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.
This is a timeline, in reverse
chronological order, of our agroforestry project from the beginning until the
present. We purchased this 4.5 acre forested mountain without really thinking.
We had seen this property online for sale back in 2019 but the price was really
high and we pretty much forgot about it. Then in May 2021 we looked online again
and found the property was still available and that the owner had dropped the
price by a third, albeit still out of our price range. We decided to take a
drive out to the property anyway for a quick look. What we found was a complete
and total mess. The access road to the property was overgrown with tall weeds
and grasses and there were tree branches and even logs lying around on the road.
We were driving our 4 wheel drive Toyota 4Runner (Toyota Surf in Japan) and
still it was difficult to make it through the mess. We made it to the end of the
road and got out for a short hike. We ended up looking at only a small portion
of the property but it seemed from the map and the onsite inspection that there
were pretty good views of the reservoir. Thanks to the overgrowth though we were
not really sure what the property looked like. Anyway, a month and a half later,
we decided to purchase the property. The equivalent of Japanese escrow closed a
month later and we were officially the new owners of this incredible mountain.
We went on a few day trips to make a small area for camping, and a month later,
we went overnight camping for the first time. Then the real work began.
Agroforest Progress 2024
February 16-18, 2024 - This was overnight trip
number 63 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was for making the
beds for the sweet potato vines. The temperatures were pretty cold at night.
February 12-13, 2024 - This was overnight trip
number 62 and was for two days and one night. This trip was for getting
rid of compost, moving the metal greenhouse, and putting in sweet potatoes for
vines. The temperature was pretty cold at night.
January 11-18, 2024 - This was overnight trip
number 61 and was for eight days and seven nights. This was our new record for
time spent camping for a single trip. Although we brushed teeth, and wiped up a
bit, we did not shower for the entire trip, which is typical for us as there are
no shower facilities available. The weather was incredible, albeit pretty cold
at night, with temperatures dipping into the forties. The focus of this trip was
our comfort. I added a wood frame roof over the buses and installed a 5.8 x 7.8
meter tarp, which is really thick and even typhoon resistant. This worked out
really well, except for cutting out a lot of light, requiring us to use lights
even to eat breakfast. Our main eating table is outside of the buses though,
with the small eating table between the buses only being used at night or when
it rains. The cover also enabled us to use our kerosene stove to warm us up. We
are hoping to begin construction on our cabin this year. With our new roof over
the buses, and us much more comfortable now, it was time to make things more
convenient for Akiko. This meant a functioning kitchen. I used a bunch of old
wood from other projects for the wood frame over the buses, and used everything
else to build small but useful kitchen shelves and work area. The BBQ is set up
next to the kitchen. A bit more time was also spent on the truck turnaround. We
also worked together to weed the farm and prepare for bringing banana trees up
to the mountain.
January 4-5, 2024 - This was overnight trip
number 60 and was for two days and one night. We finished up a temporary
kitchen, to be used until a more useable kitchen can be built, and worked on the turnaround for
the truck. And it was really cold at night with the temperature dropping to
around 7 degrees C (44 degrees F) with us sleeping in buses with no warming
stove or fireplace. We went shopping on the way home and bought veggies and
January 2, 2024 - This was another unusual one
day trip, and the first for the new year. We spent much of the day at the park
close to our mountain, exploring new trails and and enjoying new scenery. The
only work was grading a small piece of land close to the buses for our new
temporary kitchen. The weather was nice albeit seasonably cool. A Mamushi pit
viper slithered onto the street directly across from the campsite and was
promptly smashed with a garden hoe. Hopefully no more of those this year.
Agroforest Progress 2023
December 27, 2023 - This was another unusual one
day trip, and the last for this year, in order to cut the tree stumps on the
truck turnaround on the other side of the road from the campsite. We went to the
grocery store on the way home and bought sushi and coke, grape and orange fanta,
vanilla and chocolate ice cream and some veggies. Unusual junk food purchase but
a reward for all of us dealing with a year filled with a lot of work up at our
November 16, 2023 - This was an unusual one day
trip in order to get a few things from the mountain that we needed at the house.
November 2-8, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 59 and was for seven days and six nights. This trip was all about moving
the buses to the new campsite. The first day had to go under the HiAce to
install a connection for the radiator line. Then was able to get all of the
buses running which had been sitting unused for awhile. The HiAce was moved to
the play area. The second day the buses were moved to the new campsite. The
HiAce was moved first and had to be backed up all the way from the old parking
area to the new campsite space along the line of cypress trees. Then the blue
bus was moved into position. Then the red bus was moved into position. Then the
brown bus was moved into position. We ate our first meal at the new campsite and
spent our first night there. The third day we ate our first breakfast and lunch
at the new campsite, and took our first walk, and played guitar for the first
time at the new campsite. The fourth day friends came to visit. Then it rained
in the afternoon and poured at night. We went shopping for food in the afternoon
in between the rain storms. The fifth day was spent debarking and burning
cypress trees in order to make poles for the small eating table and roof
supports. Then holes were made for the poles. The sixth day the poles were put
in place. The seventh day the table was built and connected to the wood poles.
This was a really difficult trip. Ethan was not feeling good from the beginning
and complained about his teeth hurting and tired and a fever. Then Shai got sick
the day the friends came. Then I was not feeling good towards the end of the
trip. When we returned home, all of us were sick except for Akiko.
October 24-27, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 58 and was for four days and three nights. The work continued on the
corner of B and the new campsite which was completed and ready for the buses to
be moved. The last day was raining again and had to pack
in between showers.
October 17-20, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 57 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
working on the B corner section of the mountain once again. A lot of huge oak
trees were cut on the other side of the street. The canopies were then disposed
of and more work on the bus area. The first trip for the dog and the trailer.
The last day was raining and had to pack in between showers.
October 10-12, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 56 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about working
on the B corner section of the mountain once again.
October 5-7, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 55 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about working
on the B corner section of the mountain once again. A lot of the understory
trees on our property were cut and turned into potash. About eight oak trees
were cut to make room for the buses. The huge pile of potash on the road was
raked out to separate the rocks.
September 29 - October 2, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 54 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
working on the B corner section of the mountain once again. I got bit on the arm
by the small black wasp on the first day of the trip same as a few weeks before.
My arm swelled up from my wrist to my elbow again but really awful. This trip
was the autumn full moon viewing holiday and was really nice. Much of the trip
was spent cutting understory trees and raking the property on the other side of
the road in an attempt to reduce mosquitoes, reduce bee and wasp nests, and to
let in more light during the cooler months.
September 22-24, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 53 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about
working on the B corner section of the mountain once again. The view of the reservoir is
even more incredible now. This trip was much easier and a lot of work was
finished on B and along the street. I got bit in the hand by a brown bee after
catching it with my glove. We went shopping before returning home.
September 17-20, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 52 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
working on the B corner section of the mountain. The view of the reservoir is
even more incredible. This trip was extremely difficult since it poured every
afternoon including the day we arrived at the mountain. We could not even unpack
and thought about returning home but instead went to a local grocery store and
bought food and drinks. Because of the rain and being tired we ended up shopping
a couple more times. the three shopping trips cost around 160 bucks but it was
worth it as a relief from exhaustion. The last day really poured and we ended up
working in the rain cutting fairly huge trees with the bow saw. I got bit in the
right arm in two spots close to each other and was either a centipede or a
spider bite. The arm swelled a lot and again between the wrist and elbow. Aside
from the shopping and the nighttime family parties in the bus, it was a
September 9-12, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 51 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
working on the B corner section of the mountain. The view of the reservoir is
now incredible. I actually got bit by a small wasp and my left arm swelled up
from my wrist to my elbow. The bite hurt quite a bit and then became incredibly
itchy and lasted for about a week.
September 1-3, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 50 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about working
on the B corner section of the mountain. Another type of purchased banana tree
was moved up to the mountain.
August 27-29, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 49 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about working
on the B corner section of the mountain for a possible view and campsite and
moving four types of banana trees from the farm to the mountain.
August 20-22, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 48 and was for three days and two nights. The first day of the trip we
did not work. We went to the mountain and set up for camping and then went to
the fireworks festival. Then the second day the real estate agent who sold us
the mountain showed up at the campsite. We continued working on B and now there
was a great view of the reservoir and the decision to move the campsite there
was made. Packed turmeric.
August 13-15, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 47 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about picking
up after the typhoon. We Then we tried to go to the beach before returning home
but it was closed. This trip was all about working on the B corner section of
the mountain for a possible view and campsite. went to the beach close to our
home and it was closed. We went to our private beach and played around for maybe
about an hour and then went home.
July 20-21, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 46 and was for two days and one night. This trip was all about working
on the storage cabinet and a campsite on the A section of the mountain.
July 16-18, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 45 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about working
on the access road which is now graded, wider, weeded, and much nicer. The first
day our friends came with their daughter at about 9 pm. The second day other friends came at about 6 pm. This was a fun trip albeit a
lot of work in hot and humid weather. The property is much better now.
July 7-8, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 44 and was for two days and one night. This trip was all about making a
basically permanent but movable toilet. This project was built over both days
since all the work needed to be done by hand including installing over 100
screws 75 millimeters each.
June 21-24, 2023 - This was overnight trip number
43 and was for four days and two nights. This trip was all about getting rid of
the huge pile of canopy which was cut months ago. This was completed on the
first day. Then the second day was spent removing a lot of the sticky tress,
some of which were already a couple of meters tall. While doing this had no idea
was only a few centimeters away from the worst snake which was coiled up on the
top of a cut oak tree. Put in new bee bottles and found 9 worst bees in the old
bottle at the end of the road, and 16 in the bottle at the entry of the road.
Then on the last day, the play area was finished up. Then went to Urada beach for
a couple of hours before returning home.
May 29-30, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 42 and was for two days and one night. This trip was all about putting in
our new fruit trees and vines. The night of the first day, me and Lael and Shai
spent some time at night messing around with candles.
May 8-11, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 41 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
picking the garlic and putting in a lot of seeds.
April 21-22, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 40 and was for two days and one nights. This trip was for picking up
our new bus. The campsite was pretty soaked from the rain and it was really
difficult to get the BBQ going. Then it began raining a bit in the afternoon
when we returned home.
April 16-19, 2023 - This was overnight trip number
39 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about putting up
the net around out forest farm and putting in as many seeds as possible. In
addition, almost all of the cut food from the hill next to the campsite was
processed and the entire area was raked up. There was a huge worst bee at the
campsite which was hit smacked and finished. The bee bottles were put up at both
ends of the access road. The weather was really nice but it rained a bit when we
were returning home.
April 8-11, 2023 - This was overnight trip number
38 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about putting in
the processed turmeric, wild turmeric, and gajyutsu along with setting up the
metal frame and putting in seeds. A lot of net was also put up to keep the deer
out. This was actually the first time to use the new bus as a bedroom. A worst
bee was seen at the campsite along with the multicolored snake. The weather was
beautiful although a bit chilly at night.
March 26, 2023 - This was an unusual day trip to
pick up the new bus at the ferry place. The owner of the bus was there and
included a few tires and some tools with the purchase. A bunch of herbs, some
banana trees and bags of cows shit were transported up and put in place on this
trip. The buses were realigned and now in place as bedrooms for overnight
March 14-17, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 37 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
putting the three buses in place. The third day we went to apply for a new visa.
The fourth day it was raining when we were coming home.
March 6-9, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 36 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
setting up a level area for the buses where the metal frame greenhouse was.
February 2-5, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 35 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
setting up the last bed which is going to be the new location for the metal
frame greenhouse. And a lot of understory trees were cut on the slope next to
the campsite all the way to the reservoir which opened up a bit of a view and
the potential for hiking trails.
January 16-19, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 34 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was all about
processing the mess on the side of the road from the last trip along with
cutting a lot of understory trees on the slope close to the campsite.
January 8-11, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 33 and was for four days and three nights. The focus was totally on
removing the unsafe oak trees on the opposite side of the public road. These
huge trees had numerous branches which were completely dried and rotted out and
could fall at any moment. Even though only the Makita chainsaw was working, the
work was completed on this trip. A few huge trees were cut including a tree
which was too huge to cut all the way through and the wind ended up finished the
job and toppling the tree. This was a really nervous trip but now the public
road in front of the campsite is safe for hiking.
January 3-6, 2023 - This was overnight trip
number 32 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was focused on the
public road which was in need of raking to allow for two wheel drive vehicles.
We actually had about twelve fires going at once to burn the twigs and leaf
litter. The road was also hand graded to account for a slight amount of erosion
caused by recent rains and the strong typhoon which hit the island last year. A
friend came up with her two kids to play for a couple of hours. This was
actually the first trip of the new year and turned out to be very productive.
Agroforest Progress 2022
December 10-13, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 31 and was for four days and three nights. This trip was actually the
beginning of really thinning out the forest of vines and understory trees.
December 6-8, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 30 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about setting
up the oil stove and expanding the play area. The buses look like some type of
homeless area with a couple of sheets enclosing the space between them in order
to warm things up at night. The campsite is basically finished for now except
for a couple spots. The temperatures were much cooler but okay.
November 21-22, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 29 and was for two days and one night. This was all about moving play
wood from the house to the mountains. This was actually the first time to use
the RC cars at the mountain.
November 8-11, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 28 and was four days and three nights. This was all about working on the
walking path to the campsite and the play area. This was directly after the
previous trip for a total of eight straight days up in the mountains.
November 4-7, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 27 and was four days and three nights. This trip was all about installing
the toilet at the compost area, which was finished on the first day, and
removing the seats from the new bus and turning it into a bedroom which was
finished on the third day and used that night. Tried sleeping on the seats but
was too uncomfortable and not enough room on the floor. A friend came up to help
with the removal of the seats and was the first to see the work at the mountain.
Anyway the bus is fantastic with a sleeping area and three seats for reading and
hanging out. Saw a two lights UFO and two fireballs a few minutes later on the
second night. The lights appeared and continued to get brighter until they were
several times brighter than Venus. The UFO was stationary during this time and
then began moving very slowly and the lights began getting dimmer. An outline of
a huge ship could be seen which blocked out the stars as it moved. This was
around 4:30 am. This was a really fun and productive trip.
October 24-27, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 26 and was four days and three nights. This trip was all about getting
the space ready for the new bus which was delivered on the second day. The third
day we used the truck to push the bus up to the campsite. The bus was too heavy
and it rained and it kept sliding sideways. The pushing resulted in minimal
damage to a tail light and some scraped off paint. The fourth day the bus was
moved into position in the campsite and all the trash was removed to bring home.
A very productive trip for sure.
October 21-22, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 25 and was for two days and one night. This was the first time to stay
overnight, return home, and then return to the mountain the next day. The
projects were again about getting rid of as many tree chunks as possible.
October 18-20, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 24 and was for three days and two nights. This was a really exciting trip
because Lael actually had his first baby tooth come out at night while we were
eating and it was all caught on camera. The next day we found a Toyota Hiace
online which was going to be auctioned off and we actually bought it for the
equivalent of $3,500. This will be used as a bedroom to replace the damaged
tent. The project was getting rid of as many tree chunks as possible in
preparation for the new bus.
October 6-8, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 23 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was all about putting
in potatoes and seeds in our new garden beds. A detailed list to follow.
September 20-22, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 22 and was for three days and two nights. This was also a couple of days
after the strongest typhoon to ever hit this island slammed through causing a
lot of debris all around the campsite. The typhoon also knocked over the already
cut oak trees which will now make them much easier to process. Additional work
was completed on the garden beds.
September 7-10, 2022 - This was overnight
trip number 21 and was four days and three nights. This was also the first trip
after all of us had COVID for two weeks last month. I ate a bunch of rice,
pasta, and bread and got a mega arthritis flare up. The work began with getting
rid of all the stored canopy from the oak trees which was getting moldy. Used it
all to burn a group of four stumps of trees close to the parking area. Then the
compost was emptied out into the first garden bed and refilled with a bunch of
shiso leaves and stems along with turmeric leaves. Then worked on leveling out
the area in front of the first bed and transferred a group of fruit trees from
and metal frame garden to the new beds. The last day was spent working on the
play pit and raking up the street.
August 12-14, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 20 and was for three days and two nights. This trip was supposed to be
about working on the beds for growing cool season stuff but the plans changed
thanks to really hot temperatures. The plan changed to getting rid of the huge
pile of canopy being stored along the slope adjacent to the campsite. Thanks to
excessive rain this year, the leaves and wood turned black and molding and
mostly unusable as firewood. These were burned in the middle of four oak tree
chunks in an effort to remove them. A lot of work was also completed on the
parking area including the removal of a bunch of understory trees. The trip
ended with a trip to the beach which turned out to be very crowded. Because of
this we got COVID and began showing symptoms on 8/16, only two days later.
August 4-7, 2022 - This was overnight trip number
19 and was four days and three nights. The temperatures were really hot during
the day and warm at night and a bit windy during the day but almost no breeze at
night. There was also a bit of moderate rain during the night. This was a very
productive trip. A new route to the bathroom was completed which went through
the point and cut out a couple of minutes walking time. The huge oak tree stump
was removed from the parking area and now there is room to park the truck. The
oak pieces were put in place denoting the location of the campsite and beds. And
the first bed was almost completely filled with soil and close to being ready
for use. The trip included a couple of hours at the beach before returning home.
July 26-27, 2022 - This was overnight trip number
18 and the first overnight trip in almost four months thanks to an unbelievably
rainy season this year. We were supposed to bring home more humus but it poured
the day we were coming home and we had to leave the soaked bags up in the
mountain. We spent a little time at Urada Beach in the afternoon. Today was
really windy and almost nobody at the beach but still fun.
July 23, 2022 - This was actually a birthday trip
to the mountain. We once again spent a little time at Urada Beach in the
July 17, 2022 - This was only another day trip in
order to take some stuff up to the mountain including a ton of kitchen stuff to
be used in the compost pile. We spent a little time at Urada Beach in the
June 24, 2022 - This turned out to be the only
day we were able to go to our mountain thanks to the incredible amount of rain
the island received this month. The trip was mainly to bring our rain collection
containers and deer netting up to the mountain and bring back a load of humus
for our home garden. We turned this into a coastal survey and beach trip with a
picnic and a few hours of fun at Urada Beach. After the beach we went to the
mountain to get the bags of humus and returned home.
May 7, 2022 - Today we returned for a second
consecutive day trip to dry out the chairs and other camping stuff which was
soaked the day before. The huge oak tree close to the parking area was cut and
finally all the unsafe oak trees in and around the campsite were out. The
weather this year has been crazy resulting in few trips to the mountain.
May 6, 2022 - This was supposed to be a two day
and one night trip but the weather had other ideas. The forecast was for a sunny
day with no rain but it ended up raining, sometimes pouring, the entire
afternoon. The huge oak trees around the campsite were cut anyway but everything
was soaked and was simply not possible to stay overnight. The shelf was slammed
for the second time by the oak trees and a few old kitchen pots were damaged. A
difficult trip for sure.
April 4-7, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 17 and was for four days and three nights. A few more oak and cypress
trees were cut with many large pieces of wood used to make more beds for the
fruit trees and provide a border for the campsite. The cut wood and canopies
from the last few months were moved from the street side of the campsite to the
view side. The campsite is now ready to move the fruits trees into their beds
and to begin leveling the ground for a future cabin. The campsite is now
completely usable. The worst bee and a few mosquitoes showed up this trip. The
weather was beautiful with basically sunny days and cool nights.
March 24-25, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 16 and was for only two days and one night. This turned out to be a
really productive trip as most of the huge oak trees bordering the campsite were
removed which amounted to somewhere between 16 and twenty trees. The canopy is
wide open now with a great view of the sky and stars at night. This trip was the
first time this year to see the worst bee and it was huge. The fruit trees
relocated to the mountain seem to be doing good. The bus was moved to the middle
of the campsite again. No more sleeping on an angle and sliding on the sleeping
bag. The family enjoyed camping again.
March 15-17, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 15 and was for three days and two nights. The daytime temperatures
were close to 70 degrees with the nighttime temperatures around 60 degrees.
There was a really nice breeze and no rain and a beautiful night sky with an
almost full moon. This was another productive trip. The fruit trees from the
house were brought up to the mountains and put in the metal greenhouse until
they are moved to their appropriate places around the campsite. The stuff
growing did not do well except for the garlic which seems to be okay. This was
the only disappointment and was mostly because of the thick layer of humus which
was unable to hold enough moisture for the roots of the leafy greens and
radishes. In addition, the previously cut trees were processes and piled
together for future use. This was also a trip of interesting stuff. This was
actually the first time to see the strange single flower growing, the first
multicolored poisonous snake of the year, possibly the first mosquito, the
cherry trees in bloom, a very low reservoir, and a bunch of fish hanging around.
A bit more and the campsite will be ready for a Summer of fun.
February 25, 2022 - This was a day trip and the
only chance to go up to the mountains thanks to a month of mostly wind, rain,
and cold temperatures. The trip was spent picking up the mess and making the
campsite more usable.
January 3-4, 2022 - This was overnight trip
number 14 and was only for two days and one night. The entire trip was spent
getting the previously cut oak trees stacked and out of the campsite.
Agroforest Progress 2021
December 21-22, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number 13 and was only for two days and one night. The entire trip was spent
getting the previously cut oak trees off the road and cutting the canopies and
stacking the wood neatly off to the side and along the road. It rained a little
on the second day but dried out in the afternoon.
December 15, 2021 - This was a day trip since
Akiko had to renew her drivers license. The trip was spent mostly processing the
already finished cypress trees which were cut over the last few months. These
will be used as firewood and possibly for animal enclosures someday.
December 8-11, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number 12 with this trip lasting for four days and three nights. The first day
was spent cutting the last poison oak trees from around the
campsite....somewhere between six and eight trees. The bow saw was used to cut
this as opposed to the chain saw to avoid getting the oil from the trees on the
chain and in the saw. The trees were then burned with this project lasting into
the second day, and after lunch on the same day, oak and cypress trees in the
parking area were removed. A bunch of pictures were taken but did not store on
the phone. The third day a bunch of cypress trees were removed from the campsite
along with the two huge oak trees. This opened up the canopy and let in alot of
sunlight. The next day a few trees along the road were removed including a few
pretty huge oak trees. After this trip was a bit miserable with poison oak on
arms and balls. This was the third time dealing with poison oak rash. We plan to
keep most of the trees on the mountain but the oak trees simply needed to be cut
in order to open up the canopy and let sunlight into the campsite. These two oak
trees had trunk diameters of about 50 centimeters. The cypress (hinoki and sugi)
trees cut will be used as practice for debarking and notching in preparation for
a future log cabin.
November 19-21, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number 11 with this trip lasting three days and two nights. The weather was
beautiful with little wind and moderately warm temperatures for this time of the
year. A worst bee was seen at the campsite. Many trees were removed with
the 21 inch bow saw. An oak tree trunk and root ball were removed from the new
farm bed. Then the metal frame was constructed around the new farming bed and we
began farming in the mountains for the first time. The seeds sown included: bok
choy, komatsuna (leafy green), spinach, chingensai (similar to bok choy),
carrots, small, medium, and large diakon (white radishes), and the herb dill.
Along with all this, over 400 garlic cloves were sown. We also discovered the
mountain is covered with a lightweight brown clay soil along with a think layer
of humus, which together, should make for some pretty productive farming.
November 15-17, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number 10 with this trip lasting three days and two nights. This trip was spent
processing the numerous cypress trees which were finished and removed during the
last couple of months. A worst bee was seen at the campsite. A farm bed was made
at the rear portion of the campsite measuring 3 x 7 meters for a total of 21
square meters. A poison oak truck and root ball was removed. This was the
beginning of our agroforest project.
November 2-5, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number nine with this trip lasting four days and three nights again. The weather
was nice but a bit colder from sunset to sunrise and kind of windy. We brought a
lot of extra clothes this time. This trip was pretty much spent removing ferns
and understory trees from the north section of the campsite in preparation for
terraced beds for growing perennial root crops. The worst bees continued to show
up. Cooking was a bit more difficult because of the windy conditions.
October 26-29, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number eight with this trip lasting four days and three nights again. The
weather was nice albeit a bit colder from sunset to sunrise. We brought extra
clothes but not quite enough. We arrived at the campsite moments before the
scheduled rocket launch from the space center. There was practically no noise
from the launch and the only evidence was the contrail almost straight up in the
sky. No need to watch from the mountains again. Anyway, this first two days was
all about the rear portion of the campsite and preparation for growing turmeric
in what will be terraced farming beds. The last two days were spent on a trail
through our property to the public walking trail leading to the bathroom. This
effectively cut out about four minutes walking time, making the total walk to
the bathroom now about six minutes. The trail is a bit too steep though and
planning to make switchbacks on the next trip. The last day ate too many hot
peppers for lunch and had extreme stomach pain for a couple of hours until
throwing up and then was in discomfort during the drive home and the entire
evening. The worst bees continued to show up. A few Halloween decorations were
made on the trees and wood.
October 15-18, 2021 - This was overnight trip
number seven and except for a little bit of light rain, the trip turned out
great. We stayed four days and three nights. The temperatures turned a bit
colder the last two days and stayed close to 70 degrees both day and night and
the winds were really blowing. Once again we brought a bunch of sweet potatoes
and a huge bunch of ice cream (blue java) bananas grown at the house. The
bananas did not turn yellow as planned but we barbequed them with the peels
until black to take away the stickiness and basically ate them like plantains.
They tasted like potatoes, and with a little salt, tasted great. The worst bees
continued to be an issue and I moved the pet bottle used for catching them to a
spot far from the campsite. The compost pile is now finished and full of leaf
litter and potash and should be ready for use next Spring. Much of the trip was
spent on the entry to the campsite. All the hinoki and sugi trees cut weeks ago
were finally moved to the processing area. The last day was spent taking out
more understory trees on the north side of the campsite to take advantage of the
view and to prepare the rear slope for a bit of terraced farming next Spring.
Really looking forward to the next camping trip.
October 7-8, 2021 - This was our sixth overnight
trip which was cut short to two days and one night for a couple of
reasons....more about those in a bit. The day before leaving we loaded the house
picnic table and benches onto the rack on the top of our Toyota Surf (name
4-Runner back in the states) truck. The first day of camping was spent cutting a
couple of trees and installing the table to the stumps. Then the benches were
converted into trees and connected on top of a couple of nice cypress trees logs
that were previously debarked. The entire shelf unit was then connected to a
couple of living trees. Was using an old screwdriver as the whereabouts of my
new screwdriver were unknown. Anyway, my arthritis and torn bicep kicked in and
many screws remained unscrewed all the way. That night it rained a lot but we
were okay thanks to the new shelves and a vinyl cover which protected our food.
The next day was spent on the parking area and making a kind of an entry gate
using old pieces of cypress. The weather forecast for the next day changed from
sunny and nice to rain, thanks to a quickly forming tropical storm. We decided
to return home in the afternoon. Then, in the afternoon, a worst bee turned up
eating some apple pieces in a bowl on the picnic table. I was wearing gloves and
took a thick cloth towel and bunched it up and tried to smash the bee in the
bowl. A really stupid decision. The bee made this loud and awful sound and then
I was stung on the back of the middle finger of my right hand. I yelled out "I
got stung" and the bee flew away. Within a matter of seconds the pain was
intense. This was by far the worst of any creature bites and stings endured up
until now including, several dogs, snakes, lizards, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils,
spiders, and ants. I quickly used my other hand to cut off the circulation of
the stung finger to prevent the venom from spreading. This along with an ice
pack possibly made all the difference. I somehow managed the 40 minute drive
home. That night drank tons of wine and went to sleep. I woke up in the middle
of the night with intense itching on the finger and the top half of my hand and
joints. That day my hand swelled up like crazy and the itching continued.
Anyway, this was easily the most difficult camping trip to date.
October 2-5, 2021 - This was our fifth overnight
camping trip and another four days and three nights stay. This trip was all
about the campsite and accessing a bit of the view. The first day was spent
taking a few picture of the corner of the property where the access road and
walkway meet which will be the growing area for banana trees and turmeric. A bit
of work was also done on the campsite. The second day we all got to eat bananas
and sweet potatoes for the first time which were grown at home and at the farm
respectively. The same night we all had a lot of fun in the tent. The third day
was spent making a trail to the ravine which turned out to be quite a mess.
Determined the ravine would not be a good place for a huge compost pile since
any potash made might pollute the reservoir. This area will now be reserved for
hiking trails. The same day the baby wore shoes for the first time and really
enjoyed walking along the access road. Then in the afternoon I made a slingshot
and a mini figure. The kids collected a bunch of acorns for shooting purposes.
The fourth day the compost pile was set up....forgot to take a picture. The pet
bottle now collected tons of the worst bee. The weather was fantastic on this
September 23-26, 2021 - This was our fourth
overnight camping trip and another four days and three nights stay. The first
three days were spent almost entirely on the 100 meter section of road from the
parking area to the public walkway. A lot of the understory trees along the road
were cut and the leaf litter was raked up. The entire pile was burned and the
resulting potash was raked back into the forest for fertilization. The last day
of the trip saw the exploration of the corner of the land which backs up to the
access road and the public walkway. A bit of a surprise as this section actually
seems to split with one section covered with weeds and bamboo while the other
section is mostly understory trees along with huge oak, sugi, and hinoki trees.
The plan is to cut everything in both section. The weedy area will be used for
growing native banana trees and wild turmeric, while the other section will be
used as the source of wood for our cabins. This will open up the area with even
more sunlight and the potential to grow even more there. A few notable
happenings on this trip. The pet bottle containing the bug solution actually
caught a couple of worst bees which were hanging around the campsite. Another
green vine snake was seen close to the access road. A compost pile was made
using the leaf litter, humus, and potash obtained while making the campsite. The
last night of the trip saw a pretty good amount of rain and loud enough on the
top of the bus to preclude being able to watch clips of late night comedy TV.
The rain continued the next day but eventually the sun came out and we were able
to dry out the tent and other stuff.
September 18-21, 2021 - This was our third and
longest overnight camping trip....the total stay was four days and three nights.
The last night was kind of a last minute decision in order to finish up some
work, a plan which quickly changed thanks to rain....more about this later.
Anyway, I spent the first and second days raking up leaf litter and cutting
brush and understory trees amounting to about a one meter swath along a 100
meter section of the access road. The purpose was to allow more sunlight to hit
the road and hopefully dry up faster after a rain. This particular 100 meter
section is the path from our campsite to the public bathrooms. The third day
began with a light rain which meant being unable to burn the leaf litter
previously cut on the access road and the plan changed to finally checking out
the other forty percent of our property which was unexplored by us up to this
point. I made a trail through the forest stretching over 100 meters and was able
to access the two last points extending out into the reservoir. As it turned
out, the point where we hoped would be a level, buildable area was not, and
lovers point turned out to be perfect for a long rectangular house. the problem
is that point receives the most sunlight and needs to be reserved for growing
our food. The interesting note is that this section of land was supposed to be
bordered on both sides by the reservoir. The south side actually slopes to dry
land while the north section does, in fact, meet up with the reservoir. The new
plan for lovers point is now a terraced farm on the south facing slope with the
north facing slope reserved for animals. The fourth day it rained much more. We
quickly had to cover and pack our camping stuff. I decided to spend the entire
day working on, and around the campsite. I was able to finally sort out all of
the trees during the making of our campsite. The campsite, as it turns out, is
the only logical spot for our mountain home. Much more about this in future
September 8-10, 2021 - This was now our second
overnight trip, and once again, for three days and two nights. The first day was
spent removing a couple of very unsafe, dry and termite infested, oak trees.
While removing one of the largest sections, was almost hit by some branches
which fell off the top. Today was also all about smoothing out the tent area and
raking up more leaf litter. The second day was spent making a play pen which
connects to the tent entry. I used construction quality bamboo which is growing
along the access road. We made a nice broom out of the leaves. Then the last
section of the access road leading to the bathrooms was widened and raked up.
That night the kids played with glow sticks. Me and the older boys went for a
nighttime walk. Then on the way back to the campsite we saw a nocturnal snake
roaming around. The third day was spent working on the other end of the access
road....the entry. Many understory trees were removed and the road was widened
and the trash was burned and raked to the side. A possible plan to stay an
additional night went away when huge thunderstorms formed just off the coast.
Came home and apparently got chigger or mite bites all around my
August 29-31, 2021 - We went camping for the
first time on our mountain. The stay was for three days and two nights. Day one
was all about getting set up. All of us drove up in the truck except Akiko who
drove our recently converted brown farm bus which will now serve as a tent and
storage space. We set up the tent and small table and enjoyed our first night at
the mountains. The second day was spent removing all the trees we cut to make
room for the campsite. The third day was spent mostly on the parking area and
repositioning the bus. We put up all the keep out notices. Still getting over
the second round of poison oak and stubbed my little toe on a small tree chunk.
The kids had a really good time and all of us are making plans to move up there.
August 27, 2021 - Today was all about making an
access road from the parking area to the campsite in order to move the bus up
there. A lot of trees were removed and now we are ready for camping.
August 25, 2021 - Much of today was spent working
on the campsite. Possibly first day to see a worst bee. Yuk.
August 23, 2021 - Another soaked day up in the
mountains. Spent a few hours with a hand hoe and rake and got rid of the weeds
on the city road from the agroforest entry to the public walking road. Now easy
access to the public bathroom from the campsite. A bit more work on the campsite
and the parking area. Found a bird nest and was able to listen to deer sounds.
Was a very tiring day though.
August 16, 2021 - Today was all about the
campsite close to the entry. The mountain was soaked from a week of rain and
burning the leaves was difficult but worked out okay. Getting much closer to
being able to camp up there and finish up with the day trips. Walked to the
public bathroom which took about ten minutes each way. The road to get there is
full of weeds though.
August 9, 2021 - The tropical storm was now north
of the island and we decided to head up to the mountains once again. The
forecast was for a lot of wind but there was a moderate breeze at best. A partly
cloudy beautiful day. We spent the entire day working on the parking area and
the adjacent campsite.
August 7, 2021 - A crazy day up in the mountains.
We were in between a couple of tropical storms and the weather forecast called
for cloudy skies and a 25% chance of rain which they changed to 40% later in the
day. Anyway, looking at the radar map and being the weather geek that I am, I
was sure it was going to rain....and it did, a lot. The family was huddled in
the back of the truck for a couple of hours while I was out cutting understory
trees in the pouring rain. Anyway, we really thinned out the original campsite
close to the parking area. We are planning to move the brown farm bus up to this
campsite to be used for sleeping and for storage of things we would need to
continuously bring up there like the tent, sleeping bags, BBQ equipment, and
August 5, 2021 - A lot of work on the campsite
today. More soil removed from the tent area and another fire over an unwanted
tree stump using termite infested wood. Another attempt at making a trail to the
public walkway which leads to a bathroom and found a huge boulder. A large piece
was split off (forgot to take a picture) and rolled it all the way to the
campsite. Makes a great chair. A bit more work on the parking area.
August 3, 2021 - Came up with a crazy idea today.
The campsite is going to double as a kind of amphitheater for small concerts
with an audience of up to 50 people. We began taking out understory trees for
this purpose. The natural slope of the terrain is perfect for this. Work at the
campsite once again included burning a lot of previously cut understory trees. A
fire was made over the proposed tent site to get rid of roots and any ant
colonies. The banana tree and the sweet potato vines were untouched by the deer.
August 1, 2021 - Worked at the campsite basically
burning a lot of understory trees cut during previous trips. Got a visit from
the manager of the adjacent park who was wondering who was working on land he
thought was publicly owned. The banana tree was untouched by the deer. We put a
bunch of sweet potato vines, unplanted, to see if the deer would eat them.
August 2021 - A general update for the month. We
apparently came in contact with some type of poison oak within the last couple
of weeks. A lot of scratching and lotions and took about two weeks for this to
get better. We put in a call to the city about maintain the public access road
to the property and to pick up trash which we collected and put at the beginning
of the city road. The answer was okay about picking up the trash but a no about
maintaining the road which currently can only be accessed using a four wheel
drive vehicle. A week after the call and still the trash was not picked
up....typical island procrastination.
July 29, 2021 - Today was once again all about
the campsite. Moved the processed wood and stored it above ground basically
stuck between trees. All this work since another poisonous snake was seen, this
time, the multicolored variety. Processed a lot of wood from previously cut
trees. Made a campfire over a couple of the same tree stumps and cooked potatoes
wrapped in aluminum again. Brought an ice cream banana seedling and planted it
at the campsite to see if the deer would eat it. Update next trip.
July 27, 2021 - Today was all about the campsite.
Processed a lot of wood from previously cut trees. Made a campfire for the first
time over four tree stumps in order to remove them. Cooked potatoes wrapped in
July 19, 2021 - This was actually our first trip
up to the mountains as owners. Much of today was spent working on Sunrise
campsite. A bit of leveling and removing slightly larger trees. Many understory
trees were removed towards the goal of a panoramic view of the reservoir. A
green snake was seen roaming around. The setback today was a deer ate all the
sweet potato vines. The vines were a test to see if the deer were around and now
we got our answer.
July 15, 2021 - The Japanese equivalent of escrow
for the mountain property closed today. We are now the official owners of this
incredible piece of real estate.
July 12, 2021 - The parking area is getting
closer to being usable but still needs to be graded. Now Sunrise campsite is
basically usable but still needs grading to accommodate a tent. The small trees
on about half of the west facing slope were removed and the leaves raked. A
cloudy, windless, and very humid day.
July 8, 2021 - A bit more work on the parking and
a lot more work on Sunrise campsite with more small trees removed and a ton of
leaves raked. The first Mamushi snake was found and finished. Another very humid
July 4, 2021 - What better way to spend
Independence Day (means nothing in Japan of course) then to head up to our, soon
to be, mountain property. This trip was spent mostly expanding the parking area
and putting up gates using the old trees we cut. Then in the afternoon a bit
more work on Sunrise Campsite, including cutting a few more trees and raking
tons of leaves.
June 30, 2021 - We could not find the property
post for the southwest corner of our property. A bit of a disappointment since
this the location of this border is the only one on the property we are unsure
of. Removed half of six termite infested cedar trees using a hand saw in order to
increase the size of the parking area. Made a trail to one of the four planned
campsites and began cutting small trees to ready the spot for camping. BTW, the
deer did not eat the dill.
June 25, 2021 - We worked on the city access
road, which was total mess. Tree branches and bushes where making tons of
scratches on our truck. We cut many tree branches and raked up old wood and
leaves from the road. We also made a better turnaround for the truck. Before
returning home, we put some dill stems and leaves on the trail to see if any
deer might end up eating them.
June 22, 2021 - We decided to purchase the
property and were now in negotiations with the owner through the listing agent.
We headed up to the mountains with a different feeling this time now that the
decision to purchase was made. Although we did not own the property, we decided
to do a little work up there anyway. There was a pile of very old trash on the
side of the road somebody dumped off presumably many years before. We connected
a rope to the truck and dragged a soaked mattress loaded up with other trash to
the side entry of the access road. We made a parking area off to the side of the
access road. We then made an approximately 40 meter trail to what we thought
might be a good spot for a temporary campsite.
May 6, 2021 - With our farms well under control,
and now supplying 100% of our fresh veggie, fruit, herb, and beverage needs, it
was time to move on to another project. The mountain property came up in a
conversation between my wife and myself. We checked online and it was still
available, albeit at a price we were not willing to pay. Anyway, today we packed
up the truck, loaded up the kids and headed up to the mountain for a look. We
parked on the city owned dirt access road and made a makeshift hiking trail and
found a few property posts along the way.
Sometime during 2019 - We are guessing this is
about the time we first saw this property for sale online. We were still getting
used to farming on approximately a total of a quarter of an acre and the thought
of purchasing a 4.5 acre mountain was much too daunting a project.