this can be unexpectedly close at hand.