Bokashi: the Japanese composting method that's ideal for city living

Invented by Japanese biologist and agronomist Teuro Higa in the 1980s, bokashi is a composting method based on bacteria called 'effective microorganisms' or 'compost activators'

Published: Apr 2, 2022 08:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Apr 1, 2022 04:42:26 PM IST

Bokashi: the Japanese composting method that's ideal for city livingBokashi is a compost system that's suitable for city living. (Credit: Photography MyBears / Shutterstock)


As you might have guessed from its name, bokashi comes straight from Japan. This kind of composting, based on fermented organic matter, is within everyone's reach — including those who have neither a balcony nor a garden.

Invented by Japanese biologist and agronomist Teuro Higa in the 1980s, bokashi is a composting method based on bacteria called "effective microorganisms" or "compost activators." The objective is to ferment your organic waste with the effective microorganisms by placing them in an airtight container.

All types of waste are welcome, from coffee grounds and plant-based matter to meat scraps or even eggshells. The major advantage of this technique is that, because the waste is deprived of its oxygen, it avoids insect invasions or unpleasant smells. All of which is pretty practical, especially if you live in an urban area and don't have a garden!

How to get started with bokashi

There are bokashi kits and containers that you can buy on many e-commerce sites or at specialist home and garden stores. You can also make your own bokashi container. To do so, you need two plastic buckets (one with a tap), plus bags of effective microorganisms. After drilling holes in the bottom of one of the buckets, simply fit it inside the second. Then add the waste you want to compost in layers, alternating with the compost activators.

Once the container is full, seal it with a lid and let it macerate for 10 to 15 days. The pierced bucket will filter off the fermentation liquid, which you can then collect out of the tap and use as natural fertilizer for your plants. The remains can be disposed of in a collective compost bin or buried in the ground if you have a garden.

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