Kamiamakusa: Remote work on remote islands (Part 1)

Lazy fishing boats on the waves. Computers on laps. Remote work life.
This series chronicles our trip to Kamiamakusa, Kumamoto, where we got up close and personal with local life there.

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An Invitation to Remote Life

It’s not every day you get to spend a peaceful week in a seaside town. In this trip, we visited Kamiamakusa, a set of islands in Kumamoto, strung together by beautiful white bridges. How did this happen? We were invited by Enrico, who spends half his time there and half in Tokyo. He runs the KamiAmakusa Real Experience on Facebook, where he shares this hidden gem with the world. Though we had no idea what to expect, we trusted this would be an interesting trip!

So our journey began at a Family Mart in Kumamoto Station. Enrico met up with us to take us to Kamiamakusa. From there, it was a 1-hour drive, he said. Thankfully, he had rented a large van for all of us, and we loaded on. Adventure, ho! 

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Kamiamakusa was about an hour by car. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much traffic.

Hello, Local Life in Kamiamakusa

Our first encounter with the locals of Kamiamakusa was Konomi-san, who runs Zozogama, a pottery space that apparently got picked up by television media in Japan. Because he kind of just waltzed in, it took us by surprise. To be honest, it felt like one of those moments from Harvest Moon, where villagers randomly stop by and ask if you need help setting up your house.

Of course, it turns out he just wanted to confirm the schedule with Enrico. We’d see more of him later.

After he left, we went on our way to Ai no Misaki, a quaint little hotel with a view of the ocean. The main attraction for us was the public baths they offered. 

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Ryotei Ai no Misaki in Kamiamakusa, on Yago Island

They had several baths, and the one in the back was extra hot and colored blue. What surprised us were the little crabs coming out of the baths! You’d think they would cook and become nice steamed crabs… but alas, it looks like we just invaded their cozy space. Sorry guys. 

Because Ai no Misaki was also a lodging, they had beautiful patios and a view of ever more islands. The stray cats running about just added to the charm. What a great way to relax after a bath.

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Stray cats, just chillin’ under your chair

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This would probably make a pretty nice dinner spot…

Dinner with the Kamiamakusa Locals

Now, it was time for dinner. At night, Konomi-san came by again to cook us food. From fresh salad made from veggies picked from his own garden to homemade carbonara with the crispiest bacon cooked by Enrico, we had a true feast. As if that wasn’t enough, Konomi-san started cooking even more: beautiful little sandwiches you’d only see at a nice cafe. Egg white omelets. True chef spirit in action. It was a little like watching a cooking show, but live.

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Real Italian carbonara and fresh-picked veggies

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The local Kamiamakusa chef in action!

By the time night fell, we were at Onitsuka-sensei’s bed & breakfast, a minshuku where you stay with the locals. They gave us a separate 2-story house next to their main abode. A blissful night’s sleep followed.

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It got a little rainy, but still a nice view from our minshuku’s window

To be continued…