A real honest lunch - The Kamikatz Public House offers zero-waste dining and ethically brewed beer

Honest Food are all about sustainability and eco-friendly movements - and they don't always have to be specifically about food! With this commission, I was able to write about The Kamikatz Public House, a renowned place in Japan that was built entirely from recycled waste and still offer zero-waste dining and ethically brewed beer. Read all about how they did it below! 

A real honest lunch: The Kamikatz Public House offers zero-waste dining and ethically brewed beer 

Recycling and sustainability has been growing in prominence over the past few years. While you may instantly think this is not much more than putting your cardboard packaging in the green bin, this trend goes much further within the food industry. Whether it’s recycling old vegetables, redistributing unsold food from the day or finding more sustainable ways to source ingredients, there are many steps taken by your local cafes, pubs and restaurants to ensure that the industry is much more eco-friendly. 

Known around the world as a zero-waste town, Kamikatsu in Japan has an extensive management program that recycles or composts 80% of the waste of accumulated by its residents, with the aim of becoming completely zero-waste within the next two years.

Their very strict sorting policy, introduced in 2003, involves many constraints for all residents, who must sort through 34 categories of waste. Whilst it may seem a little extensive, their habits have been firmly ingrained in the town’s inhabitants, hoisting Kamikatsu in the ranks to be one of the greenest places in Japan. 

Situated within the middle of the town sees one of the town’s largest buildings, which incorporates this strong recycling and reuse ethos. Created by architects Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP, the Kamikatz Public House is a pub and brewery, that functions as a social hub in the town, while also selling household supplies, food and, of course, beer!

From the large 8-metre high façade outfitted with reclaimed double-pane windows, to the walls painted with persimmon tannin and the interior design which appears a real collection of bric-a-brac, everything at the Kamikatz Public House comes from recovered materials, recycled waste and locally available sustainable materials.

Inside, the floor is studded with tiles unearthed in a former tile factory, there’s a huge multi-coloured chandelier made of glass bottles, farm equipment and wedding chests converted into cupboards and shelves plus old newspapers used as wallpaper. It may be simple, but the entire establishment is filled with innovative and improvised wonders.

So how did this public house come to be? The architects at Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP employed all their inventiveness to design a space that is both comfortable and modern. The result is not only sustainable in design, but ensures that it’s self-sufficient through letting in light, natural ventilation and improving insulation in winter.

The project’s lead architect, Hiroshi Nakamura, told Forbes, “As the word ‘pub’ comes from ‘public house’, we decided to bring the principles of the community, the wisdom and ways of the people towards waste, to life through architecture. Our goal was to create a public house so that the community could feel proud of their actions.”

With the news around this town and the new Public House going viral across social media, The Kamikatz attracts tourists all across the globe who want to share a craft beer with the local residents of Kamikatsu. It has become so popular, that it recently received the Wan Sustainable Buildings Award – a prestigious architectural international award, presented to the most sustainable buildings in the world.

You may think the building and construction of the pub is where the sustainability of this ends, but the zero-waste philosophy peters through the craftsmanship of all the food and drinks served too.

Rise & Win Brewing, the brains behind the sustainable brewery, have been crafting beers within independent bars across the USA for many years. However, with Japan’s growing interest in reducing their carbon footprint, it seemed logical for the company to expand their knowledge to this new build.

Their brewing facility produces craft beers such as IPAs, pale ales, stouts and speciality fruit beers, to suit all palettes and food choices. In particular the fruit beer, called the Leuven White, uses parts of ingredients that tend to be discarded. To add the fruity taste, the brewers use the Yuko citrus fruit juice, but as a twist, they also use the peel, which would usually be thrown away, to add a hint of spice. Even the spent grain produced from the brewing is reused as part of the desserts and the granola. So, if you ever have a beer aftertaste in your breakfast, you know where your oats are from!

So what about their food? As the Public House is meant to be just that, it’s no surprise that their main food offerings all focus around barbeques. While the prominence doesn’t sit with the sustainability of the produce, Rise & Win pride themselves on locally sourcing all their meats such as pork and chicken coming from Tokushima, a nearby town. For those planning a visit, get ready to sit back, relax and mingle with the locals over pork back ribs, awa beef or a selection of home grown veg.

For those who fancy a more sophisticated, romantic setting, the pub also offer fire place dinners in the evening. You’ll spot some very similar menu items, such as locally sourced grilled pulled pork or sausages. The restaurant also serve an alternative Gibier sausage, sourced from the free roaming deer that live on the Shikoku Mountains, directly behind the restaurant.

If your belly isn’t full of craft beer and barbeque wonders, then the Kamikatz Public House have got some desserts to hit that sweet spot. As you may expect, there are a number of options for the beer enthusiast, from beer malt scones which reuse malt leaves produced when brewing the beer, through to a specialist beer float, topped with vanilla ice cream. This varies day-to-day based on what beer they are brewing on-site. If that doesn’t float your boat, then you can also get refreshed with some Yuko sorbet, which they also use in the Leuven White fruit beer.

The Kamikatz Public House is a prime example of how our food industry is changing to be much more sustainable and eco-friendly. It also focuses on using only locally sourced produce and reusing ingredients that would usually be discarded through usual food practices. While these steps help ensure that our planet becomes a much cleaner and safer place for generations to come, it’s also heart-warming to see that a public house is still able to bring the local community together to enjoy food, drink and each other’s company.