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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Vines jungle stringVines

Tanegashima island is blessed with a subtropical climate and the jungles which often grow in this type of environment. And of course, what would a jungle be without vines. The vines growing up in our mountain are problematic, to say the least. They are extremely invasive. They quickly climb mature trees like our cypress and oak and compete with the tree canopies for light. Eventually the vines completely envelop the tree canopies, cutting out the sunlight, and effectively killing the trees.

In the farms, however, it was a much different story. The vines on the trees were much thinner, probably due to periodic trimming, but still had the strength to make them useful.

Varying in thickness from a strong fishing line to a small tree, the vines on this island can be used for a wide variety of projects. To date I used these vines to support veggie vines such as green peas and even to tie the individual stems to the supports. This worked out fantastic, albeit for only one season, as the vines tended to dry out eventually. These are what the thick vines look like as they thin out once they reach the tops of the trees. Sometimes getting these thin usable vines can be a bit tricky. Basically you need to keep pulling the thicker base vines until the thinner vines come out of the tree tops.
Thick Vines

Believe it or not, this is actually a vine I found in the jungle behind one of the farms. This was thick and probably strong enough for me to climb on if I were so inclined. Vines like these can be found all over the island. The base can be very thick depending on the age of the vine and then thins out as it reaches the tree tops where it grows to find sunlight. This particular piece is pretty useless in the farm but great for climbing.
Up Close

This particular type of vine (variety unknown) is made up of a fibrous material. This is an incredibly strong piece of vine but yet very soft and easy to cut with a standard tree saw. This is actually a cut section of the vine in the previous picture.
Vines farm supports bamboo tiesTying Bamboo Supports

These vines worked perfectly for tying the bamboo poles together to make supports.

These vines will easily last for a season and then they tend to dry out and need to be replaced.
Vines farm supports vineSupporting Veggies

These medium thick vines made great supports for holding up vine vegetables, such as green peas.

The peas were tied to the vines until they began to send out tendrils and then were hanging onto the vines on their own.
Vines farm supports vineAnother View

This is another view of the green peas being supported with jungle vines.

Note the green pea vines are being tied to the support vines with thinner pieces of the same jungle vines.
Vines farm supports vegetables tiesTying Veggies With Vines

Really thin vines can be used to tie vine veggies to thicker vines until they send out tendrils and can hold on by themselves.