This is a story about an international couple raising and home educating three young boys on a small island in Japan, half living in buses, engaged in organic, self-sufficient farming in the middle of a mountain forest while dealing with climate, cultural, and personal challenges. These pages are about pretty much anything and everything all guided by our family motto, Taking Chances, Making Changes, Being Happy. Thank you very much for joining us on our ongoing crazy adventure.

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Farm equipment shovel hoe rakeAgroforest Equipment

To say that I'm at newbie at forestry would be a huge understatement. Aside from farming and gardening, I really had no experience maintaining a forest, in fact, my only contact with any forest was the occasional camping trip in the San Diego County mountains of California, and an occasional trip to the Sequoias or other national parks in America. With this lack of knowledge and experience under my belt, I decide to go ahead and purchase our 4.5 acre heavily forested mountain without even a thought to the potential work involved or the equipment needed. After the equivalent of Japanese escrow closed on the property, I immediately went online for help. Fortunately there's a plethora of DIY forest maintenance sites, many of which explain, in detail, exactly the tools you need to maintain a healthy forest. Some use only hand tools while others go the power tool route, while the majority of mountain folks, fall somewhere in the middle with a mix of both.

The next step, ugh, shopping. I hate shopping, in almost any form, and this feeling goes way back. I come from a time when there was no Amazon or online shopping, in fact, from a time there was no Internet....yes I actually used a typewriter in college....I can actually hear my kids laughing as I type this. To be fair though, I was semi okay browsing at a building supply store because they were stocked with stuff I was interested in....a clothes or shoe store, FORGET ABOUT IT. Anyway, it was time throw myself into the ring, sit back in a comfortable chair and visit The Amazon Rainforest Shopping Site and the thousands of choices that showed up. What a daunting project, I thought, and then I began to realize the convenience of this shopping system, choices, reviews, easy returns, and no fuel cost or parking problems. Hey this was actually pretty good. Knowing what to buy, that was a problem. And back to watching videos I went. Anyway, to make a long story short, the following are a few of the tools I am using to date with a bit of information about each.

Note: These products came from Japanese distributors and may not be available in your country. I recommend Googling these products in your country to avoid any shipping or import fees. That said, the Japanese link to each product is included for your information. Use Google translate on the shopping page to read in your language.

And BTW, I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way and not making any money from the purchase or sale of these products. This simply an FYI moment to let you know which tools work if you decided to embark on a similar forestry project.
Forest Equipment

The following products are begin used to remove unwanted, non-native, invasive species, mostly consisting of understory growth, in order to facilitate food production in our agroforest.
Camping Knife

MOSSY OAK Sheath Knife, Full Tang Construction, Natural Wood Handle, Total Length 10.8 inches (275 mm) (Case Included)

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I bought this more for looks than remember the old Crocodile Dundee movie and the famous quote, "that's not a knife, THAT'S a knife." Anyway, I suppose this would work for cutting vines, making chopsticks, and for whittling twigs into marshmallow cooking sticks.

HFS(R) Axe for Wood Breaking Camping 14.4 inches (36.5 cm), Hatchet, Garden Hand Axe for Outdoors, Home, Garden, Camping, Hickory Wood with Sheath

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: This tool has turned out to be extremely useful for debarking trees, and especially for taking out tree stumps and large roots. The blade tends to get dull fairly quickly when used on hard woods such as oak, but I suppose this is normal for any kind of axe.
Chain Saw

HAIGE Chainsaw, 10 inches (25 cm), Displacement: 25.4 cc 2 Cycle 1.3 hp HG-TM32500A

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I really pushed against buying a chainsaw in the first place, but my shoulders began to give out using only a bow saw and I ended up giving in and bought it anyway. This chainsaw turned out to be way to small for the size and type of trees I'm dealing with, but with a little effort, it turned out to be adequate. This model is pretty loud, about 112 decibels, but not a problem with the property ear muffs. The handle will come loose if pulled too strongly and eventually this developed a chain saw leak.

Chain Saw Engine Oil

AZ 2-Cycle Engine Oil [Smokeless/FD Grade] (4L)

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: Really not much to say about this as most of these engine oil products are probably pretty similar. Um, it seems to work okay.

Protective Clothing

The following products are begin used for protection while working.
Hiking Boots

HI-TEC HT HKU10 Aoraki Mid WP Trekking Shoes, Breathable and Waterproof

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: These are not the first HI-TEC boots to cover my feet and certainly will not be the last. When I began our agroforestry project, I was still wearing a very old pair of HI-TEC boots. I desperately needed a new pair to handle working on the sloping topography of our new mountain and, of course, went with this brand again. For about 40 bucks, these boots are extremely comfortable, very stable, and have incredible traction for keeping my balance on all the slippery leaf litter.

YUEDGE Men's Socks, Set of 5, Outdoor Wear, Trekking, Mountain Climbing, Antibacterial, Odor Resistant, Cotton, For Work, Men's Sports Socks

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I bought these socks to were at night, mostly during the cooler months and they turned out to be incredibly warm and comfortable.

(1906) Men’s Socks, 5-Toe Socks, Set of 4 Pairs, High Cotton Percentage, Refreshing Easy to Wear Military Legs, Heathered Gray, No Kato, Perfect for Work, 9.6 - 10.6 inches (24.5 - 27 cm)

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I have rheumatoid arthritis which has forced some of my toes to curve slightly and rub together. I bought these socks to keep my toes separate while working and they work out really well.

Heat Resistant Gloves, Fireproof Gloves, Work Gloves, BBQ, Camping Gloves, Outdoor Leather, Cowhide Leather, Orange

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I bought these for debarking trees and for building a cabin and have not actually used them.

Kinco Gloves Youth's Split Cowhide Leather Driver 50Y

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I bought these for the kids for debarking trees and for building a cabin and they have not actually used them.
Camping Equipment

The following products are begin used during our extended overnight camping trips to the mountain.
Camping Light

Vantozon LED Lantern, Set of 2, Camp Lantern, High Brightness, USB Rechargeable, Battery Operated, 2 in 1 Power Supply Method, Lantern, Foldable, SOS Lighting, Three Light Modes, Portable, Magnetic, Waterproof, Splashproof, Outdoor, Mountain Climbing, Night Fishing, Disaster Prevention, Power Outages, Emergencies, Disaster Goods (Gray)

Details at Amazon Japan

Review: I cannot say enough about these lights....possibly the best purchase I made to date. The lights are really powerful and can be used as a lantern or as a flashlight. We use them mostly in the flashlight mode for illuminating our eating table or for interior lighting of the buses, AKA our bedrooms. The bottom is magnetic which works out great when used on the outside of our metal buses. The lights last for a long time and there is a USB charging unit included.
Camping Flashlight

BOIFUN Flashlight, LED XHP70+ L2 Set, Ultra Bright 4,500 Lumens, Zoom Type, 5 Modes Dimming, Military, Strongest, USB Rechargeable Two-Way Flashlight, Low Power Warning, IPX67 Waterproof, Mobile Battery, Handy Light, Lantern, Shockproof, 4.9 ft (1.5 m), Small, Lightweight, Bright, SOS, Outdoor, Disaster Prevention, Emergency Prevention, Bicycle, For Mountain Climbing, Night Fishing, Camping 26650 (Included) 18650 (included); AAA battery compatible, PSE certified.

Details at Amazon Japan (link not working)

Review: These lights turned out to be quite a disappointment. The smaller light is basically pretty good and last for a fairly long time. The larger light worked for awhile and then began to flicker and now only works when hit, and even then, usually turns off.
More Reviews

This is a small sample of the products I use up in our mountain. I am planning to write many more reviews when I can find the time on a rainy day.