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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Forest History

Welcome to our forest history page. When we decided to purchase this property, we had no idea of the deep history connected to this land. This is a timeline, in reverse chronological order, of the owners, residents, and events connected to this unique piece of real estate.

Graphic - Really old map of our mountain property.
- Hayman clan purchases forest. Yup we are now the new owners of this beautiful and ancient land. This mountain has not ever been used, at least to the best of our knowledge, except possibly by a hunter-gatherer and early agriculturalist population during the Jomon Period in Japan traditionally dated between c. 14,000–300 BCE
- Saikyo Dam is built. ​​The Saikyo Dam was built in Nishinoomote City which not only provides drinking water to the city but also supplies irrigation to the island communities of Yokoyama, Izeki, Anno, Genna, Asakawa, Takebe, and Yajingo. Before the dam was built, the reservoir area was rice fields (see old map at the top of the page) and open space. Once the dam was built, a new parcel map was made which included the exact boundaries of our mountain property.
- Tanegashima clan. The Tanegashima clan ruled the island until the Meiji restoration. The Tanegashima clan enjoyed a high degree of autonomy until Shimazu unified southern Kyūshū in the late 16th century, and after that, served as a top-ranking retainer to the Satsuma domain. Following the Meiji restoration, the island has been administered as part of Kagoshima Prefecture.

- Firearms introduced. European firearms were introduced to Japan. Until modern times, firearms were colloquially known in Japan as "Tanegashima", due to the belief that they were introduced by the Portuguese on board the first Portuguese ship.

- Muromachi period. During the Muromachi period, Tanegashima functioned as a relay station for one of the main routes of Chinese trade that connected Sakai to Ningbo. The Tanegashima clan cooperated with the Hosokawa clan, one of two powers who controlled Chinese trade. The clan also maintained a firm connection with the Honnō-ji Temple of Kyoto. These account for the rapid spread of firearms from Tanegashima to central Japan.

- Kamakura period. In the early Kamakura period, the positions of the land steward of the Shimazu Estate and the military governor of Ōsumi Province were given to the Shimazu clan. However, the clan lost these positions to the Hōjō clan, the de facto ruler of the shogunate. The Hōjō clan sent the Higo clan as deputy governors. A branch line of the Higo clan made itself autonomous on Tanegashima after the Hōjō clan was annihilated and began to claim the clan name of Tanegashima.

- Knife industry - Edge tools (particularly knives and scissors) made in Tanegashima are famous traditional handicrafts in Japan. Craftsmen in Tanegashima have kept alive traditional techniques for forging iron tools. Tanegashima is also famous as the center of iron sand production. The technique has been around since about 1185 when the Taira clan were exiled here from Kyoto by Minamoto no Yoritomo, taking with them craftsmen and chefs from Kyoto. The people of the island speak with a Kyoto accent even now, rather than a Kyūshū or Kagoshima accent, despite its proximity to Kyūshū. These craftsmen were the original users of the distinct techniques used for forging. The technique is unique in the world, and produces such tools as "Tanegashima Hōchō" (Tanegashima knives), used by chefs, and "Tane-basami" (Tanegashima scissors), preferred by many for the art of Bonsai.

- Shimazu Estate. Tanegashima became part of the Shimazu Estate, the largest medieval shōen of Japan.
- Province merged. Tane Province merged into Ōsumi Province.

- Province established. Tane Province was established on the island.

- Paid tribute. People from Tane went to the imperial court to pay tribute.

- Island mission. The imperial court sent a mission to the island who returned in 681.

- Tanegashima banquet. The imperial court hosted a banquet for the islanders of Tanegashima.

- Yayoi culture. Artifacts including magatama, an engraved pendant, and emblems with apparent writing show evidence of a uniquely well-developed Yayoi period culture at the end of the 4th century CE.

- Tanegashima separates from Kyushu. Around 13,000 BCE, or 15,000 years ago, the island of Tanegashima began to separate from the island of Kyushu.

- Evidence of oldest island inhabitants discovered. With the discovery of the Tachikiri Ruins on Tanegashima island, artifacts support the existence of inhabitants dating back 30,900 years. This settlement is believed to be the oldest in Japan.
Additional Reading