Howie Hayman

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.
Agroforest Progress

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
- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 sushi.

- 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
- 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 mountain.

- This was an unusual one day trip in order to get a few things from the mountain that we needed at the house.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 difficult trip.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 camping.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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
- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

-  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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- This was actually a birthday trip to the mountain. We once again spent a little time at Urada Beach in the afternoon.

- 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 afternoon.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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
- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 trip.

- 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.

- 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 entries.

- 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 ankles....incredibly itchy.

- 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.

- 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.

- Much of today was spent working on the campsite. Possibly first day to see a worst bee. Yuk.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 tools.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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 aluminum.

- 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.

- The Japanese equivalent of escrow for the mountain property closed today. We are now the official owners of this incredible piece of real estate.

- 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.

- 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 day.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.