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

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Over Regulated

The following are a few rules and regulations put in place to "protect us" from ourselves. Although most new laws are the result of some bad dude, or dudette, doing the wrong thing, these same laws now limit our freedoms and reduce our ability to enjoy our wonderful country.

I tend to write about the many contrasts between America and Japan since these two countries and societies tend to be at opposite ends of pretty much everything, in this case, a society (America) controlled by rules and regulations and a society (Japan) controlled by moral values.

I spent years in Japan. I lived exclusively in the countryside, first in Nara, Japan, a very traditional and conservative area, and then a couple of years on a small island off the coast of the mainland, a place with a very strong work ethic. The majority of foreigners who either live in, or visit Japan, usually frequent places like Tokyo, in order to be a part of the high energy environment that goes along with a large, modern, cosmopolitan city. Although they might visit a few temples and shrines, they usually miss what makes Japan work as a society, and more importantly, the contrast showing why America will never be able to obtain the same peace and tranquility. This is all related to the concept of wa.

Wa (和) is a Japanese cultural concept usually translated into English as "harmony". It implies a peaceful unity and conformity within a social group, in which members prefer the continuation of a harmonious community over their personal interests. Let’s take a moment and analyze a few of those words.

"members prefer the continuation of a harmonious community over their personal interests"

Already therein lies the problem with Americans and American society. Americans are, without a doubt, the most arrogant, self-centered, me me me me, creatures on the planet. This is inbred into our kids from an early age, teaching them they are the best, don’t take any shit from Johnny, and love yourself before you can love others. This is not the way to a harmonious society. While in Japan, our Japanese neighbors in both locations, were kind, giving, and peaceful people. In over seven years I never listened to anyone arguing, or even raising their voices for that matter, simply out of respect for those around them.

Wa is considered integral to Japanese society, and derives from traditional Japanese family values. Individuals who break the idea of wa to further their own purposes are brought in line either overtly or covertly, by reprimands from a superior or by their family or colleagues tacit disapproval. Hierarchical structures exist in Japanese society primarily to ensure the continuation of wa.

This is what makes Japan, what I like to call, a shame society, as opposed to American society, which requires rules and regulations to keep the people in line. Japanese people do not do bad things simply because it is morally wrong to do so, where as Americans (not everybody) do not do bad things simply out of the fear of being caught. These fundamental differences in societal philosophies constitute the reason why Japan works and American does not. This is also the basis for the perceived need for excessive rules and regulations, to control a population that is unable to control itself.
American Sacrifices

Ever since America became an independent country, the armed services have defended our freedoms both domestically and abroad. Without their sacrifices America would not have become the great country it once was....emphasis on the words it once was. Although many conflicts were initiated simply for economic gain, many were also necessary to preserve who we are as a people and as a society. But somewhere along the way, things changed, and dramatically. The freedoms which Americans fought for and once took for granted, were replaced by rules and regulations, which substantially took away the basic rights of our people.

I could write volumes about the rules and regulations in place at both the local and national levels designed to ensure our “safety”, but my intent here is not to write a book, but to simply open the minds of those of you reading this who still think you are living in America, The Land of the Free. The government, somewhere along the way, decided we are children who need to be protected in spite of ourselves.

Okay we are a far cry better than countries like China or North Korea whose governments impose their will upon the people with force and tyranny. But when you really think about it, America is not much different, we are simply more subtle about it, using the threat of stiff fines, and incarceration, to keep our citizens under control. Many things, which most would consider to be unalienable rights, have been slowly stripped away from us to the point of infringing on, not only our constitutional rights, but on our rights as American citizens, and even more basically, on our rights as human beings. The regulations on our daily lives were imposed so slowly and quietly, that most went unnoticed, became law, went uncontested, and were unknowingly accepted by the American public.

Driving while intoxicated is illegal

Okay this is one regulation that should be in place. Of course people should not be allowed to drink and drive. Why? Because of impaired judgment, and the increased possibility of doing harm to others. The key here is that DUI laws are designed to protect society and the rights of people to be able to drive in as safe an environment as possible. DUI laws are actually considerably more strict in Japan than they are in the U.S.

No alcohol allowed at public parks and beaches

Uh oh, this one is a bit of a problem for me. When I moved to San Diego, California many years ago, drinking on the beaches was still allowed. How nice it was to drink a beer at the beach on a hot Summer day. Then in the evening climbing to the top of Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park with a bottle of cabernet, and drink wine while watching a beautiful sunset. And this privilege was taken away because a few people got drunk one day and got in a fight. If some idiot wants to take a bottle of Jack Daniels up the mountain, get completely wasted, and fling himself off the side, isn't that his right? After all, it is his life to do with as he wants, and if he lacks the proper judgment to protect his own personal safety, why should the government intervene, as long as he is not harming anyone else. Another example of citizens being penalized, through reduced freedoms, because of the actions of a few idiots.

In Japan, every Spring, Japanese people get together in parks all over the country and sit beneath the cherry trees and get wasted....and I mean wasted. They sing and laugh, and eat good food, and drink more alcohol than you could possibly imagine, and all this fun with no fighting, and no problems, and not even a cop in sight waiting to cart someone off due to deviant behavior. Now that's the way things should be in a truly free land.

No overnight camping at public beaches and parks

Not many Americans realize the number of restrictions in place which work to diminish your enjoyment of public lands, lands which you pay high taxes to maintain. Not being able to camp outside on a beach or in a park is also an infringement of your rights, and a rule, again, written because a few unworthy citizens decided to be obnoxious, or worse, and ruin it for the rest of us.

Camping is legal basically anywhere in Japan, no permit required, with the unspoken rule that you will use common sense before, during, and after, your use of public lands. We camped at several of the beaches on the island where we are staying, and it was absolutely wonderful. There were no rules and regulations, no signs posted, and had this been the United States, we would have been fined and hauled away for the amount of regulations we would have violated. During these camping trips we enjoyed watching beautiful sunsets while drinking wine on the beach, made campfires to cook our food, and in the morning, walked out of our tent to enjoy incredible sunrises. Go try and do all that on a U.S. beach.

No camping on privately owned land

Okay this one really pissed me off. I was planning to move up to the mountains, somewhere in San Diego County, California, purchase a piece of vacant land, and build a house. I already own a home in the city and had planned to commute once in a while to the mountain property to work on the construction of the new house. I was going to pitch a tent occasionally and stay overnight due to the long drive from the city until I found out it was illegal to go camping overnight, even ON MY OWN PROPERTY.

Helmets are required for motorcycle riders

I do not ride, but I suppose for those who do, this was a difficult pill to swallow. Being able to ride with the wind in your hair, for those bikers who still have hair, must not be the same, with a piece of plastic affixed to your head. A classic example would be "Easy Rider" with those crazy freewheeling bikers: Wyatt (Fonda), nicknamed "Captain America", and Billy (Hopper). How would Wyatt, who dressed in American flag-adorned leather (with an Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge affixed to it) and Billy, who dressed in Native American-style buckskin pants and shirts and a bushman hat, have looked wearing DOT certified helmets? Pretty ridiculous, to say the least. It would have destroyed the entire free spirit feeling of the movie, which was a direct statement of the freedoms in American society.

Famous line from the movie and so true today:

"This used to be a hell of a good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it." He observes that Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it.

Anyway, if bikers want to ride without a helmet, and take the chance of hitting a tree unprotected, isn't it their right to do exactly that?

In Japan no laws exist (changed since this writing) requiring riders to wear helmets. Of course, Japanese people use common sense while riding and never seen someone, in Japan, popping a wheelie while riding on a public street....pretty commonplace in America....duh.
Long List

The preseding are but a few examples of how our freedoms and rights as Americans have been slowly taken away.

The list goes on and on of regulations, some of them incredibly idiotic, put in place by politicians for our "protection" and control. Visit a few of these links to see exactly how ridiculous things have become. As funny as many of these regulations seem, you might cry instead of laugh, when you think about the amount of time, energy, and money it took to put these laws in place. Peruse at your convenience:
Environmental Regulations

Companies are regulated as to the amount of pollutants they can release into the environment

Okay I put this in as an example of good regulations designed to protect our natural resources and preserve them for future generations.

Due to the strict building, and um camping on your own property regulations in California, I am considering moving back to my home state of New York. I almost gave up on this idea though when I found out the fish all along the Niagara River were still very contaminated with toxic chemicals and most fish were on the DO NOT EAT list. Pretty sad to think that, even with all the regulations now in place protecting the Niagara River and its tributaries, the fish are still inedible.

And now Trump and his team, more specifically Scott Pruitt, the soon to be new head of the EPA, will reduce, or more likely remove, the environmental protections now in place, allowing companies to realize economic gains at the expense of our natural resources and public lands. He is sending American in the wrong direction and will damage the environment in a way that will take years, if not decades, to repair.

Americans are allowed to own guns

Hey wait a minute, this isn't a regulation....well it should be. You need a license to get married, to drive a car, and even to go fishing to catch food for your family. You do not need a license to own a tool whose only purpose is to injure or kill. Considering the literally thousands of laws in place, which take away our personal freedoms, it certainly is a joke that there are almost no laws pertaining to gun ownership in America....oh yeah that outdated second amendment of the constitution. With all of the little things we're not allowed to do, at least the government continues to make it very easy for anyone to infringe upon the rights of shooting them. Americans have the right to live in a safe society, which is impossible when the population is armed to the hilt.

American society has become a haven for criminals and drug dealers, who are given the means to prey on innocent citizens, these same citizens, who have already had all of their freedoms regulated. Why do we continue to punish and penalize good citizens, while letting the bad ones literally get away with murder? The United States is now right up there with countries like Columbia in regards to crime statistics.

Meanwhile countries like Japan, where guns are illegal, enjoy a safe society where a shooting of even one person is extremely rare, is usually perpetrated by a foreigner, and makes the national news.
President Trump

Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America, and with the exception of the very real possibility of impeachment, will be the leader of our great country for at least the next four years....pretty scary. He will deregulate environmental protections, he will do nothing to change existing idiotic local and federal laws (see above) which take away our freedoms and rights, and he will continue to be lax on gun control, allowing criminals and drug dealers to control, and put fear into, our neighborhoods. All of his policy decisions and changes will be to benefit him, his family, and his team of billionaires, during his term as president, and for years to come. It continues to amaze me that the American public could be fooled so easily into electing a man who has shown such poor judgment in his business dealings, in his personal life, and now in the political spectrum. Not to mention the fact that this is simply a nasty man, and a terrible role model for our kids.


People want leadership, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

THE REAL TRUTH IS: We've had Presidents who were beloved who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand 'cause they're thirsty. They drink the sand 'cause they don't know the difference.

These thoughts compliments of Andrew Shepard and Lewis Rothschild….The American President.

The next four years are going to be a disaster, not only for America, but for the world as well. To all of you who voted for Trump, you are going to get exactly what you deserve.