adams guild – A Forest Garten

December 1. First, to you guys below and everyone else who, over the years, have said nice things: Thank You! Hope things are well for you here in Japan and abroad. I’m back on the internet now and look forward to renewed correspondence.


Next, to you haters (see originators of this place) who trolled, spammed and otherwise tried to shit on kenelwood here in Japan: How is your life and your community now? Are you happy with yourselves? Did you successfully lambaste all of those who weren’t in 100% accordance with your view on how best to live simply? How did your self-promotion on the back of kenelwood work out for you?

From the hijacked version of the CLJ forum, which was put up in place of the original CLJ forum that was hacked in late 2015:

A phoenix arises from the ashes

The old Country Living forum was deleted by it’s admin along with all the posts and threads so we have created a new, thriving, vibrant and friendly community at.


Please come and join us, many of the old members from CLJ are there and we look forward to meeting new friends.

Last edited by Zasso nouka, 11/23/2015, 12:25 pm

I’ve waited a year to publish this, to see what these hacks could get away with.

Apparently, not much.

August 7. Recently found a nearbye 1 acre sato-yama/oku-yama rental property for 8 man per year, where I plan to back-fill food-bearing trees, build topsoil and hoist a one-man tent up into the trees.

In other findings, here’s a good FAQ at Horoka Tomamu Montane Forest ホロカトマム山林 Hokkaido biodiversity conservation project.

July 22. How are you ? Back on the net and I see a few things of interest going on, in particular Kai Sawyer’s new Tokyo Urban Permaculture website.

May 31. From Deep Green Permaculture: Backyard Orchard Culture, with a bunch of stuff you already knew, and some stuff you didn’t.

May 24. Here, I employ a dumbed-down version of the so-called “biodynamics” – one that uses less esoterism and spiritual input and more of the mimicking of Nature. Fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables are planted in a succession of layers, making use of companion planting and three-dimensional space:


May 22. Standing at the edge of a verdant forest garten is the shed – my tool house and seed bank.


May 21. Shot from roughly the same position as the picture below this one:


April ?. Wood-land:


April 3. I back-filled a Japanese Pepper sapling (pictured below), some wild yam seed and various flower bulbs, mainly those of the Iris family.

Also transplanted wild strawberry, lemon balm and black peppermint — with the intent to have it interspersed even more throughout the garten than it already is, not just in dedicated beds or zones or herb spirals.



March 31. I’ve been meaning to get back in the business of posting some original thoughts on life in general, but for now I just want to share a bunch of forest garten pictures. They’re of various on-goings, shot with an old Lumix GF1 camera:








March 29. Gone to the Nagano land.

March 26. The Buddhists say things like “tend your own garden”, which has always stuck with me. Its not your job to fix the world, but it is your job to be a good and useful person where you are. If we all did it, the world may just be fixed.

Down below in the comments section, Andy Couturier, author of A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance, asks us all to check out his book. I recommend you do. Below, Japanese Plum blossoms at the edge of a forest garten:



March 19. Star magnolia in full bloom (pictured below). Almond, apricot and plum in bloom as well (not pictured). Budding trees all over the place. Potato seed, carrot, burdock and zucchini recently sowed.



February 14. Slow winter, slow posting. More to come from here as the days get longer – I promise. Went to Kyoto recently to visit a friend’s smallholding – a forest garden on the edge of town, similar to mine.

In the news, “agrihoods” are finally profitable ventures in the States, which is a good thing. I can see this working in Japan as well but on a smaller scale, not with acres of row crops and fruit trees but with climbing vegetables, potted gardens and espalier fruit trees.

January 16. New from Our World, From Money Capitalism to Satoyama Capitalism.

January 9. June in a tree:P1060449


January 6. Via reddit, What is the relationship between Sayotama and Permaculture? My answer is way down at the bottom of the comments:

Satoyama is an intensively cultivated land that blends in with the surrounding environment. It’s an “edge” where wet rice cultivation not only depends on clean water flowing from the surrounding hills, but where the rice fields play a keystone role in supporting a rich, vibrant ecosystem.

Satoyama is also a culture, a life-way of sorts.

  • What is the relationship between Satoyama and Permaculture?

There is no connection per se that can be seen between the two — that is to say unless of course the founders of “Permaculture”, Mollison and Holmgren, didn’t derive satoyama knowledge and incorporate it into their ideas, OR people at present aren’t deriving satoyama knowledge and incorporating it into their permaculture designs and practices.

January 5. The Forest Web of Life.

January 4. Fruit Walls: Urban Farming in the 1600s, is about how crops were grown in between and surrounded by “fruit walls”, which stored the heat from the sun and released it at night, creating a microclimate that could increase the temperature.

To achieve a similar effect here in the forest garten, i’m doing an “edible windbreak” with evergreen fruit trees, loganberry bushes, dead branches and logs, and rocks. The microclimate is such that even now in January there are loganberries ripening, Irish potatoes growing, herbage that is thriving, and in general a patch of Earth that is resplendent in green.

Below you see some of that, plus more shots of various on-goings:

IMG_0020 IMG_0019 IMG_0018 IMG_0112 IMG_0021 IMG_0040 IMG_0008 IMG_0068 IMG_0069 IMG_0080 IMG_0087 IMG_0054 IMG_0057 IMG_0033 IMG_0037 IMG_0079


January 2. A well written essay from the U.S., What nobody told me about small farming: I can’t make a living.

Given today’s economic model, we need to start with the realization that small farming successfully is actually hard, complicated, and profit is never a forgone conclusion. Personally I think the Amish are doing it right by small farming for themselves first and then redistributing surplus a la sharing and selling and branding.

January 1. ‘Tis a new year ! First things first: Fig, Neem![vid], Bamboo and Japanese Angelica seedlings all got back-filled into the garten.

December 29. Dedicated eco-dude doing awesome stuff on the shore of lake Biwa in Shiga, and that link goes to his projects.

December 28. r/DIYJapan was recently launched at reddit, and that link goes to it.

December 21. Happy Solstice. Enjoy the Yuletide. We’ve been baking potatoes and bread, roasting chicken, and in general just feasting. To longer days and regular bountiful harvests !

December 19. Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity.

December 18. From Abundant Living in the Coming Age of the Tree – A Tree Based Culture, p. 32 and 33.

December 13. 180° South – In this 120 minute film Jeff Johnson retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. In connection to this: Chilean Patagonia spared from US$10 billion mega-dam project, which is fucking cool !

December 12. [permalink] Over my last 10 years here in japan I have been asked many times by various Japan-based journo outfits to write pieces on climate/environmental/sustainability issues. Kyoto Journal, Greenz Japan and OurWorld, to name a few. Yet I haven’t been able to produce one article for any of them.

People don’t like to hear this, but personal conservation does nothing to avert climate change. It might, if everyone had their own oil well. You could convert your house to solar, cap your well, and leave your oil in the ground. In practice, all the oil (gas, coal, etc) is sold to whoever wants it, and anything you conserve will just be burned by someone else. We imagine positive feedback, where our conservation is magically multiplied by everyone in the world, but the feedback is negative: as you organize more people to consume less, there is lower overall demand, lower prices, and more incentive for other people to consume.

So, even if you could organize a million people to use fewer resources, those resources would just be freed to be used by someone else. To stop consumption by voluntary action at the consumer end, you would have to organize every consumer in the world. It’s like you’ve got a hose with a billion leaks. Do you convince a billion people to painfully plug every hole with their fingers, or do you turn off the faucet?

Now, there will come a time when fossil fuels are so expensive to extract that renewable energy is cheaper, and then oil will be left in the ground for economic reasons. So the best way to reduce climate change is to spend money on renewable energy research, and burn oil to build alternatives to the present system. I’m reminded of the permaculturist who said that five gallon buckets are the best use of fossil fuels.

Of course I’m totally in favor of shifting out of the industrial consumption economy, but for a different reason than ecopuritanism. If you learn to live on less energy and less money, then you become stronger. You have more unstructured time to learn internal motivation, more mental space to think independently, and more skills that everyone will need as the industrial economy continues its decline. You’re not “saving the world”, but becoming a seed of a better world to come.

The difference people like us will make will not be to crush capitalism or save the planet, but to decide whether the inevitable crash is brutal and violent, or a cushion-y landing/transition.

December 11.



December 10. Via reddit, Are there any movements in Japan that aim to encourage a slow and ‘simple life’ away from the fast paced urban cities?, with lots of links to sites I haven’t seen before. Next, a new no-nonsense article from Chris Hedges: We Must Refuse to Participate in the Destruction of the Planet.

There are only a few ways left to deal honestly with climate change: sustained civil disobedience that disrupts the machinery of exploitation; preparing for the inevitable dislocations and catastrophes that will come from irreversible rising temperatures; and cutting our personal carbon footprints, which means drastically reducing our consumption, particularly of animal products.

December 5. Gone to the Nagano land.

December 2. A late planting of garlic goes in, the vegetable guilds are growing strong, I recently dug up a few kilos of Taro potato, and to my surprise our town is trying to, via newsletter, incorporate the garten here into their environmental mantra (no links).

Of course on the surface it looks benign – Forest gardening is hip and sustainable – but when you look deeper, what the town actually wants to do is use this green-space as a ploy not to get more people and farmers to live in this manner, but to increase the value of ag-land in our town, to market said ag-land to housing developers, and to appeal to prospective home buyers who will probably build over every last inch of dirt on their plots.

Where am I going with this rant? Nowhere.

IMG_0006 IMG_0022 IMG_0050 IMG_0030


December 1. Inspired by some of the guys at The Wanderlust of #Vanlife, I used hex bolts and wing nuts to fasten down three 2x4s and a handful of 1x4s to an Inno brand roof rack, and so now I’ve got what’s called a “wooden roof basket” atop my 1998 Toyota Hi-ace van:



November 27. Happy Thanksgiving to the folks back home.

November 21. I don’t want to say too much about the old CLJ Forum because it’s not a subject I want to have a long discussion about. It served me well for 8 years, as well as many others, but in its final moments it was overrun by a crowd of lambasters and trolls who showed up with a different social motive that was patronizing.

In the end they lost everything: All the golden nuggets of Inaka Truth(s), the tidbits on Country Living from so many perspectives via all corners of Japan and, I am sure to their surprise, the very infrastructure that they themselves used for communications. Contrariwise, the rest of us, a more virtuous circle of friends, came away with vision, adaptability and self-knowledge.

November 20. Not too often in the world of “permaculture” do we get to see the numbers, but Angelo from Deep Green Permaculture kept track, quite scientifically, of how much produce he got from his 60m2 garden, and it is astounding. In his fourth year he had 234 kg of produce.

Below you see a genki and curious Addison, now 4 months old:



November 14. Re-post: Check out the NHK video collection Satoyama Capitalism Series, or 里山資本主義シリーズ in Japanese. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos, the general theme is about how we should utilize the satoyama as a subsystem to international keynesian capitalism to avoid energy shortages, food shortages and social upheaval in the future.


November 13. Derrick Jensen’s latest, Why personal change does not equal political change, with great examples of why he thinks so. For how we can change the political system here in Japan, I always lean towards this question:

How would an army attack a castle in medieval Japan?, which can basically be answered as they didn’t storm the castle ! You don’t attack it with signboards and slogans, or even molotov cocktails, but rather you build around the edges an alternative that the castle/system has to contend with, eventually rendering the castle/system weak.

Next, below you see the uplands where I sometimes stay in Nagano, at 4 p.m. today:


November 9. Awesome permablitz conducted the other day in Shonan, led by none other than two of Japan’s foremost public leaders of permaculture, Kai Sawyer and Phil Cashman, and that link goes to the story about it.

November 8. Many good posts from Kurashi recently on TPP specifically, and that link goes to them. The TPP is by-big-business, for-big-business, and it should come as no surprise that it’s anti-Earth in general. Unrelated: the harvest season continues here with Taro potato being the most recent dig. “June”, the Cochin rooster that lives here, is now around 5 months old and crows every morning and afternoon:


November 7. Greater than the sum of its parts is about a new coyote-wolf-dog hybrid that is spreading through eastern North America. Like a wolf, it can hunt in the woods and is big enough to take down a small deer. Like a coyote, it’s highly adaptable and can live around humans, even in large cities. It’s not just the animal itself that’s interesting, but that something genetically stable, and more fit than its ancestors, can appear so quickly.

November 1. We finally got our puppy, and not the one we were expecting. He’s a Border Collie, intelligent and obedient even at only 3 months of age. We expect he will be “useful” for us here and in Nagano. We call him Addison:


October 31. Happy Halloween.

October 19. Peter Bane in his latest interview advocating a grass-roots approach to Earth regeneration and building community and economy.

October 17. Remember Sean in The Slow life in Japan (vid) from 2005? Here in a response to a blog post in 2010 he mentions that he gave up the mountain life: Alternative Lifestyles in Kahoku. Next, it looks like last year Shikigami came to a close:

We have decided to bring the Shikigami project to a close. It has always been our intention to develop a forest garden community, living and working together to achieve a high level of self-sufficiency, resilience and autonomy. After four years at our current location it has become clear that we will not be able to gain access to enough land to achieve that here. Thus we have decided it is time to bring our project to a close and to move on to the next phase.


October 16.Derrick Jenson recently interviewed Chris Hedges (50 minutes), and that link goes to the mp3. They discuss the difficulty of getting a radical or even progressive message out to people in these days of society in decay, spectacle, and unwillingness to hear uncomfortable truths. They also talk about rebels, revolutionaries and revolt, and get into the ‘how-to’ of it all.

October 15. Here’s a link to three possible futures of my neighborhood, or yours… the bottom panel is the permaculture one.  I should mention that this link is to a famous R. Crumb drawing, which are a sequel to Crumb’s Short History of America. IMG_0100


October 12. Jeepers creepers, The Forest in Japan [vid].

October 11. Off the Grid, But Still Online is about people who’ve “abandoned the chase of the American Dream; they are not battling traffic to work a nine-to-five job in order to live in a big house or buy a fancy car. Instead, their values are centered around new life experiences, connecting with nature, building their own homes, growing their own food, and having a full sense of control over their lives—including managing the amount of time they spend on the internet.

October 10. A reader asks about my wood-chips and where they’re from. The chips are 25-40 mm long x 4 mm thick and were made from the branches of sugi trees. I ordered them from Kanayama Chip Center in Gifu Prefecture, and that link goes to it.


October 6. Almost 2 years ago I wrote about how I think we can regenerate the Satoyama Economy by reintegrating it back into our present day economy, mostly because It’s what I want to see happen; and it could be a coincidence ( I jest), but since then I’ve been accidentally doing it by myself. In an attempt to reach a wider audience I’ve posted the idea to /r/environment at reddit, and that link goes to it.

October 5. Don’t ask how much it cost me in monies to have 840 kilograms of sugi wood-chips delivered from neighboring Gifu Prefecture. Rarely do I import into the garten here, but good conifer wood-chips are hard to come by/create locally. Below you see the garten trails mulched:


October 4. The Fall is upon us. For anyone interested in the “social enterprise” I’d been working in earnest to set up this past Summer, I can tell you that it’s now raking in a good amount of yen per four Friday evenings a month. Hopefully by this time next year I can retire from my part-time job in the city. Some random pictures from the garten are below:


October 1. Gone to the Nagano land.

September 27. In the news, Japan falls back into deflation for the first time since 2013 . Getting rid of deflation has been the first priority of the Abe administartion. If the trend continues like this it means they’ve failed to fulfill their manifesto. But it hasn’t been a complete failure for the larger system(s) here, which used “Abenomics” as a sort of publicity stunt to A. rally the plebs to move futon money and take on more debt, and B. to impress foreign investors with A. while installing big biz infrastructure abroad.

September 10. A fun way to see the world on the internet: Random Street View 

September 9. Typhoon ! Battened down the hatches, now learning The True Size of

September 1. When the rains come here every year in late summer, the garten feels almost sub-tropical – a super watergarten with fruit trees hanging heavy and climbers a-climbing, not to mention scores of ants, beetles, nematodes, water crawlers, tree frogs and lizards moving about. Below you see some of that:


August 28. The Wanderlust of #Vanlife is a video about a group of people who, together, drive decades-old vans into beautiful country.

August 23. Jidori — heirloom “local chicken”. This is June, and he’s of the Nagoya Cochin variety. We got him, him!, back in June and he’s now a juvenile. He’s the only rooster here in the garten and we’re happy that he stays here. When he’s full grown he’ll be HUGE !


August 21. Why low-tech living is back. It’s about the resurgence of books, vinyl records, polaroid cameras, typewriters, and simple cell phones. So we’re not talking stone axes, but the point is that we are not being permanently sucked into rising technological complexity; we are capable of pulling back to get subtle improvements in quality of life.

August 20. The Cinder Cone is a video of some guys building an awesome double treehouse on beautiful land overlooking the Columbia river.

Unrelated, fifteen years ago my wife’s grandfather grew rows of spinach here:


August 19. TRUMP for President ! in 2016 (U.S.A.). Kidding. But I do predict he’ll get the job via repetition bias, plus the fact that he embodies a lot of what average America wants to do /slash/ be.

Pictures from the summer garten here:


August 17. I’m back ! How are you ? I was in Nagano for some time, not to mention Hawaii. At both places I’ve got major projects going on, hands-on and intensive, both to be properly documented. I’m currently looking at a new property to develop à la permaculture in rural ! Nara ! Prefecture. For now the Garten here sustains us with eggs, cukes, egg plant, black berries, okra, peppers, toms, corn, beans, goya, taro, fig, kiwi, plums, apples, and herbs…

Next, on September 11 and 12 I’ll be at Yamauto in the mountains on Kyoto Prefecture. If you’re there, I’ll see you !

April 16. Here’s something fun for a rainy day: GeoGuessr is a browser game that shows you a random Google street view and you try to guess where it is on a map. Things are Springing here — Below you see some pictures from the garten:


April 7. This is my secret water garten, or satoyama, an intensively cultivated land at 3,330 feet in elevation that blends in with the surrounding environment. Much of rural Japan was once such satoyama, where wet rice cultivation not only depended on clean water flowing from the surrounding hills, but the rice fields played a keystone role in supporting a rich, vibrant ecosystem:


April 6. A big part of me just wants to leave it as it is — 160 years and counting at 1,000 meters in elevation, like a time capsule for my childrens’ kids to open, or an artifact for an archaeologist to uncover, but also at the same time I need to make it inhabitable. I need to make it alive again — a working kominka:


April 5. Below you see sakura blossoms, a green house, frogs and a lizard – all, going on right now in the garten. The sakura is the Yoshino variety; the green house is a lean-to done with old glass panes from a solar hot water heater; the frogs and lizards have just now become active.


April 2. The good news from Nagano is that I backfilled two big apple trees, four ginkgo and one walnut. I also wood stained parts of the kominka exterior; discovered where some of my terraced rice paddy are; and completed some tree cutting that I’ve been meaning to do:


April 1. Back from the Nagano land with some bad news this time. First, a lot of my seedlings are doing badly. Only a handful made it over winter, while the rest either succumbed to heavy snow or gave up the ghost before the onslaught of winter.

Second, the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that rocked Hakuba in November of last year, really shook my place in Ogawa too. While the farmhouse made it out relatively unscathed, the kura’s (storage sheds) sustained serious external damage, with lots of the wall plaster haven come off.

March 28. Gone to Nagano.

March 27. Some more pictures from the garten: blossoms, herbage, young fruit, flowers, firewood and buds.


March 23. Below you see sub-par bird pictures from left to right: Oriental turtle dove, tree sparrow, brown-eared bulbul and white-eye. Also, in the garten I see white-cheeked starling, eye-browned thrush, bush warbler, humming bird, carrion and jungle crow, swallow, skylark, and wagtail. 6 years ago, with fewer trees, I saw 1/3 of this variety of bird.


March 22. 22°C on 3.22. Just beautiful weather. The neighborhood kids are coming in droves now to get in and explore the garten. Below you see another magnolia flower picture, some rosemary blossoms, some wild onion and a Rocket flower:


March 21. In personal news, BOJ yen inflation coupled with record breaking oil glut, has been working for me:

● 120 yen/US $1 has been holding steady since December of last year, but with low oil prices I’ve actually been able to save money by buying food and chicken feed in bulk. This, while the price of small packaged items increased.

● Price increases in electricity and propane (gas) haven’t effected us in the slightest because we have always used less anyway. Over winter chainsaw oil and gas was always on sale, which lent to more firewood production and less sunset energy consumption.

● Our school bus (school where I teach [15+ employees]) saved a brick-ton of money on petrol costs over the past year, rendering super positive cash flow for the school, plus for myself an annual raise of 50 man yen. Now I’m moving well above the annual mean household net-adjusted disposable income for Japan, which is something like 280 man yen. This, at four half-days a week of work for me, or like 18 hours per week.

● Land tax for my property in Nagano came down 33%, which roughly covers the cost of one trip there for me. If inflation continues, land tax for my particular area can only come down.

March 20. Below you see magnolia, purple cherry plum and apricot blossoms, as well as a patch of young garlic plants. Next, after years of neither seeing or hearing them, yesterday I both saw and heard the long awaited Japanese warbler ! The garten, it seems, is beckoning them.


March 17. Here we grow again. Every Spring I can’t help myself from documenting the re-growth in the garten. It has become THE annual event for me. Below you see Ivy, hellebore, a volunteer daphne, and a group of young fire lily:


March 16. From The Economist, Root and branch, about how prime minister Abe is overhauling the powerful JA farm co-operatives, and that link goes to it. Over the past few years I’ve been saying that TPP is at our doorstep because of the way JA operates and not in spite of it, and to never forget the system in place that doesn’t want TPP. At this point, to me, it doesn’t even matter anymore which way it goes — TPP, JA, or whole permaculture systems.

Yes, it’s because I’ve worked in earnest over the past 10 years to make whatever happens non-destructive to me personally, but it’s also because no matter what I still see room to build a big system out of many “cells”. Within your cell, you have power and your life has meaning. And your cell is linked to other cells and has power within a larger system, and that system has power within a still larger system. In the whole system, political power could be almost completely bottom-up, we could smoothly adapt to change, and the connections would not reach the density to make it unstable.

I am the leader of my cell. How about you?

March 12. A week ago Sarah Perry made a new post on Ribbonfarm, Gardens Need Walls: On Boundaries, Ritual, and Beauty. These are the main points:

1) Good systems are made of many subsystems with boundaries. This enables more diversity and it’s much easier to solve problems. Examples would be bodies made of many cells, islands with different ecologies, technological systems built out of modules, and human societies made of many tribes or neighborhoods.

2) The march of civilization has destroyed boundaries and subsystems in order to build one giant system, and this is a bad thing. This is why “the system” is so clunky, so unsatisfying, and why we have no power. The metaphor here is mountain climbers roped together. If one falls, they all fall; but we’re like billions of mountain climbers who, because of that danger, are not permitted to move at all, but remain stuck in mediocrity.

3) Ancestral cultures are more elegant and beautiful than modern culture because they are small enough that individual humans influence them, and also because they are constrained by rules. An example would be children who learn to play music together on instruments that force them to all play in the same key.

March 11. Can’t forget that day.

February 23. Damn. Winter was chaotic and I’m finally back to the blog after a long and most obvious absence. Between rearing 3 young children and setting up a small social enterprise where I live, I couldn’t even make time for the internet, let alone write here or at the CLJ Forum. Just back online now and I see that Kitchengardenjapan may be scoring a free cabin in the woods, the guys and gals at CLJ are having a very productive conversation, Kurashi’s posting is as excellent as ever, and Kai Sawyer recently published a Permaculture book in Tokyo. What else is going on?

I still need to fix my computer. I also need to drink less beer and do more push ups. I bought a chainsaw for the Yuletide but I hate using it. It’s loud, it reeks of gasoline and it’s dangerous. My wife and I have decided to keep and raise a Siberian Husky. The search for a puppy is ongoing.

This Spring I plan to transplant a good amount mountain flora into the garten here. Over the past few years the tree canopy and underwood have thickened to the point of forest-like micro-environmental conditions, with varied dynamics and biodiversity, but because our location here is too far from the mountains for birds to bring in seed, I’ll continue to bring it in myself.

On a similar tip, How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast is about some people who have figured out how to greatly accelerate the rate at which forests grow back, and they even have some money behind them.

December 7. Big transitions underway – here and in Nagano. The Yuletide is upon us!

October 13. I’m calling no economic crash and no hyper-inflation ala Bass. I see deflation, maybe not 80 yen/dollar deflation, but deflation nonetheless.

Abenomics was a publicity stunt to A. rally the plebs to move futon money and take on more debt, and B. to impress foreign investors with A. while installing big biz infrastructure abroad.

A. They say the tax hike was intended to get people to spend their futon money. Some people did spend, heck, including me. Now they say the tax hike is hurting the economy… But my hunch is people are just hording money, as they do so well here, not breaking even under the pressures of an inflationary state. What the gov. does make on the extra 3% goes towards paying pensioners. If the pension investment funds don’t do well in the investment market, watch out for the consumption tax increase to 10%. Shoganai – nothing to see, carry on.

Women working outside the house would have happened anyway, demographics say so. Same with change or a mix up in the agriculture scene. Abe didn’t need to make those “arrows”, they already were.

People are finally figuring out that inflation and the arrows aren’t really in their favor.

B. Thanks to a QE on steroids, Japan has been steadily moving production to Southeast Asia and India, where labor costs are still relatively cheap and geopolitical tension is less. Japan has also been steadily wooing western investors with their so-called “arrows” for domestic economic recovery. Invest in Japan {VID} !

Pretty sure now, after seeing what we’ve seen with QE and localized debt, the yen won’t go hyper – it was inflated to make business moves, chiefly with foreigners, not to reward Japanese SME’s or the man on the street here. Once the infra corps get set up abroad, all installed and established there, the J-gov will deflate the yen so corps can make money on imports again, and the gov can proceed with its tax revenues.

From now on:

Hording will continue still, and people will look for cheaper and cheaper goods, which are mainly produced (this includes sourcing) by large companies, the same companies who now get that stuff (ingredients, etc.) made for cheap(er) abroad. Deflation will have to come back as businesses compete for foot-traffic, just like the oil cartels are competing for users right now.

September 20. I’m taking the rest of the month off from blogging, and going to do a bunch of BBQ’s in the garden. Also, my computer has been infected with mal-ware (!), so until I get my computer back to normal I’ll probably just stay off line.

September 19.


September 18.


September 12. He’s back! If you don’t know about this guy, I can tell you he is a master gardener, master English-man, and in general a master of the Universe. You can find him at Kitchengardenjapan, in Yamaguchi.

September 11. Demographic crisis empties out Japan’s rural areas, with examples and a long comment section.

A key solution requires a change in values where we price agricultural work higher than investment banking and computer programming and value quality food more than electronic trinkets. This would move young people back to the land but it doesn’t seem likely in the near future, so we’ll just have to watch towns die off and politicians give lip service to the problem.

Related: Abe Shinzo has given Takaichi Sanae the task of rural revitalization.

Some flowers:


September 10. Kurashi is on a roll, with almost daily posts on a slew of on-goings in Japan. To me it seems that Japan’s long-time structural regiment is at risk of unraveling, or breaking open to something new, but these things take time in Japan. By the time TPP gets here, it will somehow be on Japan’s terms, incorporated into the fabric of the dying agriculture here. The taxing and inflation and debt inheritance will continue to keep the so-called “middle class” pinned down (indebted to the system), just like they’ve always been.

Related: Five reasons why agricultural reform will be a tough slog

Anyway, below you see my keyhole raised bed, a tree frog, a bull frog, and ivy growing up some butts of wood:


September 6. This is a papaya tree, aged 5 1/2 months, well over 2.7 meters tall, laden with growing fruit. Apparently, if given the right conditions, papaya will produce fruit the first 6-9 months, so I’m hoping for ripe fruit in a few weeks from now. Will it work? Will I be able to eat fresh papaya before the first frosts of Autumn?:


September 3. One more month until they fall. Until then I am waiting, watching…

In other news, DNF is roasting coffea beans in Hyōgo, Kurashi recently published his monthly eco links, and 77% of the fuel rods in unit 4 at Fukushima have been removed.


September 1. [VID] Anna Coote – why we should work a 21 hour week [7 minutes]; to address overwork, unemployment, over-consumption, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, and the lack of time to live sustainably, to care for each other, and simply to enjoy life.

Related: A massive reddit thread, If you were a Japanese politician, what policies would you try to implement?, that shows many a person here thinking about workplace reform. We need a deep transformation of the wage labor system, so we work 20-40 weeks a year, instead of 50 or zero.

Further related: Black Companies, from Tofugu.

Personally, I wouldn’t try to implement any new policies for anybody except myself. And I tend to think that if everybody took this position, or something similar to it, we wouldn’t need to go the way of policy change via policy makers.

August 30. Two linear rows of Andes red potatoes. I expect a 6:1 return. Red potatoes are loaded with antioxidants, believed to aid in preventing certain cancers and types of blindness, as well as improving cardiovascular health.


August 26. For Sale – Niigata Kominka. 130 man yen. 185 tsubo property. Good looking interior. Thatch roof covered in tin. Google map here. Topo map here.

August 25.


August 24. Some links. In Tokyo, Kai Sawyer is crowdfunding for his upcoming Urban Permaculture book. Kurashi recently wrote a good cautionary tale about going back to the land and trying animal husbandry: Permaculture, A Story.

Sober Look reports on 10-year JGB yields near 0.5%. And from ex-skf, Nature Slowly Taking Over Deserted Futaba-Machi, with a few before and after pictures. Lastly, from Japan for Sustainability: Rainwater Harvesting in Japan is Catching On.

Here, caterpillars abound – Both moth and butterfly. If their numbers in any one tree look like it will be detrimental to the tree, I cut off the branches they are on and place them in the under-story:


August 23. Rare video footage of John Michael Greer – Economics Energy & Environment Conference 2014 – What Can One Person Do?


August 21. New from the Forest Journalist, Forest Clear-cutting for Golden Eagles, a piece on a largish-scale (250 acres・100 hectares) forest clear-cutting project in Gunma Prefecture. The basic idea is that by clear-cutting we can create a better natural habitat for golden eagles, however it doesn’t come without the risk of blowback.

August 20. From Agricultural Innovations, Episode #145: The Failure of Permaculture, with some examples of permaculture’s lackluster financial performance in the US.

Personally for me permaculture is about just enough and finding contentment, not exerting energy to make money. I like that it’s focused on rebuilding the top soil and growing perennials and growing food and transforming yards into useful spaces, making everything have multiple functions.

To me permaculture is not just about making it in the current economy, it’s about planning for a future economy after unsustainable practices fail and leave us with nothing but the more sustainable ones, which is something that I think young adults today will see as they grow old.

August 19. Apples, kiwi and chicken eggs:


August 17. In Tokyo, Kai Sawyer will be doing a talk on urban permaculture, and that link goes to the event details.

August 16. Joesph Campbell: The Power of Myth (1988) – [56:39]

August 15. Forest garden as HOLISM {ὅλος・全体論} – Three-dimensional harvest, carbon dioxide sequestration, carbon storage, nitrogen capture, animal habitat and nursery, recreation and environmental education, water purification, and oxygen production:





August 14. Great new post from Kurashi, Want To Grow Vegetables? JA Youth May Be Able To Help? “New Farmer” Trend…?, with a link to a discussion post from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, where in the comments we learn from the Japanese Agicultural cooperatives about their effort to incorporate young people into agriculture.

They explain the close connection between being “financially independent” and having “opportunities to make agriculture incomes“, and advise us that this connection is paramount to moving forward. They go on to explain the infrastructure already in place here: tens of thousands of youth members and thousands of farmers markets.

Personally I wouldn’t want to be locked into this system. Look at my J-parents and their fellow farmers; look at the debt they have accumulated over the years under the guidance (rule) of JA. Are young people going into this arrangement with JA unaware of the policies that JA has expounded for decades, or do they know it but reluctantly proceed because there is no alternative? Or tangentially, have JA-dependent farming families merely added their childrens’ and grand-childrens’ names to JA’s Youth list, perhaps in exchange for an extra box of free tissues?


August 13. New from the NY Times, Don’t let your children grow up to be farmers, about how in the US it’s almost impossible to make money growing food, and some politically unrealistic ways to fix it.

How about Japan? Based on what’s happening here right now, demographics and all – I imagine in 20 years there will be mostly corporate managed rice production in the lowlands, automated food factories in the cities, some people growing stuff for personal consumption, and a few family operated farms in between.

Permaculture and Natural farming will probably be left for the spiritual and non-believers of the religion of progress. As we pass through the bottleneck of resource exhaustion, you’ll eat fresh fruits either by having money coming out your ears, or growing them in your garden.

August 12. Ed writes,

You mention growing papaya, how is it a-wintering over in your area?

I picked up a seedling (papaya) at the Homecenter back in the Spring, and of course don’t expect it to overwinter in our climate here, but just want to see what I can get away with over the warmer half of the year. Apparently, if given the right conditions, papaya will produce fruit the first 6-9 months, so that’s what I’m trying to do – a sort of live fast, die hard approach.

Below you see it fruiting. Also you see my keyhole raised bed, now empty after almost everything in it was destroyed by typhoon 11. Then there are olives and prune plums:


August 11. More from John Michael Greer at C-Realm – The Myth of Progress.

August 10. KunstlerCast 256 — A Conversation with John Michael Greer. Pragmatism, thoughtfulness and vision.

August 9. Enter Pyongyang [VID].

August 8. The Trap (2007) – Fascinating BBC documentary that exposes how power manipulates people into believing they have freedom.

August 7. I’ve added Umbrella Pine Permaculture to my Super-Active links. They do Permaculture and Satoyama Living in Fujino, “the Tibet of Kanagawa“. From their site:

In the coming years, we see this place to evolve into a community where people from all over the world could come visit to see applied permaculture practices in a uniquely Japanese setting, and can harvest organic vegetables and attend workshops/tours that focus on how we can realistically pursue sustainable living and agriculture, which is abundant(豊か) and luxurious(贅沢)for the soul as a result.

August 3. It’s been too long since I’ve posted a link to music. Check out Permanent Holiday by Mike Love in Hawaii.

August 1. A reader writes,

Where do you think climate change is headed?

The oceans are getting demonstrably warmer and the climate is still heating up on average. Climate change will most likely increase both cold and hot extremes, while on average most regions, and certainly the whole planet, is getting warmer.

Climate change is altering the jet stream. Look at occasionally (500 mbar or 250 mbar height) and notice how the jet stream is now very slow, meandering and asymmetric. It’s quite likely that blocking highs and persistent lows will only get more common in the future. Extreme weather fucks up crops and human infrastructure even worse than the slowly warming climate which in itself will move hardiness zones and weather patterns in the long term.

July 31. Another insightful monthly eco round-up from Kurashi, this one for July. Personally I like the beginning and ending parts, both showing that sometimes a great way to make change happen is to be that change and do it yourself.

July 30. A type of water lettuce! I don’t know its exact name but it grows well enough on the water in dappled shade:


July 27. I did this last year but didn’t document it. I do taro potato at the edges of a comfrey and straw filled trench that receives duck fertilized water down a swale system from a small pond. The potatoes are interplanted with papaya, loquat and pawpaw:


July 26. I’ve added Dream Seed Farms to my Super-Active links. Via permaculture and the Transition Town movement, these guys are trying to transform the island they live on {vid} in Miyagi Prefecture.

July 25. In Nagano.

July 24. For anybody that missed it, How would an army attack a castle in medieval Japan?, via reddit. Basically they didn’t storm the castle, and this goes back to how you can change the system in Japan. You don’t attack it with signboards and slogans, or even molotov cocktails, rather you build the alternative that the castle/system has to contend with, rendering the castle/system weak, irrelevant, and unnecessary.

July 21. In the news: A Japanese Hamlet Is Now an Economics Lab.

July 20. Lost Treasures Of The Ancient World – Japan, a video (50 minutes).

July 19. Here’s a good picture showing the best way to do solar panels. Read Agrivoltism for more details. Apparently some farmers in Japan are already doing solar this way, which is awesome !

July 18. Surfing:


July 14. I’ve been waiting for a slow week to announce this. Ten years ago my goal in life was to have children, have large blocks of free time, have a house, build stuff, grow food, and learn practical skills. I was lucky that I’ve been able to do all that. Now, looking forward, my goal is to restore the Nagano mountain property I purchased last year.

Because I don’t have very much money to throw at the property, I’m going to have to spend a good deal of time figuring out the most cost-effective way of proceeding, and learning a lot about Japanese kominka. To this end, I’ve set up a new journal to gather information, brainstorm and share on-goings. Here’s the link:





July 12. Land, Farmer, Community: A Sacred Trust, a great piece from 2007 on shizen nouhou in Japan.

July 10.


July 8. A new piece:

July 7. Loose ends and stray link for tanabata, Why Abenomics Flopped, with insight into why this system is leaving the working poor behind.

Abenomics was never intended to help the working poor in Japan, it has been a show for chiefly foreign investors. It’s about printing mountains of money for manufacturing and development abroad, keeping the value of the yen just under the value of the US dollar, keeping domestic spending going with the new consumption tax in place, and keeping the Japanese united against a common enemy, whether it be China or China’s smog.

Wages are stagnant or falling because everyone’s locked in hard to A. one job, and B. contracts, without time or chance to freelance or even moonlight.

A. How much does everyone work? When I heard Abenomics was coming the first thing I did was to negotiate a deal at the school where I teach English. 3.5 days per week instead of 5 with full-time pay and family health insurance, which gave me +/− 70 extra days off per year. In total, with holidays, 180 days off per year. With the extra time I can pursue interests that further enable me live on the edge of the system.

B. What contracts are people locked into? I don’t do credit cards, pension, loans and cellular phones, and when I heard Abenomics was coming I unscrewed light bulbs, dropped cable T.V., bought mountain land, found the cheapest internet service provider, and gave away a 1994 kei-van and traded a 2008 model vehicle for a 1998 model vehicle with better fuel economy. I also bought bitcoin in 2013, and some Swiss franc, Singapore dollar and Norwegian crown just there after.

July 6. An emerging market for domestic wood, these guys in Kyoto are harvesting “sacred timber” and making caskets with it [VID]. Product here.

July 5. Here’s an idea: plant climbing vegetables like cucumber at the base of a nitrogen fixing tree like acacia, or black locust, and come back for your harvest. Other pictures below are of a kiwi canopy, a papaya tree, fire lily, tomatoes and young date-plums, apple and figs:


July 4. New video from David Holmgren on why shouting out loud to change the power base is a futile endevour, while making tangible change on the ground is proactive, solvent and righteous.

July 3. Japan’s cabinet approves a landmark change in security policy, paving the way for its military to fight overseas.

According to the new conditions, Japan can come to the aid of a friendly nation if:

A. The attack on that country poses a clear danger to Japan’s survival or could fundamentally overturn Japanese citizens’ constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
B. There is no other way of repelling the attack and protecting Japan and its citizens.
C. The use of force is limited to the minimum necessary.

July 2. For anyone interested in getting away to the Pacific Northwest permaculture scene, Kai Sawyer is doing a two week tour in early September, and that link goes to the specifics. If only I had the wherewithal for it. In Nagano, an unmistakable paramount thrusts into the clouds:


July 1. Inside the storehouse we found many older things, mostly knick-knacks. Some of the wooden hand tools are still usable, most of the linens are probably not. Very happy to report that the Meiji-era wooden grain silos are in mint condition:


June 30. Simple, durable, with a timeless function, below you see a 150 year old traditional Japanese storehouse at my place in Nagano. It’s structurally sound with lots of internal hardware, but it could use a clean up and a new layer of a plaster, or shikkui in Japanese. The clean up work:


June 29. Back from the Nagano land. I climbed up hill for 30 minutes to get the shot you see below, which I describe as “hidden valley”, because it’s well insulated. Down there I’ve got a few rice paddies:


June 27. In Nagano.

June 26. Unsurmounted waves of bounty – that’s psychoactive asagao (top left), munchies and fresh air to breathe, not to mention a place of ever-evolving aesthetics. Of course I’m talking about a forest garden:


June 25. I’ve added Inaka House to my Super-Active links.

June 24. New from Richard Heinberg, Want to Change the World? Read This First, with good advice for people living in first world countries:

Start by identifying your core values—fairness, peace, stability, beauty, resilience, whatever. That’s up to you. Figure out what ideas, projects, proposals, or policies further those values, but also fit with the infrastructure that’s almost certainly headed our way. Then get to work. There’s plenty to do, and lots at stake.

June 23. The general rule of thumb is to “Chop and Drop Mulch” when rainfall exceeds evaporation. This means I will chop plants and prune certain trees right when the rainy season is about to start. Below you see some loquat tree branches that were chopped and dropped. You also see elephant garlic and an elephant sized earthworm, taro potato plat growing directly out of a wild strawberry patch, and an artichoke thistle flower:


June 22. TIL there’s a city in Georgia, U.S. with a golf cart path infrastructure over the whole town, where the large majority of the population own golf carts, and that link goes to the city homepage and their golf cart path maps.

If nobody’s thought of this yet for Japan, then I want to mention it here:

Golf cart paths and golf carts
Solar golf carts [img] !

The catch is that the maximum speed is 25mph (40 km/h). We could have solar driving right now, at a speed that would have seemed miraculous 150 years ago, and instead we’re wasting the last of the oil to maintain our ridiculous driving speeds, because we’re in so much of a hurry.

June 21. New, “Abandoning regular jobs, women are taking up arms to take down wild deer — whose rising populations are threatening fields and mountains.Japan’s ‘hunter girls’, and that link goes to a piece about it.

June 20. Holy shit ! Angry farmers from Fukushima brought a large cow to the centre of Tokyo, and that link goes to a piece about it.

June 19. For years I’ve been reading Ted Taylor’s blog, Notes from the Nog, and that link goes to it. Although Ted is an incredible walker, he reminds me of a gardener. Gardeners move about in their territory and notice changes; they also intervene to push ecosystems in the direction of greater productivity for themselves. By adapting the attitudes of a gardener, you notice much more.

June 18. “Agrihoods” take root in the U.S., and that link goes to a piece about it.

June 17. American Socrates, by Chris Hedges, with important information from Noam Chomsky about what’s really going on in America and elsewhere. Here, the garden is abundant in foods and foliage, even without much rain. Below you see green tomatoes, a spider web, potatoes and young grapes:


June 16. The Coming Wealth Transfer, an idea by Chris Martenson [vid].

June 13. In Nagano.

June 12. Take heed. Are leaders in Japan focusing on the best interests of future retirees, or are they being led astray by inapt international comparisons and concerns about other economic policies? If you haven’t heard yet, “Authorities” in Japan are about to funnel large sums of the Government Pension Investment Fund, the Japan Post holdings and the Japan Post Insurance holdings into Japanese stocks openly and deliberately under the next phase of Abenomics.


More details here: Playing with Fire

June 11. Daily bowls of fresh biwa for a week now, about to do a big harvest. There are seven luh kwat (Chinese) trees in the garten, with three different varieties that all make lots of fruit. The taste is quite delicate, but distinctive, with a pleasant tartness:


June 10. Take note everybody, the future of the internet is here, decentralized autonomous organisation that everybody can operate but nobody controls.

At first sight this offers an exhilarating vision of self-contained outposts of freedom within a world otherwise dominated by large corruptible institutions.

Visions of a techno-leviathan: The politics of the Bitcoin blockchain

June 9. Via Kurashi, an important and remarkable read: To what level could Japan’s food self-sufficiency recover?, that says Japan’s self-sufficiency rate can recover to 75-80% with changes in production, and perchance higher still with changes in consumption, too.

Next, if it’s been a while since you read shikigami, they recently published Thinking Like a Forest (TOWARDS AN AGRICULTURAL COUNTER-REVOLUTION), and that link goes to it.

June 8. Down below (picture on far right), the small garlic on the right was grown in dead soil with oil, the big garlic on the left (6th generation) was grown in soil full of life. For the soil I 1. In between growings keep a thick layer of comfrey mulch that A. harbors insects, B. protects microbial life from the sun, C. fertilizes the soil, and D. blocks the weeds. 2. During the growing season I keep a thick layer of elm leaf mulch that does all of the same things comfrey does:


June 7. Bio-dynamo!


June 6. Fifteen years ago my wife’s grandfather grew rows of spinach here. Six years ago my wife’s mother grew clusters of herbs here. Today, the soil has transformed from bacteria (field) to fungus (forest), and many of the herbs and food-plants have naturalized. Trees stand tallest, and under them a network of trails criss-cross various guilds:


June 5.

I really enjoy social change work. It’s a engaging creative process and a world of possibility. I’m here on earth to serve humanity. There is a powerful force that keeps me doing this work. I’ve been inspired by so many wonderful change makers, Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar, Thich Naht Hanh, the Bullocks family, Yoshikazu Kawaguchi, S.N. Goenka, Kumi Naidoo, Joanna Macy, Lynne Twist, and thousands of youth who are driven by passion, hope, and a love for the world.

– Kai Sawyer (living permaculture ・ Japan)

June 4. I’ve stuck up a post at reddit: How to empower the growing class of oft-neglected temp workers in Japan , and that link goes to it.

June 3. I did this last year but didn’t document it. I’m growing dryland taro potato that grows exceptionally well at the edges of a comfrey and straw filled trench that receives duck fertilized water down a swale system from a small pond:


June 2. THIS is exactly how to transform Japan and the Satoyama from de-generative to re-generative, Permaculture and the 8 Forms of Capital {podcast}. Listen to Chris Martenson and Ethan Roland talk about inter-education and working the system form within to build resilience.

June 1. Today, three permaculture links for Japan: Forest Garden Design Lab, Soil Design and Landscipe. It feels good to know that permaculture is catching on in Japan.

May 30. The Country Living in Japan Forum is booming, and that link goes to it. Do sign up !

May 29. Chicken eggs, quail eggs, juneberry, thimbleberry, mulberry and nanking cherry. Has anyone seen the Noramoji Discovery Project? Can you imagine this concept being applied as a Satoyama Regeneration Project instead? Swap the fonts for something else and, voila !


May 24. Some happy stuff for the weekend. Here is C. W. Nicol at TEDxTokyo, Working With Woodlands, his idea and tactical approach to make Japan a more wonderful place to live.

May 23. Demographic Winter – the decline of the human family (Full Movie).

Birthrates are falling almost everywhere, there will be fewer children and more old people, and I don’t think this will be a catastrophe as the above video suggests, but a challenge, with the potential for a better world, if we can adapt to lower consumption and rebuild localized economies. This adaptation is already starting in Japan, if not yet 100% materially, at least in the minds of many.

Also, living in Japan, I’m interested in the psychological effects of a very high average age. Old people can be wiser, but they can also be more set in their ways.

May 22. A massive reddit comment thread, If you were a Japanese politician, what policies would you try to implement?, that shows many a person here thinking about workplace reform. We need a deep transformation of the wage labor system, so we work 20-40 weeks a year, instead of either 50 or zero.

Related: Black Companies, from Tofugu.

Personally, I wouldn’t try to implement any new policies for anybody except myself. And I tend to think that if everybody took this position, or something similar to it, we wouldn’t need to go the way of policy change via policy makers.

May 21. Lots of rain here over night, enough to make that sound of downpour on your roof and bring out the serenading tree frogs en-mass. Below you see a pomegranate tree flower, two baby kiwi fruits, potato plants growing under an old olive tree, and water droplets on gingko tree leaves:


May 20. Thank you Kurashi for telling me about a new movie filmed in rural Japan, Wood Job!, which has just the sort of narrative I see coming for a larger faction of Japan.

Staying on topic, 1. DUST (the movie) is coming soon, and that link goes the trailer.

Filmed in remote areas of Japan, “Dust” takes place in a world of rapid evolution. Each year new species and adaptations alter the balance of their ecosystems. Technology and deep tradition exist as symbiotic opposites dividing people who live in the countryside from those who live in walled cities. Amidst this cultural turmoil, nature offers up an unexpected challenge.

And 2. Be sure to check out Paradise, or Rakuen (楽園) in Japanese, a “pink movie” from 2005 filmed on a small island just off Kyushu [NSFW]. On the surface the movie makers are selling sex, and on a slightly deeper level they’re selling sex in an exotic location. And they’re pandering to the male audience by showing Erika losing, and men defeating women. But if you look beyond that, I think you see a window into the Japanese collective unconscious:

We’re all stranded on an island, with lots of really sexy and strong women. And If you want to roll the dice on climate change and international economic collapse, you could hardly find a better combination of medium temperatures and empty countryside with low land prices.

Here’s the plot summary:

Paradise (Bio-Tide, unrated), directed by Toru Kamei, is also in the pinku eiga genre. Erika (Shion Machida) is a beautiful but demanding anchorwoman campaigning for political office in an island district in rural Japan. Upset at falling behind schedule, she peremptorily orders Yohei (Hideo Sasaki) an amiable but passive fisherman, to hijack a motorboat to transport her back to the mainland. Instead, they run out of gas and find themselves marooned on an apparently deserted island, without means of communication or escape. The power balance shifts several times as they come to terms with their predicament, and no small amount of non-explicit, if occasionally violent, sex ensues as well. The plot is not entirely conventional, however, and incorporates several unexpected twists and turns as it leads to an ambiguous conclusion. Paradise also features outstanding cinematography which takes full advantage of the lush island setting.

May 16. Today, a little back-to-the-land romance for Japan.

Imagine a future in which millions of families still live on the grid but are highly thrifty, powering down their homes and vehicles by not turning them on as much. As industrial agriculture sputters under the strain of the spiraling costs of gasoline and fertilizer, networks of farmers and gardeners using sophisticated techniques that combine cutting-edge permaculture technologies with ancient Japanese know-how build an alternative food-distribution system.

Faced with the burden of financing the decades-long retirement of aging boomers, many of the young embrace a new underground economy, a largely untaxed archipelago of communes, co-ops, and collectives that passively resist the power of the granny (Tokyo) state while building their own little semi-intentional utopias.


May 15. I’ll do my generalizations and write about why I think nothing can change from the bottom up in Japan:


Let’s be realistic here

A. At least a third of Japanese do not fit any political category. They’re hedonists, living for work, or alcohol, or sex, or a small hobby, or if they’re rich, golfing at an actual golf course somewhere in the satoyama. When circumstances force these people to become aware of politics, I don’t know what they’re going to do, but it’s important.

B. At least another third are old, slowly shambling down the aisle of the train, huffing and puffing after decades of smoking cigarettes. When things get tough, these people will not participate in a revolution, or attempt to steal your food. They will have to be supported by friends and family, or they will crumple up and quietly die.

C. Further still, another third are a new “lost generation” of disenfranchised young adults, kept under their gray seniors in irregular jobs with little in the way of benefits and a cushy future. This lost generation – for which I will not partake in – are affable and apathetic to the whole situation.

D. When good foods become rare or unavailable and petrol gets expensive (think late 2008), people don’t go berserk – they adapt with all the stuff they already have. That’s what makes Japan different: when people are taxed more or can’t afford to buy new stuff anymore, they just pull all their old sh*t out of the closet.

May 14. Wage labor proliferator, Recruit Holdings, launches a website to gather new farmhands, and that link goes to it.

May 13. NEW from Living Permaculture in Tokyo, Future of Leadership and Change the Dream Symposium, and Taking Back Democracy.

I am A Leader of My Tribe

I have inherited a world, ravaged by tribal conflict, environmental destruction, and economic devastation. I am also the inheritor of millions of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world. While my predecessors will slowly die out, and retire gloriously, I am left to deal with that which they are leaving behind.

Ok, so what is your solution that you are living?

The words {for mass-consciousness change} are easy and clear, but the task is muddy and there is yet no indication it’s even possible. Given this, I like the idea of finding contentment, taking care of what is physically possible, #Speeding up my relationship with Nature, all the while remembering that misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. That last part comes from Hanlon’s Razor.

May 12. List of Companion Plants, and that link goes to it.

May 11. I’m doing a Whats In This Thing? post at reddit, and that link goes to it.

May 10. Asukealexander is doing some serious bee keeping in Aichi, and that link goes to it. Here, I’m merely bee keeper posing with a few antique bee hives I recently salvaged in Nagano, but I do provide the nectar and pollen. For now the Nagano land is like a Dacha, a Russian word for a place in the country that supplements a main residence in town. I can bring back all sorts of things, like bamboo, herbs and tools:


May 9. Bill Mollison’s Phases of Abundance piece (PIJ #40, June – Aug 1991), which is a great overview of the process of establishing a permaculture system.

Here’s a progression slide show of half of the forest garten here; the picture to the far left being when I first got here (winter ’08); the next picture being one year and eight months since I got here (mid-summer ’10); the next picture being two years and six months since I got here (late spring ’11); the next picture being three years and four months since I got here (early spring ’12); and the picture to the far right being five years and five months since I got here (spring ’14):


May 8. Inside the kominka in Nagano I found a really old ladder. Fashioned with hand carved timber and nails, it’s one of the sturdiest ladders I’ve ever climbed. So I brought it home and am making good use of it as a stairway into a big kiwi cluster. Below you see it. Also there are pictures of fruiting mulberry, flowering acacia (honey bees love it!) and flowering persimmon:


May 6. I’m back from the Nagano land, suddenly 3,000 feet lower now. Below I’m going through some stuff I did up there over the past five days, and a bunch of discoveries I made. And thanks to a friend I made while there, the “forest garden farm” now has a name:


Pheasant Run


Forest Garden Farm


…says the green pheasant.

Up above in the picture you can see about 1.5 acres. All of it – including the old kiwi orchard at the very bottom – is under me name, a mere foreigner. From the top on down it is terraced land with a soft slope to it, with old trees towards the top, a bamboo grove in the mid sections (long time abandoned fields), and a brook down at the bottom from where this picture was taken.

This farm is a near zero-till garden, with perennials and self-seeding annuals, fruit and nut orchards integrated with small animals.

Waterworks include an ancient well, mountain spring, brook (property border) and dam (property border):

Old trees are old (?, elm, chestnut, conifer):

Smaller spring flora:

Some fauna (rat-snake, green pheasant, black-bear dung (in lieu of black-bear) and hawk-eagle):

Everyone agrees that planting seedlings in the spring is good, so I follow that logic. On this trip I back filled 37 trees, a modest start to what will follow. On the terraces and in front of the kominka — for now there are apple, crab apple, pomegranate and pear. Gingko, persimmon, chestnut and an experimental: almond !

The 160 year old kominka:


Five minute walk from the kominka and Pheasant Run:


May 1. Gone to the Nagano land.

April 28. NEW from Naomi Klein, The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External, a thoughtful article about climate, timing and our cultural/historical processes.

And Jeremy Rifkins’s latest speech, The Near Zero Marginal Cost Society. {vid}

It isn’t just technology. We need to change the human narrative.[…] We have to move from Geopolitics to Biosphere Consciousness in one generation… or we’re not going to make it.

April 27.


April 22. Here’s a good piece arguing that investing in local activity is far better than using bitcoin, and that link goes to it.

I like the general idea, but the writer’s weakness is being unable to imagine the existence of something for which he can’t imagine the particulars. I think bitcoin and our computers can be used for further blind consumerism, but bitcoin and our computers might also serve as tools to create a new kind of physical medium through which some deeper principle of aliveness could manifest.

April 21. I’m doing an AMA at reddit. Background: I recently bought mountain land in Nagano. Below you see a satellite image taken sometime in 2013, with notation added in spring of 2014. The red line is my actual property line, the yellow line is the the total area I plan to cultivate as per it is abandoned, the blue dotted line surrounds the edge I plan to forage from, and the purple line is the kominka. In total the land area is about 10 acres, or 4 hectares. The elevation is ± 3,000 feet, or 900 meters:


April 17. Blooms of life ! Swimmers, flyers and crawlers… all over the place now. With daytime highs of over 20 degrees Celsius, life is Springing here, and below you see Cochin chicken and Coturnix quail eggs; flowering roses; a quince tree flower; woodland strawberry; dandelion seeds; salvia bush sage; yellow jasmine; and a gnarly caterpillar:


April 16. Who remembers this nuclear-neutral article from two years ago, Nuclear Danger Still Dwarfed by Coal ? Fast forward to the present, Japan is now embracing coal, and that links goes to a piece about it. A lesson to be learned here: If you are anti-anything make sure you spend as much sign-painting and organizing time being pro-something else, or the vacuum can and will be filled by an equally opportunistic evil.

April 15. The Forging of a Hunting Knife in Tosa, Japan {VID}

April 14. RIP Apocalypse, Man: World’s End According to Michael C. Ruppert, by VICE. 6 videos. 1 hour, 15 minutes.

April 13. I’ve added to my Super-Active links. Next, appealing to the probability that Earth awareness will be fundamental to subsistence in the years ahead, people in Nagano Prefecture are thinking about establishing forest-based early childhood education programs at kindergartens, and that link goes to a piece about it.

April 12. Japan approves energy plan reinstating nuclear power — Over the past three years look specifically at some of the adaptations that we should have been making but won’t, like building local perennial agriculture, slashing the military, re-localizing sensible production, shifting the “economy” as we know it, and initiating distributed sunrise energy systems. There has been a lot of talk about getting rid of nuclear power, but no real progress on what to replace it with.

April 11. permacredits – The idea is to replace centralized economic markets with decentralized markets that allow people to extract, represent, and transfer value from the resources in their world and use it as an investment in building their own future.

April 10. Today, more pictures. But first, what do you think the real reason is for the recent consumption tax increase from 5% to 8%? I think it isn’t intended to make money for the government nor go towards interest on national debt, but instead to force businesses to either lower operating costs or the amount of their contents, or both, and that link goes to one example of this.


April 8. More earthquakes ! Japex Begins Japan’s 1st Commercial Shale Oil Production

April 6. US Backs Militarization Of Japan In Response To China, which isn’t really news — Japan has been buying US military tech for over 50 years. What is news is that Japan is changing its laws so that its military industrial complex can start selling weapons to other countries. That, and these companies can start doing joint ventures with American companies. So for example, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries can start making parts for export for the F-35.

April 5. At reddit: Japanese Pension Plan — safe to ignore it and not pay the premiums?, with loads of comments defending both sides. I tend to think of the Pension scheme as superfluous for some but well needed by others, not something to squabble over or force upon someone. Anyway, more pictures below of the forest garten here:


April 4. Loose end from the previous post. I mentioned buying land in Patagonia, Chile {map}, but why? It’s a tactical decision to eventually, if need be, leave Japan for there, and it’s the exact same technique my forefathers used – Them, down from the upper reaches of the Rhine River in Germania, via Rotterdam across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania, further pushed into the old frontier regions, otherwise known as the Carolinas, and further still into Arkansas and Washington and now, me, Japan. Anyway, it’s all part of Strategic Relocation – a tactical survival technique.

Why specifically, Chile? For many reasons not least the splendid natural beauty. Acreage is cheapish, too, and that helps: 1. 8.5 acre Farm – Pasture, meadows & orchard (25K) 2. 19 acre Bay Front Farm {map} — Pasture, meadow & forest (31K) 3. 2.6 acre Farm — Pasture, orchard, creek & meadow (9.9K) 4. 1.3 acre Patagonia Foothill — Meadow, rolling hills, forest & stream (19.8K) 5. 24 acre Farm — Forest, pasture & stream (19.8K) 6. 1.2 acre Beachfront — Wooded & boat access (14K) 7. 1.2 acre Mountain Valley — Pasture, lakeside & mountain views (14K).

April 3. Unrelated links. Kai Sawyer is moving back to the Pacific Northwest, and I hope he thrives there. The back channels are still saying hyperinflation is coming to Japan – No linkage. I am interested in buying land in Patagonia, Chile. More on that later. Next, Here’s a video report that looks critically and dynamically at a localized and beneficial model: Village Hub: A Sweet Sustainable Solution. What sort of similar Hub(s) could be applied here in the Satoyama? I can think of many. Lastly, a new App in the making, Run An Empire, “is a game where players compete to capture and maintain control of as much of their local territory as possible. To capture somewhere you have to run (or jog, or walk) around it.” I can see how this could be applied to permaculture, eco-villages and Transition towns everywhere. The empirical data would allow for self-reinforcing co-movements.

April 2. Budding trees all over the place, and that link goes to today’s theme song. From Spring I’ll only be away from the house three days per week to mediate adult English conversation classes and play in English with little kids, so from now on I’ll have lots of time to take pictures of the forest garten here:


April 1. Here’s a good business idea for Japan: Fruit Salad Tree. Next, every spring when the sakura trees blossom, my kids and I re-stock the garten pond with goldfish, and you can see some pictures below. Over summer the fish will eat mosquito larvae and pupae. We also stuck in a salamander:


March 31. Here’s something I’ve always wanted to be because hardly anybody in Japan is: Arbor Japan.

March 30. Via Kurashi, Is Japan playing hunger games with climate change?, which is about local food issues and what needs to be happening with people’s reactions. A good reaction in the worst scenario could lead to ecotopia, while a bad reaction in the best could lead to catastrophic collapse.

Also, both environmental and human factors will vary greatly by region. How exactly will your local climate change? Where does your electricity come from? Where does your water come from? How far away does your food come from? How easy is it in your climate to grow gardens or fruit trees? Do you have any tradable resources? How physically healthy are the people? How mentally healthy? Will they tend to form into violent gangs or stay peaceful? How easily will they adapt to learning gardening and light manufacturing and getting around without cars? How intelligent and unselfish are your local political leaders?

March 28. The Forest Journalist reviews a new how-to manual, Satoyama Management, and that link goes to it. You can read the whole manual online here [pdf]. Here, Satoyama Installation (ecological agroforestry) continues while hens cluck amongst a splendid display of fruit tree blossoms and flowering herbage – a sound and sight to behold:


March 27. From Kurashi, some scary news for Japan that you already know about: Climate Change Conference In Yokohama Starts…

March 24. Arborist wood chips, an important ingredient for a young forest garten. You can make topsoil with it, protect the topsoil with it, mulch trails with it, suppress weeds with it, or make good habitat for stag beetles and the like. Below you see some of it incorporated into the garten here:


March 21. From WarTard: Russia v NATO: Ukraine, Crimea and the new Cold War, with important information that Crimea will be returned to Russia and, to nobody’s surprise, the West can have no say in it. Meanwhile, nature is springing:


March 20. A reader writes,

You come off as not being anti-nuclear, but why? Your other writings would suggest otherwise.

My position on nuclear power is that it’s completely safe unless something unexpected happens, and with all the economic collapses and political chaos of the coming decades, unexpected stuff is going to happen more often.

March 19. Ecological Agriculture and Sixteen Wonderful Farms that Point the Way is an overly long article with mention of every awesome horticulturist you’ve read about on the internet over the past 10 years. These are the guys to emulate, if you haven’t already started.

March 18. Abandoned homes a growing menace, with nothing you didn’t already know, except the part about the rate of uninhabited properties being expected to rise to 23.7 percent in 2028.

March 17. In the next age, I think the goal of small businesses will not be to enable investors to increase their money by doing nothing, but to enable ourselves to improve our lives by doing autonomous work. Small businesses will be of many kinds, and my own will go the way of literal and tangible green.

Here, where I live, you see some early spring green in the form of fern and bramble, and the first two flowering trees in the new year: loquat and cherry:


March 16. Yakuzanomics to replace Abenomics? See: Japan to name, shame firms that refuse to hike pay

March 14. Over the past three years look specifically at some of the adaptations that we should have been making but won’t, like building local perennial agriculture, slashing the military, re-localizing sensible production, and initiating distributed sunrise energy systems. And now: The Numbers Behind Japan’s Renewed Embrace of Nuclear

March 13. A big welcome to Country Living in Japan Forum‘s latest member, gonbechan.

March 11. RIP Tohokuites. Be well Tohokuites.

March 10. Japan Farming Co-ops Torn Between Reform, Protection. This system is locked in hard, and I don’t expect it to change until the economy (as we know it) is in ruins and different economies grow through the cracks. If you don’t know this by now, billions in farm subsidies flow freely to individuals, groups and corporations who don’t actually farm.

March 9. Farmers not waiting for politicians, describes Japanese agriculture’s present situation, and the recent past and possible future.

March 8. I’ve added Hive and Barrow [blog] to my Active links at the right. Next, while the thermometer here appears to be reluctant to respond to the increasing solar altitude, the forest garten is resplendent in new green:


March 6. I was at the pub again last night in Nagoya and some tough guy tells me the Yamaguchi-gumi is going open-source, recently having launched their own outreach website, and that link goes to it. On the surface the site is to promote the banishment of narcotics in Japan, but on a deeper level this shit is obviously turf war/power struggle related.

This goes back to one of my themes for 2014, which is a rise in Splinter Groups – a return to localized resilience in the wake of the so-called abernomics period.

March 5. From Nikkei, Japan to regulate Bitcoin trades, impose taxes.

March 3. TIL that the ancients of Japan pounded poisonous Snowbell berries to a paste and mixed it into streams to stun fish.

March 1. The future has arrived: Japan No Country for Old Farmers as 7-Eleven Takes Plow.

Also, The Zombification of Japanese Farming – Gōdo Yoshihisa.

Politicians, business leaders, farmers, and consumers are all caught up in the farming fad, which is serving as a temporary palliative. This is a microcosm of the escapism of today’s Japanese society.

February 28. DUST (the movie) is coming soon, and that link goes the trailer.

Also, if anybody missed it Shikigami’s new project is language translation, from [ insert language ] to Japanese, mainly on stuff about forest gardening, permaculture, deep ecology and gift economies. Hats off to them for this. May it be picked up on by a smart audience !

February 27. The word on the street, at least in Nagoya, is that 1. Mitsubishi Heavy is ratcheting up its operations in military weapons manufacturing and exporting, and 2. The West’s TPP is no good for Japan’s welfare state, or state of welfare.

Next, How would an army attack a castle in medieval Japan?, via reddit. Basically they didn’t storm the castle, and this goes back to how you can change the system in Japan. You don’t attack it with signboards and slogans, or even molotov cocktails, rather you build the alternative that the castle/system has to contend with, rendering the castle/system weak.

February 22. I’ve added Ten Thousand Things [blog] to my Super-Active links at the right. Next, from OurWorld comes Mental Well-being and Disability a Priority for Inclusive Development, a short piece on psychological-sustainability, which reminds me to get my own shit together. Go Upland !

February 21. “Japan’s Cultural Curtain” Vs. The Heart Of Tokyo, via Kurashi.

February 20. To all the Abernomics believers, you do realize that the money the BOJ is printing is just going to the big companies, and they’re just moving the jobs overseas ? You do realize while that looks good on the surface for the economy of today, it makes fu*k for sense if you think long term ?

February 17. The Yamato Dynasty (From the Meiji restoration to modern times), which is a great book review with insight into why a Nationalist Strategy here is always in the cards for Japan and the US !

February 16. Well worth the read, and it’s nothing you didn’t already know: The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet. The sad thing is 99% of people have no idea what any of this means and explaining what it means to them gets you nowhere. There won’t be a protest movement until it’s too late — shit, it’s already too late.

February 15. Some personal stuff. The Pension collectors have been calling again recently. I think they found out I “own” land in Nagano, and reckon that perchance I have extra money lying around for them to take. It’s snowing here so we’ve been holed up in the house, making pizza and watching the Olympics on television.

Lately I’ve been hitting up the nighttime bar scene in Nagoya city. Of course I go to drink Pints of beer, but I’m also there to get a feel for what people in the city are thinking. Peak Oil, sustainability issues, alternative monies [bitcoin], economy, etc. are practically nil in conversation there. Last weekend I stayed out past midnight, and had to walk home two hours in the snow.


February 14. If anyone missed it, here’s Kai talking in a recent interview. They discuss systemic change in Japan, sustainability, and common sense. On the topic of /Donation [in Japan], I think in place of it a business/philanthropy hybrid approach is far superior in terms of scalability and outreach. In other words, don’t take donations, give them, if at least only in the beginning. Trust me (yourself) on this.

February 13. Today, geothermal electricity. For years Japan has been selling “green” abroad and not at home, “Toshiba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Fuji Electric have a combined total of over half the world market for geothermal turbines, even though currently geothermal power accounts for a mere 0.3 percent of Japan’s total electricity production.” (via Japan Looks at Dozens of New Geothermal Power Plants)

Since the Fukushima disaster, however, the national government has introduced a feed-in tariff system to encourage investment in the geothermal sector and apparently a further 20 sites across the country are presently being assessed for the suitability for projects. There are currently 17 plants in operation providing a modest 520 megawatts, eighth place in the world in terms of geothermal electricity.

February 12. The Nagano land is really snowed in now:


February 10. Kai’s Power Shift Japan gets a good press release at, and those links go to his blog and the release. @ Campaign strategists – Go back to the golden age of organizing. I think the Shift must set up a system with a very specific demand or purpose in which everyone involved is fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding Shift [economy].

The four biggest hurdles to a Shift in Japan are that 1. the majority aren’t in a position to profit from it, 2. a Shift itself isn’t in a position to offer profit, 3. the power holders here don’t see a way to profit from it either, and 3. finding a specific demand is difficult for many reasons. *profit = monies/personal gains.

February 9. Japan’s Rural-Urban Divide, that says the countryside here isn’t really into commercial-scale renewable energy projects.

February 7. TIL that 16 nuclear power plants in Japan are applying for restarts as of February 1, 2014 (pdf). (Via Kurashi)

February 3. Trust Yourself; your intuition – Terrance Mckenna
February 2. 3 acres on Hawaii, and that link goes to it. Located in Puna, in the middle of Fern Forest. Zero CCRs, live in a tent, hunt wild boar, freedom. 30 minutes to Hilo, closer to Volcano. 15K. [ MAP ]

February 1. Here’s a great reddit comment by Erinaceous on how to change the system. You should read the whole thing but here’s a condensed excerpt:

Resistance only defines the edge of the system. It might be important to define that limit but it’s just the limit. And the social limit is a hard place to be. What defines the centre is the institutions, the permanent effective networks that are space filling and area preserving. More interesting though is that the control points in these hierarchical systems are not the centres. They are lower down. It’s the sales guy who moves between the management and branches and talks to all the people on the shop floor. It’s the minor bureaucrat who actually makes the government run. It could be the bottom up institutions that people know to go to because they are so much more effective than the government services that are constantly cut back and falling apart. The ones that make them less dependent and more capable of being fully realized people. The institutions that are working to put themselves out of job instead of trying to maintain their power. So taking the centre is not really the strategy either. It’s building the alternative that the centre has to contend with.

January 30. I’ve gone and got myself stuck into a big project. More on that later. Today, India’s forest man is about a guy who spent decades singlehandedly planting a 550 hectare forest. That’s more than two square miles.

January 22. He lives ! In Colorado… Apocalypse, Man: World’s End According to Michael C. Ruppert. [vid]

January 19. My neighbor in Nagano, Afan Woodland, is pushing domestic horse logging and sustainable silviculture via a new product: wooden chairs [vid]. That link goes to a video about it. Also check out Horse Logging Furniture.

January 18. The folks of 2chan recently launched MonaCoin, a new local cryptocurrency. Right now 1 MonaCoin is worth 3 yen. GO !

January 17. Here, we are having the mildest winter in years, and it’s great ! We don’t use as much firewood, I don’t have to shovel snow, the citrus fruit are hanging around longer in the trees, and the strawberry guava tree isn’t loosing its leaves. This might as well be Hawaii at twenty-five hundred feet:


January 16. Why was Imperial Japan so infatuated with the values and ways of the Samurai when they had been abolished as a class and had their rights stripped the Century prior? (via reddit)

January 15. ¿Habla usted español? Woodland Patchwork is going viral in Spain: Yahoo News (1), RT (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), etc. 600 e-mails in 2 days.

1. The Patch shows that a secession is possible right now, albeit in an alternative way – physically, politically, financially or otherwise.

2. The Patch is a vehicle to raise awareness about Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that presents a real chance at financial freedom from the Establishment.

3. The Patch represents a time-honored idea (micro-nation) and a timely idea (cryptocurrency), that together can stand tall on the shoulder of giants.

4. The Patch is proof-positive that we can use the current systems’ laws and by-laws as leverage against the status quo.

5. The Patch is neither protest nor disobedience, it is proactive, solvent and righteous. It is Freedom !


January 14. Cochin eggs and Kenneth Oranges: My new normal. Seven years ago somebody on the internet told me that a hassaku tree and yama-mikan tree will cross-pollinate to make a new seed within the yama-mikan, and if you plant the yama-mikan seed you’ll get a new kind of delicious Orange. Somebody also told me that Nagoya Cochin chicken eggs are superior in taste to regular chicken eggs and go for 150-200 yen per egg:


Cochin egg and Kenneth Orange

January 13. Well, you don’t say ? ADVANTAGES TURNING TO DISADVANTAGES, URBAN COMMUNITIES ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION, MOVING BEYOND DEPENDENCE ON THE GOVERNMENT, from Asahi Shimbun. Next, Winter eggs serve as a reminder of the plight of poultry farmers, with insight into what’s coming for egg prices in Japan.

January 12. Japanese Begin to Question Protections Given to Homegrown Rice, basically with more revelations about how JA helped kill the rice farmer in Japan. Do remember that this is one of the reasons TPP is knocking at our door: It understands the faults of the system here, and wants in to Capitalize.

January 11. Today I learned that:

A. In Japan if you use ceder, cypress or larch to build a house or expand a house, remodel a house on the interior or exterior, or use it to burn in your woodstove, you can receive “points” from the Forestry Agency of Japan that can be exchanged for local agricultural, forestry or fishery products, and that link above goes to a story about it.

B. Municipalities are helping corporations to farm on abandoned land.

C. Kumamoto Prefecture is accelerating integration of farmland by offering three kinds of subsidies: “(1) a subsidy for supporting village activities, granted for the negotiation process in the priority areas; (2) a subsidy for farmers engaged in establishing farmland integration plans, according to the farm area managed by each farmer; and (3) a subsidy for completion of farmland integration, granting 20,000 yen (about US$204) per 10 ares (approx. 0.25 acres) for the selling or renting of farmland with an upper limit of 4 million yen (about US$40,816), or 15,000 yen (about US$153) per 10 ares for launching a local farm management organization with an upper limit of 6 million yen (about US$61,224).

January 10. Important rant from kurashi, Bystander’s Vantage Point.

January 9. For anyone who missed it, check out the NHK video collection Satoyama Capitalism Series, or 里山資本主義シリーズ in Japanese. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos, the general theme is about how we should utilize the satoyama as a subsystem to international keynesian capitalism to avoid the shock of future energy shortages, food shortages and social upheaval.

January 8. To put things into perspective, after Fukushima we’ve got one of these people… ONE: ‘Solar girl’ sheds reliance on Tepco for spartan life on the edge of the grid. Of course there are more of these people, but how many more?

January 6. Deal with economy, China to ensure Japan can rise again, that says some nuclear reactors could come back online as early as this summer, China is making trouble, and there is to be a new type of cash handout to low-income households.

January 5. For the new year, some personal stuff. I’ve been trying to quite blogging for years, but it’s really hard, so I’ll probably continue on this year again.

2013 wrap up:

Satoyama installation continued here in my forest garten. My kids grew a lot. I enjoyed them. I applied for a forestry job in Shizuoka but wasn’t offered it. I started a small business that has yet to take off. Two times I tried to sign up for a credit card at my local gas station, once for the standard card and once for the premium, but was denied both times, probably because I have no credit rating, zero debt, and my reported salary is too low. In the summer Japan tried to force me into the pension scheme, but I narrowly escaped it. As long as I keep my outside working hours at one place below a certain number, I can continue not paying into it. I still think the pension scheme is bad for the country, but it’s good for me (see below) !

I invested in Bitcoin. The olive harvest was awesome.

Exactly two years ago I found out that, due to some strange phenomena, I could no longer partake in the highly refined poison that is alcohol, so I spent some time finding a new psychotropic substance to replace the old libation, and at the beginning of last year I found it on the big island of Hawaii. Kava !

No angst, body relaxed, happy thoughts, and vivid dreams: The fist night I slept under the influence of kava I had a dream where I was walking under multiple rainbows, along a seashore on Hawaii.

The second night I slept under the influence of kava, my dream, surprisingly, picked up almost exactly where it left off the night before, and I turned makau (landward) and walked into a jungle where I encountered a man who pointed at me and said “Go to the volcano.” Days after that I found myself waking that dream into reality, carting myself off to Shinshū to look in earnest for it. In my pursuit I discovered it in the form of 2 acres of mountain land and a Kominka, which I later purchased for a ridiculously low price.

All the money I’d saved not paying into the pension scheme (for 8 years) went towards paying for it.

Suddenly I developed a drug rash from my kava consumption, endured a week of physical pain and itchiness only then to pass a ! kidney stone ! a few weeks after that. Worst pain ever. Then, as if a spell had been broken, I could consume alcohol again and felt physically better than ever! Kava is a detoxicant after all.

My chickens and ducks and quail in the garten are still alive and fun to watch. I’m happy that all four of the chickens are hens because all of the ducks are drakes, and apart from them not laying any eggs they usually just waddle around grunting and honking.

January 4. Awesome new post from Inaka Life in Hyogo, and that link goes to it.

January 1.


NPO: Satoyama Economy Rangers Program

Forget about “saving” the old picturesque Satoyama Economy. That approach to regeneration has been mostly a failure. So roll your sleeves up, it’s time to regenerate the Satoyama Economy by reintegrating it back into our present day economy. Through reintegration we will enhance resiliency, establish a new commons, create new business models, and spawn uber-symbiosis. But no more talking about how cool it can be and how important it is, let’s do this shit already !


I read the Satoyama Initiative and poured through their video archives, but I don’t see what they’re physically doing in Japan. It’s very scientific; there are scores of meeting pictures; for years they’ve been organizing and re-organizing old knowledge; and at present they’ve got 155 member groups who they deal with directly…

This has probably been a huge initiative in Japan, yet where’s the tangible change here? At this point I want to yell out loud “The only thing that can make tangible change is a more tactical idea! And the Idea has to be all-encompassing, one that drags everyone in to meaningful change.”

The idea must call for a system of everyone fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding Satoyama Economy, something that is entirely in the interests of the people who are organizing. So how can you create this in a place like Japan where the majority aren’t in a position to profit from it yet?

Offer something great !


Take a step back and look at the great successes of the golden age of organizing. Mostly it was categories of people, formerly excluded, fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding economy. This was simple to understand, it was entirely in the interests of the people who were organizing, and it was something that more powerful people could afford to give up.

The kinds of things that we are organizing for now are not so easy: to “save” the satoyama landscape, to STOP climate change, to stop the extraction of resources on which our own comfort depends, to get a bigger share of a shrinking economy.

But look at all the tactically effective organizing to take care of our needs outside the system: spirituality, family, community supported agriculture, farmers’ markets, rainwater harvesting, backyard gardens, chicken coops an so on and so forth. Of course we still have a long way to go, but this is where the action is, not on the streets but in tribal circles doing tangible change where you are.

So the next question is how can the tribes organize the masses to regenerate the Satoyama Economy? The two biggest hurdles to this shift in Japan is that 1. the majority aren’t in a position to profit from it, and 2. the power holders here don’t see a way to profit from it either. For the answer, let’s go back to the golden age of organizing. The tribes must set up a system in which everyone else is fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding Satoyama Economy, something that is entirely in the interests of the people who are organizing. I see two tactical approaches to this: Harnessing higher education as agents for change and utilizing money(power) for them to employ in a new expanding economy.


Certainly, our students can “take us back” to chiefly a Satoyama Economy if we want them to, but most of us will have the desire and the ability to integrate what we’ve learned over the last few decades into the world to come. If our ancestors could integrate swords and surgical blades, can our students integrate hydro-electric and mountain herbs and convenience stores? How about green tea and chop sticks and hot tap water and Google? The problem, right now, is that so many of the things we like about Japan are tied to things that cannot or must not continue — consumption of non-renewable resources, extermination of the biosphere, and a million jobs that nobody would do if they weren’t forced.

To regenerate the Satoyama Economy, we must first reflect on how we are doing it at present. The Satoyama Economy is a Japanese traditional and beautiful agricultural system – a mosaic of people, mixed forests, rice paddy fields, dry rice fields, grasslands, streams, ponds, and reservoirs for irrigation. But it’s also an economy that is now on the verge of extinction, resulting in the hollowing-out of entire satoyama communities, and because the majority of small satoyama farms in Japan are fragmented with owners unwilling to sell, a patchwork of satoyama has proven difficult to consolidate by many stakeholders and beneficiaries, including local communities, both national and local government agencies, and research and academic institutions.

So far establishment has said that restoration and conservation requires collective action from all sectors and stakeholders, but, again, as seen below in UNU-IAS this approach has been mostly a failure:

According to Norimasa Toga of the Nature Conservation Division of Environment and Safety Affairs Department at the Ishikawa Prefectural Government, Ishikawa Prefectural Government has been implementing cooperative projects to sustainably mobilise and utilise the scarce resources of each stakeholder and raise awareness on common issues affecting satoyama at the prefectural level. Besides the satoyama conservation and restoration agreement, other cooperative projects in the Prefecture include the joint management of nature schools which involves administrative organisations, NPOs, educational institutions, and local business enterprises. However, problems such as the vertical administrative system found in Japan, jurisdictional competition, and conflict of interests are inherent in the efforts by numerous stakeholders with different interests and mandates. Cooperative actions require a fair and effective distribution or share of funds and benefits, and clarification and coordination of the roles among stakeholders. This is something which local and national governments need to consider by providing the framework for operation.

In other words, the decentralized approach to “saving” the Satoyama Economy doesn’t work in Japan because there’s too much baggage and, besides, although not mentioned above, there’s almost zero economic incentive for all parties involved! So what I suggest is that in the beginning, at least, it needs to be centrally run and operated with holistic economic domination ! And it needs to be approached in a way that we are regenerating through reintegration back into our present day economy, not merely “saving” something. So, dear reader, what we need is effective implementation of projects, financial resources, sufficient technology, and human resources on both the stakeholder and beneficiary sides…

But 1. What projects do we make? 2. Who is going to pay for this? 3. How can it work? and 4. Who is going to do this?


I propose the idea of a nation-wide university student led organization via an online internet platform, or social networking site, that is an NPO. This NPO can be involved in preparation, delivery, and follow-up of student led programs* (see below) that are implemented alongside community members and local technicians. Online, students can organize each other as well as collaborate with specific locations and groups they intend to engage with in the field. Students can also reach out to donors or stakeholders who are interested in the new economy.

The students can make projects at their respective campuses as well as inter-campus via the online NPO, then connect with their beneficiaries in the field to either hone or broaden program missions, and come up with ways the stakeholders and beneficiaries both can financially benefit. Eventually the campus-to-campus organization and program missions can be integrated into the university curriculum, and students can receive credit towards their degrees for participating in on-going projects in the field. The ultimate mission for all this being the implementation of sustainable Satoyama Economic Regeneration departments countrywide…

With jobs waiting for students in the field. GO !

Programs could include Agriculture, Architecture, Business, Energy, Environmental, Forestry, Restoration, Transportation, etc.

* * *

December 30. Two links. Life on the Edge and At 94, mountain man must gradually let go of his piece of paradise.

December 29. Good, cheap rural acreage here, here and here.

December 28. The New Year is almost here so lets do this:


Six Homeland Themes for 2014, Japan

1. Return Drift to the Countryside.

But not the way you think.“Gentan” farm subsidies are scheduled to be halved from April 2014 and abolished by March 31, 2019, which means many a lowland small farm is kaput, and instead of the masses shifting there to buy up cheap plots one at a time — tract homes, solar arrays and industrial agriculture will get there first.

2. Go Upland !

This is just something I’m advising myself to do. If you think the climate is changing and not in your favor, which I do for me, it’s probably best to move to a better place. Because of Climate Change, most of the people I know are already in the middle of big changes, aggressively paying debts off and buying tools or stuff that will better serve them in the future, finding a long-term landbase, planting fruit trees, making local connections…

3. Bitcoin in the News.

The big question is whether or not Japan will run with it, but at least it’ll finally be featured in the news here. I’m guessing it may get marginalized, and nobody here will ever know that it actually represents a way around the restrictive yen, and could mean huge profits for the little guy and forward thinkers. Thinking about it more optimistically, bitcoin could explode onto the scene because it’s so easy to exchange for goods, and because I invested in a few coins in mid 2013 I’ll become semi-rich.

4. Cultural Inertia and Nuclear Electric.

Very few people living in Japan want to transition from all-you-can-eat nuclear electricity to stairs and hand-held fans and woodstoves. You might think that the ongoing collapse of the oil/growth economy will take care of this, but remember the Vikings in Greenland in Jared Diamond’s Collapse? They chose to die of starvation rather than eat fish. You might think the big obstacle to ridding ourselves of Nuclear electric is politicians or corporate greed or finding the alternative, but it’s really just Cultural Inertia. I think Nuclear electric will come back online sometime in 2014 and if you decide to stay here, your best bet is to have somewhere offshore to go to in an emergency or somewhere onshore far enough and high enough as to avoid a fallout.

5. The System is Not Fragile.

Many of us would have predicted that with 1. the 2008-09 worldwide economic melee and 2. the 2011 triple-whammy of Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear disaster that destroyed the North and crippled factory lines and transportation routes and central electric, we would have experienced economic Armageddon or total collapse in Japan. But really, all it did was move us a few spaces forward in the long, slow crash that’s been going on for years. Many of us would have also thought Abernomics would have borne hyperinflation and ridiculous food prices, but really all it did was make for a spectacle in print and not much change on the ground.

6. Splinter Groups.

As lowlandic industrial Japan continues to change, I expect all kinds of movements to appear, from exploitative cults, to Jôdo Buddhism – for example, similar to the dark ages that followed the collapse of Heian Japan — to unrealistic utopian mega-plexes, to realistic urban permaculture applications, to right-wing extremists, to patient realignments of Japanese culture, all of them feeding off the energy of people who are economically vulnerable and desperate to feel like they’re part of a story. Eventually several of these movements will stabilize into dominant belief systems, and beyond that I’m not sure.


December 25. The Nagano land is snowed in:


December 24. When I was little, and like many kids before me, Christmas was special for many reasons that had very little to do with the birthday of Jesus. I loved the candle lights, candy canes and cookies, eating the savory dishes my American grandparents served on Christmas Eve, and cutting down our evergreen tree in the forest. I was raised by the laws of the natural world accompanied by my father’s prudence, and so for me Christmas was always a fairly secular experience.

As I grow older and depend more on the natural world directly around me, I realize one of the most important things for sustaining that medium is the sun, and therefore give praise and celebrate the Yuletide; the return of the sun.


May the light of the Sun shine on your family this Yule season


December 23. Decisions, decisions. Do you coop chickens up all day in a tractor or let them run wild? I’ve chosen the later which means important crops have to be protected. Below you see some of my fencing apparatus along with pictures of mikan and hassaku trees that cross-pollinated last Spring:


December 22. (permalink) So I just read the Satoyama Initiative and poured through their video archives, but I don’t see what they’re physically doing. It’s all scientific and shit; there are scores of meeting pictures; for years they’ve been organizing and re-organizing old knowledge; and at present they’ve got 155 member groups who they deal with directly… but what is everyone doing? And is any of this stuff being applied specifically to Japan, the place that lent the satoyama name?

This has probably been a HUGE initiative, yet where’s the tangible change? Give me 1,000 yen for a bus ride into town, 45 minutes away from rearing my kids, and I’ll push this country so far back into the satoyama economy it’ll make the Satoyama Initiative look like an extravagant fad. OK that was both brutal and cocky as heck, but surely someone else is thinking the same thing? And no offense to UN University, my guess is they’re just doing it the best way they know how.

Forget the 1,000 yen and 45 minutes away from my kids. Listen up. Japan can’t save Japan and you can’t save biodiversity. The only thing that can make shit change is an epic idea; some dreamy visionary stuff, like how Steve Jobs did it for Apple, or Tanaka-san for his local co-op, or Dr. Martin Luther King in the US. The Idea has to be all-encompassing, meaning it drags everyone in, not a hodge-podge of those who want meaningful change and the rest of the dummies. No, it absolutely must involve every last person, good and bad, because there will always be both.

The epic idea must call for a system of everyone fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding economy, something that is entirely in the interests of the people who are organizing. So how can you create this in a place like Japan where 1. The majority aren’t desperate or hungry enough for it yet and, 2. The power holders here can still maintain public approval via diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace?

Offer something better ! Stay tuned for my own idea.

December 21. Happy Solstice !

December 20. Lots of links stacked up. But for today I’ll link to Kai Sawyer in Tokyo. He recently launched Power Shift Japan, and that link goes to it.

Take a step back and look at the great successes of the golden age of organizing. Mostly it was categories of people, formerly excluded, fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding economy. This was simple to understand, it was entirely in the interests of the people who were organizing, and it was something that more powerful people could afford to give up.

The kinds of things that we are organizing for now are not so easy: to end a war fought by volunteers, to change climate change, to stop the extraction of resources on which our own comfort depends, to get a bigger share of a shrinking economy. This is a completely up-hill battle, especially if we are talking about changing the system from the bottom up. That’s not to say that it doesn’t feel good to call out the dragon, because it does.

But look at all the tactically effective organizing to take care of our needs outside the system: spirituality, family, community supported agriculture, farmers’ markets, rainwater harvesting, backyard gardens, chicken coops an so on and so forth. Of course we still have a long way to go, but this is where the action is, not on the Streets but in tribal circles doing tangible change where you are.

So the next question is how can the tribes organize the masses? The two biggest hurdles to power shift in Japan is that 1. the majority aren’t desperate or hungry enough for it yet, and 2. the power holders here aren’t third-world grade – they are solvent. For the answer, let’s go back to the golden age of organizing. The tribes must set up a system in which everyone else is fighting to share in the benefits of a massively wealthy expanding economy, something that is entirely in the interests of the people who are organizing. I see two tactical approaches to this: Harnessing higher education as agents for change at once! via the internet and utilizing alternative money(power) for them to employ in a new expanding economy.

December 17. Woodland Patchwork is going semi-viral. Here is a story at Wall Street Crypto,, CryptoCoins News, and CoinBits News (reddit), and Today I learned…(reddit).

December 16. New from Kurashi, Rural Vs. Urban – So How Is Our Human Brain Supposed To Deal With The Constant Onslaught.

I’ve been rewilding in peri-urban Japan for almost a decade, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that being in nature is like other needs — food, water, sleep, sex, human company: if you’re deprived of it, it seems like the most wonderful thing in the world, and you imagine you could never have too much of it. But then when you get it, it turns out there’s a short distance between not enough and too much.

In industrial Japanese society, most people have never experienced too much nature. They can’t even get time off their jobs for a two week camping trip to Nagano. The system allows no middle ground. So they sit at their office desk looking at pictures of mountains and forests, and a very small number of us save up enough money to quit our jobs and go “back to the land”, all the way to the other extreme.

Then when we crash and burn and go back to the city, or when we stick it out and get depressed or slightly insane, the onlookers say: “Look at that fool who romanticized nature and then found out what it’s really like,” or “What an annoying loser. If I were in their place, I’d be thriving.” But starving people are not romanticizing food, and just as only a few people in the world can eat 20 hamburgers without getting sick, only a few people are cut out to thrive as full-time homesteaders.

Part of the problem is that we go “back to the land” alone or in small groups, in fixed locations, when our ancestors did it in nomadic tribes. Also we’ve been raised with the wrong skills and habits, and it’s even possible that we’ve changed on a biological level in the few thousand years since we started living in permanent settlements.

But the fact remains that there is a healthy dose of nature for each of us, and our society blocks it, forcing us to either have too much or not enough. What we need is something like the Sharecar, or time-share condos, but with small farms and primitive cabins. And that’s the direction I’m trying to go with the land I recently bought in Nagano. But before it will work on a large scale, we need a deep transformation of the wage labor system, so we work 20-40 weeks a year, instead of either 50 or zero.

December 15. Abe Breaks Micro-Farms to End Japan Agriculture Slide: Economy. It’s about how the Japanese government is planning to consolidate small farms into larger farms, but doesn’t offer up much detail other than the fact that the “gentan” subsidy is scheduled to be halved from April 2014 and abolished by March 31, 2019. In the comment section, the reality of the transition at hand is revealed by Chris Harrington:

Seeing as Japanese micro farms are almost never contiguous, but rather are comprised of small plots often spread throughout a community, consolidation of small plots into larger ones becomes nearly impossible. Further, geographical limitations are also involved in that flat arable land is interspersed with wooded hills, or highly developed areas, throughout most of the country, and that is a factor in keeping farms small today.

December 14. Forestry Plan Revocation is a new short piece by the Forest Journalist. He suggests that instead of pretending post WWII industrial-scale reforestation has not been a failure, and waiting around for scores of mountain hamlets to disappear, we could scrap the current forestry plan for something new right now.

While novel in thought, unfortunately I don’t think Japan is ready. The commercial response to large forests of cryptomeria and Japanese cypress trees has been a success: Cheaper imported building materials from abroad and a sizable industry around services and products that help people deal with hay fever. These two industries, it would seem, won’t be helping with a scraping of the current forestry plan.

December 7. Today I learned that since Fukushima, oil as a percentage of Japan’s energy consumption has doubled, and consumption of LNG has almost doubled.

December 4. Japan’s solar dream shatters as projects fail, which tells us that more than four-fifths (82%) of nationwide solar projects eligible for subsidies have been scraped. A loss of the equivalent to the power of 17 nuclear reactors! What happened?

First of all, Japan’s Feed-In Tariffs Scheme {pdf} that came into effect in 2012 was actually a most regressive scheme that further trapped people and small businesses into the top-down system. When they said that utilities had to buy alternative electricity, what that actually meant was that alternative electricity was obliged to communicate with the grid, and every one had to pay extra for it. It was essentially a neo head tax. On top of that, the money would have not even been paid to the government, but to private interests that were using the government to suck the last of the money from everyone.

Next, I think many people wanted insurance against the feeling of catastrophe, and voters combined the foolishness of the left and right: they wanted the government to fix the death ship so the government gave everyone BIG impressive plans complements of Nuclear Electric Complex, but nobody was really going to pay for it. In came Abe and the BOJ as Japan’s best move to make as big a spectacle as possible.

I maintain that alt-energy still can’t work in Japan because it’s enemy #1 to centrally controlled Nuclear electric (now coal and oil), not to mention that Nuclear electric owns the grid ! I think this is why Tetsunari Iida [vid], in May of 2011, suggested that we take back the grid, and re-distribute it to less-scary energy companies. His ideas were not heeded.

Japan won’t go this way until it’s forced to, but really the best alternative energy yet is to use less energy. The present energy system is unsustainable, and in the future, instead of running everything off of electrical outlets connected to a giant centralized grid, we should have a more robust patchwork system including solar, wood, wind, and pedal power. Of course how we get there from here is the big question.

December 3. I guess everyone’s heard about Japan’s new Designated Secrets Bill. Basically it’s a law that criminalizes the solicitation of leaks concerning defense, foreign affairs, weaponry, and anti-terrorism efforts (防衛、外交、特定有害活動の防止、テロリズムの防止に関する情報). Taro Yamamoto recently said this about it: “The path that Japan is taking is the recreation of a Fascist State”. Nothing from me for now.

December 1. A new firewood cartel recently formed in Gifu, and that link goes to them. They’re actively recruiting members. Apparently all you need to join is to have a kei-truck and a chainsaw. Basically they process and distribute firewood to homes and businesses that are making a transition to wood fuels, and the reason it’s interesting to me is because the cartel is organic, and not some centrally controlled clear-cutting logging company.

November 29. For Thanksgiving, check out the NHK video collection Satoyama Capitalism Series, or 里山資本主義シリーズ in Japanese. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos, the general theme is about how we should utilize the satoyama as a subsystem to international keynesian capitalism to avoid energy shortages, food shortages and social upheaval in the future.

November 28. Japan is getting closer now to larger-scale industrial agriculture, but can it work here, and what does it mean for the future of human settlements in rural Japan?

November 27. ¡Wow!, the Iran deal is too much to fully understand, yet everyone is talking about it like they know exactly what’s going on. I think it’s an awe-inspiring diplomatic breakthrough, an epic business deal, a cataclysmic disaster, and a bunch of other stuff. I think there’s conspiracy and non-conspiracy, corruption and non-corruption, and so much going on on so many levels that you can’t pin down what the agendas — yes there are many — really are.

Of course when somebody drops the bomb *wink wink* on what’s really going on, we’ll know a little more than we thought we knew, and a little less than we didn’t.

November 25. Readership here is up, way up. So for those of you who’ve already joined, { knuckle punch }, and for anybody else who’s interested:

~ Shortlong Clan ~ is assembling inner circle immediately, because no man is a brotherhood unto himself, especially in Japan. Think of this less as a club concerned with secret handshakes and more as a group in support of living the good life. And all are welcome to join. The Clan also boasts organic Amish insurance*, in case member(s) are temporarily down and out.

2 0 1 1
~ Shortlong Clan ~

{ Insurance for personal and Clan security,
concern for the individual, and care of the Earth.}
STEP 1: Join Shortlong Clan
STEP 2: Help each other
ORDER 1: Generosity
CRUX: Self-organized future with
“Amish Insurance”* as a networked
Clan on a decentralized platform
(in Japan).

*Amish Insurance = Example 1 (of millions): If
your barn burns down, the Clan helps to
rebuild it.

November 24. China imposes airspace restrictions over Japan-controlled Senkaku islands. Is China preparing for an armed conflict? I think it’s another engineered non-combatant conflict to pit citizens against a foreign entity instead of their own government.

Stay tuned for a bunch more ignorant anti-Chinese and anti-Japan rallies and silly news broadcasts while the big players on either side stay out of the the spotlight, like me !

November 21. I’ve added Japan Homestead to my links. – “a poor Minnesota boy who found himself with a wife, three kids, two goats, a dog, two cats, house and hobby farm in Japan.

November 20. Here, four Nagoya Cochin hens live in the forest garten, and you have no idea how hard it was for me to catch the one you see below. I don’t feed them, look after them, or otherwise take care them. I simply planted a forest that is their native habitat, and they stay! I often find their eggs laying around:

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November 19. freeb writes,

That’s interesting what you say about Japan becoming fascist. You know I think you’re right. It could actually gain traction. And I think that for those living through the tough years ahead, that could actually be a good thing. I mean who wants to see the safety and well being of their own families at daily risk even if it means a better future may be on the other side. The key of course is not being caught in the middle of it all if that’s at all allowed. Suppose there’s different levels of fascism.

I mean fascist in the sense of Japan and the way Japan does it: keynesian-commie-cronyism vis-à-vis imperialism. I reckon the core tenants of it are not dictatorship and militarism, and hope it doesn’t go that way again. It seems to me that Japan has always been imperialistic by nature, in the beginning regressive, starting with village to village conquest and ending with getting nuked twice from above, and then progressive about it domestically, promoting the spread of elevated living standards via capitalism and debt.

And then so what we have at present is an overall shyness and conformity in mainstream society – which includes a mainstream acceptance of countless societal and governmental behaviors that many people privately agree as being severely dysfunctional and unwanted, yet this intrenched tradition pre-defeats most sensibilities desiring Change.

November 18. Just a friendly reminder that Tepco employees will start removing fuel rods from the damaged Reactor Unit 4, today. Apparently the work will go on until the end of next year, 2014. That link goes to EX-skf.

November 17. New smart post from The Archdruid Report, Toward a Green Future, Part Two: The Age of Unreason, that applies three modes of thinking – figuration, abstraction and reflection – to the historical trajectory of any civilization. Basically, figuration dominates early growth of civilization, then overtaken by reason and abstraction, and finally reflection where reason at some point becomes unreason, which apparently is where we stand now, including Japan.

One commenter there optimistically points out that during the Tokugawa era, the Shoguns were able to install a far-reaching ideology that encouraged limiting consumption and accumulating reserve supplies to transform the Japanese economy into something of a sustainable endeavor. To which The Archdruid replied,

Now consider the political context out of which Tokugawa Japan emerged. Before the Tokugawa bakufu rose to power, Japan was ravaged by centuries of civil war; that’s why the elites and the common people alike accepted the military dictatorship of the bakufu — it was the only viable alternative to chaos. Could such laws be passed and enforced in the US or Europe today, without the preceding centuries of chaos?

This is very intriguing to me. While I think the validity of the Archdruid’s point is sound for the West, their next step currenetly a slow slide into clusterfuck, Japan’s fate could go a different way, despite being at the tail-end of the age of unreason. To a degree Japan is still in Tokugawa-mode, for years importing most of the Earth’s finite resources while letting things here mature: forests, infrastructure, debt (money flow), propaganda, etcetera, and even in the political arena where a retired prime minister who still wields considerable power and influence behind the scenes is called a yami shogun, or “shadow shogun”.

So what does it all mean? I think Japan is, instead of breaking down, going fascist, and the majority here will be OK with that, and the system will never crash, just become more or less harsh for a certain portion of the population. And as the whole world is plunging into eco-catastrophe, Japan will do more stuff here for survival here, and the economy will shift gears into something we can’t imagine yet.

November 16. An older article from the BBC: Pigeon transfers data faster than the internet. It’s supposed to show how slow the South African internet is, but I’m thinking it would be a good way to transfer data in a possible future here in Japan where we still have computers but can’t use the internet, either because the infrastructure has been destroyed, or because it’s too tightly controlled by some new authority we can’t imagine yet. This raises other questions: What data, exactly, would we be sending? And what would it enable us to do that we couldn’t do with telephones or the mail?

November 15.

If you organize your own system of doing things, I believe you will be surprised to find out how much you can accomplish.

From Alex Kerr in his latest interview, and that link goes to it.

November 14. Japanese Prime Minister Ab* and President Oba*a want Japan to be able to wage war. Don’t read it — the only important information is that a bunch of stuff you already know is now being revealed to readers on the internet in English. Is it being revealed in Japanese too, and are the Japanese paying attention?

November 13.

* * *

November 12. About 1 acre of the Nagano land is contiguous, the remainder is spread out in small patches 100 to 500 tsubo respectively. Below are shots of some of those plots in their environs. Some of it is grown over in brush and trees, and some of it is relatively free from overgrowth:

* * *

November 11. Night time lows up at the Nagano land are almost freezing, with the nearby alps already covered in snow. Hard to make out what I did in the pictures, but basically I cleared land for 8 hours in preparation for apple orchard planting next spring. I’d say felling a bamboo grove is one of the most dangerous jobs there is – one trip and fall and you’re skewered kebab for the bears !

The next line of pictures shows the forest behind the house; the inside of the doma; one very old tree just out from the back porch (size 12 boot for scale); and the front of the house:

* * *

November 8-10. Gone to the Nagano land.

November 7. How Kenichi Ohmae Would Fix Japan — A good take-back-Japan approach through deregulation and decentralization. But who will be the first to give up their power(s), that is the question.

November 6. Update: Nuclear Fuel Rod Removal Delayed 1 to 2 Weeks (via ex-skf)

November 5. Just a reminder that Tepco employees will start removing fuel rods from the damaged Reactor Unit 4 this Friday, November 8, and that link goes to comprehensive dialogue about it.

November 4. We could either dramatically improve the quality of life for billions, or not, and if you haven’t seen the Four Horsemen video yet, that link goes to it. Here, I try my hand at making quality of life via a forest garten:

* * *

November 1. OurWorld 2.o recently revamped their website, and that link goes to it. Also, if nobody’s seen this yet: Farm Hack, with good ideas.

October 31. Happy Halloween. Evil spirits GO away !

October 30. Harvested a part of my Taro crop today, and below you see it. People say wait for the leaves to turn yellow before harvesting it, but actually what they’re waiting for is a bigger size. When I went to Hawaii in February they told me there that you harvest when you’re hungry:

* * *

October 28. A reader writes,

Would you ever have a community on your land in Nagano?

To build a community that produces most of its own food, tools, and energy, and is large enough to meet the social needs of the members, is a massive project far beyond my resources and acreage. Having said that, my land is located in the midst of a wider hamlet with more than enough resources – in both natural abundance and man-made infrastructure – to sustain a community. The current trend says that in 10-15 years time I’ll be one of the few human inhabitants left, so theoretically there will be room up there for more than 100 people (30 households).


Retrofitting a Hamlet-Mountain, or Satoyama, in Ogawa, Nagano

* * *

Who hasn’t thought about retrofitting a mountain hamlet with a group of like-minded individuals? There are a lot of people that are tired of living in these massive, hyper-urban environments that meet our basic needs of food, shelter, and water, but do a terrible job meeting our need for self realization, community, peace and quiet, and debt-free living. Japan is full of small dying hamlets that are loaded with perfectly good infrastructure and cheap homes on old agriculture lots. While the social structures are fading, they have small commercial centers, water systems, and are surrounded by forest reserves. They are walkable, bikeable, quiet and usually human scaled.

If this idea intrigues you, stayed tuned for more to come from me. In the meantime: Satoyama: The Ideal and the Real, from Kyoto Journal.

October 27. New from the New York Times, To Expand Offshore Power, Japan Builds Floating Windmills. Make it one of aber’s re-forms, a third arrow at last! BOJ, print piles of money for it!

Turn off the nukes, use the last of the cheap oil to build these. There’s certainly enough parts in scrap here to maintain them for a very long time.

October 26. I added Permaculture Awa – Chiba to my links.

October 25. Today I learned what the Fujiwhara effect is. (via kurashi)

October 24. Harvest season continues here – Annuals and perennials are picked, dug up or otherwise gotten. Below you see early persimmons, ripe on the tree; Pineapple guava, or feijoa; Quince, ripe on the tree; and unripe hassaku, a citrus fruit ready to eat in December:

* * *

October 22. A reader writes,

Won’t you be snowed in four months of the year up there in Nagano? Doesn’t sound very conducive to food production and permaculture.

Actually the harsh winters of upland Japan were, in part, precisely what used to hold culture in place, while the lowlands were ravaged by flood waters, tsunami and mosquito. It was only until people figured out how to block, kill or channel stuff in the lowlands that they could move down from the mountains.

As lowlandic industrial Japan continues to decline, I expect all kinds of movements to appear, from exploitative cults, to Jôdo Buddhism – for example, similar to the dark ages that followed the collapse of Heian Japan, to unrealistic utopian mega-plexes, to patient realignments of Japanese culture, all of them feeding off the energy of people who are economically vulnerable and desperate to feel like they’re part of a story. Eventually several of these movements will stabilize into dominant belief systems, and beyond that I’m not sure.

I think the best strategy is to stay out of the way of these lowlandic systems, and try to organize or gather with adaptable people on the mountaintops to figure out how to make the best use of the existing infrastructure there. Three years ago I wrote about it, and I call it:

* * *

October 21. I wrote up a FAQ page for my land in Nagano, and that link goes to it.

October 20. Here are some pictures of Spanish olives, or Manzanilla olives. I backfilled this tree four years ago, and today it’s laden. Manzanilla are ideal for table olives, and is mostly used for stuffing, often with garlic or pimento paste:

* * *

October 17. I used to be a “rice is rice” guy, but now after being around it for almost a decade, I’ve figured out that the rice grown down in the lowlands is the worst, and the rice grown up in the mountains is the best. Below you see me and my brother in-law, 2000 tsubo, and 1 medium-sized combine on a cloudless morning in the wake of a typhoon:

* * *

October 15. Last weekend I went to something called the Moot, and if you’ve never heard of it before, now you have. Below you see some more pictures from the kominka I recently bought in Nagano, along with snapshots from the hamlet:

* * *

October 12. Today I bought land in Nagano for 1,000,000 yen (cash).

It’s 2,690 tsubo, or 8,895㎡, or 95,832 sq ft, or .90 hectare, or 89 are, or 2.2 acres, south-facing, at the top of the watershed, well insulated, comprised of forest, field and tambo, and on it stands a 150 year old (fixer-upper) kominka. The first line of pictures are of the house and sheds, the second line is of parts of the land, and the last line is of a short walk down the road:

* * *

October 9. Next month in November, Tepco employees plan to remove a bunch of fuel rods from the damaged Reactor Unit 4. The blogosphere is abuzz on this — From big watch-dog groups to individuals. One idea is that if something goes wrong and there’s a violent nuclear chain-reaction event within Unit 4, lots of radiation could go airborne.

October 8. Some links about wildness. From Jared Diamond, Best Practices for Raising Kids? Look to Hunter-Gatherers. There are three sections: hold them, share them, and let them run free. This reminds me of this article, How children lost the right to roam in four generations.

October 7. I recently had a dream where I encountered a man who pointed at me and said “Go to the volcano.” Days after that I found myself waking that dream into reality, carting myself off to Shinshu to look in earnest for it. In my pursuit I discovered a bear’s den, and now old-world doors are sliding open:

* * *

October 6. One of the olive trees here is 15 years old, and it’s so big and tall now that you don’t know how much fruit there is until you get up in the tree. This year it’s laden. I pickle the olives like this guy does, using an egg – which is called the salty egg method. A fresh egg will float in a 10% salt/water solution:

* * *

October 5. Kitchengardenjapan recently wrote a good one on Marking time in the Countryside, and that link goes to it. Here, one of those markers is my Oktoberal empire of gingko nuts – a lush canopy of fruits, so thick both above and at foot that you nearly choke on the putrid fragrance:

* * *

October 4. I really need to stop myself from talking about Japanese politics and economy. The entire spectacle has passed from reality into myth: that is, it is no longer an indicator of how well off we are, but a symbol of how well off we are, exactly the same way Abe is not a strong leader but a symbol of a strong leader.


The entire spectacle has passed from reality into myth

So I’m going to go out on a limb and say the system will never crash, just become more or less harsh for a certain portion of the population. More precisely, the Japanese government will never be seen to take a big fall. They won’t let it! Because “they” we understand the propaganda value of the State, they we will find a way to keep it rising forever, or until no one cares. One way they’ll we’ll do it is by companies buying back their stocks, which the neo-zaibatsu are already doing, thus raising the price by reducing supply. Another way is through inflation, which the Bank of Japan has been working on for years by printing mountains of new money.

October 3.Three years ago Forest Journalist wrote a good research article called Early logging: Gods and Horses, that said sliding out timber down the mountain is so much cheaper and more adaptable that it makes the use of skidders and mountain roads look like an extravagant fad.

Forest Journalist is back, this time with Horse Logging as Alternative Forestry, and that link goes to it. Basically horse logging in Japan as a means of timber harvesting is environmentally friendly, low carbon, can be done where the roads don’t go, and much more. Unbeknown to many, Hokkaido and the Tohoku region have a long history of horse logging.

October 2. Living Permaculture recently stuck up a long list of permaculture places around Japan, and in addition to that I want to add Permaculture Azumino in Nagano, and that link goes to it. Do watch the twenty-seven minute video.

October 1. This morning a neighbor pointed out that in the garten there live 6 quail, 5 ducks and 4 chickens, in perfect descending order. It had never even occurred to me! To go further with his maths, there are 3 resident turtle dove, 2 goldfish and 1 weasel. Below you see a ginger bed doing rather well under trees; Nagoya cochin; Pot marry gold; And aigamo and pekin ducks:

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September 29. Here, 11°C is now the difference between day time highs and nighttime lows, and that means Fall. It also means chestnuts, ginkgo nuts and olives, among others. Below you see pekin and aigamo ducks, together with nagoya cochin chickens; A chestnut emerging from its shell; A part of an olive tree, laden; And a picture of the garten canopy:

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September 27. I recently made a low-ball offer on a 150 year old kominka on 2 acres of land in deep Nagano, and it was accepted! The door remains closed for now, but I aim to open it in mid-October:

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September 26. A few loose ends from the last post. I think the deeper issue is how busy-ness is sustained, or harnessed, and by whom and for what end. Is it done by central power, or an innocent clusterfuck of people merely going through the motions? I propose the idea of both. And while I used to think dropping out was my only option, I soon realized that being partially in both worlds, with one foot in either spectrum, gave me the greatest room for expansion into a third realm and my secondary consciousness.


How to Change the World


without going into depression or getting thrown in the slammer

Robin Hood and others have argued that you are morally justified in stealing from rich people and corporations because they’ve already set up the whole system to steal from you. However, while the idea of this justification has always been highly revered, the physical action is mostly left for the few bad asses who can get away with it. For everyone else, there’re the children’s books or the worldwide gulag.

Personally I would not recommend shoplifting, because they are really good at catching you; Signing up for a point-card at your local grocers, because they will sell or trade your private information; Applying for and using a credit card, because they are good at ripping you off; Attending a for-profit University, because they will push you into debt; Working at a ‘full-time’ job, because it takes up too much time; Protesting in the streets with a sign, because they are really good at dispersing and then arresting you; Telling the truth when a lie will suffice, because everyday you are asked to be truthful about things that are really nobodies business but your own.

I like the idea of finding contentment, expending less effort at your job, taking care of what is physically possible, using the system you don’t like to kill back said system, all the while remembering that misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. That last part comes from Hanlon’s Razor.

September 25. Excellent new speech from Kai on TedX(todai) [vid], where he draws lines from two worlds to show us that our need to stay busy is because we have neither money nor time, and explains that practicing mindfulness and feeling alive might make one (you) feel better and perchance – I think this is the underlying message – Change the World.

Personally I think humans are intrinsically busy like every other creature in nature tends to seem to be, and so meditation and extreme mindfulness are reserved for Zen masters and TedX conferences, or the occasional one-off teacher-student session. I think normal people use technology and go to work to give themselves more options in the world that they know, and to them it seems like they’re making a better world by being a part of it, and actually what makes them feel alive is necessity, not slowing down.

September 15. I don’t expect to have more than a few minutes of blog time again for a good while. Right now I’m in the middle of 1. Purchasing 2 acres of land in Upland Nagano and 2. Starting an internet-based business that will create mostly passive income, so I can retire from my teaching gig and move part-time to the aforementioned Nagano property. Also, if Kurashi is reading this I haven’t forgot your butterfly bush and you can expect it in the mail sometime in the future.

Lastly, I’m no longer allowed to leave comments at kitchengardenjapan, but that guy bought cool property and I’m really happy for him and his.

September 8. I’ve been searching for cheap kominka for years, but it’s really hard. You have to drive all over the place looking around, and oft-times the cheap ones are bedraggled beyond repair. But recently I found this place on 2 acres in Upland Nagano.

August 22. It’s Goya season! The name Goya comes from the indigenous language of Okinawa, I think in English it is Bitter Gourd. Goya is bitter but surprisingly delicious, and it is anticancer, antiviral, and cardioprotective, plus a bunch of other beneficial stuff:

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August 21. If nobody noticed, Shikigami recently revamped their homepage, and that link goes to it.

August 18. Standing at 3067 metres, Mount Ontake is one of Japan’s seven sacred mountains and, as such, basically off limits to campers or squatters, but mid-way up at fifteen hundred meters above sea level, there’s one campground nestled in a birch grove. From a parking lot you can either carry your gear or pack it on a rear-car to the camp-site:

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August 15. The cute odd-eyed kitten we took in a month ago, William White, was struck by an automobile yesterday, killing him. R.I.P. Willy.

August 12. I think I’m going to stop talking about Japanese politics because Japan has no good choices left, only less bad ones. I think it’s reasonable to believe looking at this situation that we have failed, and the momentum for catastrophe is enormous. It’s tragic. The institutional supportive foolishness is too great! Related: Terence Mckenna denounces Relativism [vid]

August 8. As far as I know I’m the only person in Japan who is partaking in psychotropic chief powder, a powder that comes from a certain root of a certain plant, and the batch you see below is from the big island of Hawaii. Aloha!

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August 6. Some music. As everyone knows by now I’m deep into the Hawaiian Islands, specifically the big one, and I went there in January to find land. I was recently introduced to the music of Nahko, a medicinal troubadour who lives on Hawaii part time. Here’s a link to New Eyes, and from there you can also find his other stuff.

August 5. New from Ted, I’m in Your Debt, where he talks about personally not being able to get a credit card, and draws lines to the instant gratification culture of the US, and that link goes to it.

I’ve never had a credit card and so apparently there have been all sorts of things I can’t do. For example, 1. buy something I don’t actually have the money for, or 2. unknowingly line the pockets of some other guy(s). I’m OK with that. I’m OK because I give myself credit when and where it’s due, and that’s enough for me.

Connected to this, I also don’t have a keitai, or mobile phone. And I don’t mean that in a smug sort of way, it’s just I don’t actually need it. I have a land line, which gives me access to the internet; my business outside of home doesn’t require me to be logged in when I’m walking somewhere in between the telephone poles; and in local emergencies I use the public phone – the public phone!

August 4. Gasoline prices are on the rise again and wheat costs in Japan recently climbed for the third time, but food inflation here usually goes under-reported and unnoticed — Smaller quantities in nicer packaging works pretty well. That or everything is sold with a halo of luxury around it.

So where is this going?

I think the “inflation” we’re seeing is surface stuff caused by the weaker yen, and just goes to show how dependent Japan is on imports (net trade deficit). Inflation isn’t happening the way the BoJ wants it to happen, which is households actually getting out and spending Japan into a faster economy.

The bulk of the population is older and approaching retirement. Since social security kicks in at just 60, you see retirements and a big drop of income early on.

As more and more of the population switches to pension income, mean incomes fall, and more people become oriented toward saving. The young don’t pick up the slack, because 1. there are so few of them relatively, and 2. a much higher proportion of them are stuck in irregular work that pays less. All that leads to people being drawn to who can offer the lowest price on goods if they even buy at all, which triggers deflation.

August 2. Instead of camping camping, sometimes we just settle for here camping:

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July 30. The late, great Terence McKenna in 1994 in Hawai’i – Language About The Unspeakable (Listen from 26:40 to 35:53 #capitalism ).

July 29. Here’s a link to three possible futures of my neighborhood, or yours… the bottom panel is the permaculture one. I should mention that this link is to a famous R. Crumb drawing, which are a sequel to Crumb’s Short History of America.

Back to local politics, I reworded Abe’s recent campaign slogan to “日本を取り戻す,アメリカが“, or “America takes back Japan” to fit with what might really be happening here: Constitutional reform, TPP and cusumption tax hike reflect the wants of the US, and that link goes to a piece about it.

Related: Back in the 50’s and 60’s apparently the C.I.A. spent millions to support the Japanese Right. The gist of it is that when undesired power is afoot in this region, the Americans make moves via Japan.

July 28. For years the Japanese timber trade has had an impact on the environment and indigenous people of Malaysia, especially in Sarawak [pictures], one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. All the while, stands of conifer trees have been left to grow here on Japan.

If anyone’s interested in the local results of Japan’s post-war forestry policies, the Forest Journalist is a great resource, and that link goes to it. I’ve been reading it for years, and the author now writes books and publishes his writings at various media outlets. In his latest, ゼロ・エミッションの林業~老林業家の嘆き, he talks about what we’ve got at present, what it means, and where maybe we should go from here.

July 27. This time last year I brought home two walnut tree seedlings from the Yatsugatake Mountains in upland Nagano, near Lake Shirakaba, and below you one see one of them at present. Next you see Nagoya Cochin chickens foraging under trees and squash. They’re out all day now, and they go back to their coop at dusk by themselves. Next you see big, no, GIGANTIC taro potato plants (1 year old for scale). Lastly, here you see bitter gourd a-climbing on a fir tree:

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July 26. In a loose end from yesterday and the day before, it occurs to me that people here in Japan have invested years of their attention and belief into goals of conventional social status and material wealth and perpetual increase and control over their environment, and if they abandon those goals, it means they’ve wasted their lives.

Same goes for the leadership here.

Do you know why Japanese (on the whole) are not going to stop nuclear electric, or blockade TPP, or even put effective pressure on those trying to scrap Article 9? Because they’re too busy at their jobs! And they’re terrified of losing their jobs because then they would quickly go tens of millions of yen in debt to the system. That’s why I think the point of disengaging from the system is not to avoid guilt but to get free, to shift your time and attention and energy away from forced labor and toward activities that you find personally enjoyable and meaningful.

Of course, as the depression deepens, millions of people will lose their jobs and involuntarily get lots of free time. That’s why it’s important, for those of us who have a head start, to set an example of how to use free time constructively: to grow a new society, through the cracks of the old, that preserves human autonomy and restores the land.

July 25. Here’s Kurashi with a good metaphor for the election results, and that link goes to it, and via the same post we’re led to Temple Valley Times, who noticed that major newspaper Asahi mislead readers by using a picture of Yohei Miyake’s political rally at Shibuya Station in central Tokyo in direct conjunction with ink and profile pictures from only other political party members.

This is called framing corruption, and most everyone is involved. You take on the world-view and the values of whatever people are around you. Japan Incorporated is especially vulnerable to this. It seems like a virtue that Japan is a consensus-builder and not an ideologue, but Japan is a consensus-builder to the point of being morally empty. To prevent this in the future, we need to look for leaders who have set an example of being surrounded by the rich and powerful, and turning against them! Miyake – a Waseda University graduate, ✓. And Yamamoto, an ex-member of Japan’s lucrative entertainment industry, ✓.

July 23. Continuing on yesterday’s political subject, I think our citizenry (or “consumers”) are in a steady-state struggle with morality, and what we see at the top of the political chain reflects this. The old monotheistic agrarian-age religions that commanded obedience to unseen authorities, has, over the years, transformed into a cult of blind consumerism that continues to bow down to unseen authorities. Of course, this moral system doesn’t create utopia, but a tolerable world of warring nations slowly conquering nature.

Japan is going fascist and the whole world is plunging into eco-catastrophe. But if we’re capable of moral evolution, that’s good news, and it means that if we don’t go extinct, we may someday get it right.

Until a large fraction of the populace is either 1.) turned off of blind consumerism – by force, folly, or foresight – or 2.) rendered unable to practice blind consumerism – by change, chance, or challenge – the sort of citizenry needed for relevant change will remain to be seen.

July 22. Yohei Miyake is making new waves, and that link goes to what Living Permaculture wrote about him, and Taro Yamamoto says it well in his latest anti-establishment rebuke, “We’re just being used; too tired to think for ourselves or shut up if we speak up – that’s basically what we’ve become” [ vid @ 25:30 mark ]. He goes on to call out the top-down systemic inertia that is.

July 20. For the weekend, some stuff on


Japanese “forest economy” as components of social systems and ecosystems

1. Good research article on Forest Journalist: Early logging: Gods and Horses. Basically, sliding out timber down the mountain is so much cheaper and more adaptable that it makes the use of skidders and mountain roads look like an extravagant fad.

2. Forest Journalist spots an article from Asahi News Web Ronza, “林業で食っていける日本にしよう。“ , or a rough translation into English, “Woodlands and us for a Future Japan.” The big idea is that 70% of Japan is Woodland, and at present a waste of space as merely a timber-for-industry sink, so we ought go there to live and grow food instead.

3. Further related, in 2010 one of Japan’s leading trend gurus, Yoshida Narahiko, put an article online about the importance Forestry will have in a future Japan. That link goes to it. The best I can summarize it is that Forestry is something that the Japanese have got going for them, in terms of sustainable independent energy and home-parts, jobs, and a bunch of other cultural related stuff.

4. Next, Clear-cut or Thinning? Forest Journalist suggests that forest farmers in upland Japan are using tree thinning subsidies to instead “clear-cut”, with pictures that may show it. He postulates that old-timers are doing this to make a quick buck and get out of forest farming for good.

5. From 2012, Golf Course Closures, Japan. Atsuto Tanaka talks about forty-two forestland golf courses that have either partially closed or gone out of business in the last five years and, more specifically, what to do with them. Apparently there’s some 4,200 abandoned hectares to think about, and some ideas include forest education centers, therapy facilities and solar parks. Related: 2015年問題・閉鎖ゴルフ場の行く末

July 18. Hot! The Art of Survival, Taoism and the Warring States. The basic point is something everybody knows: that making a fortified compound in the sticks is a bad way to survive, and making connections with your neighbors is a good way. But there are new details here. First is an explanation of how poor people who have lived in isolated areas for years will beat well-stocked newcomers in any conflict. And it also mentions something I didn’t know about the history of Taoism. We might imagine that it’s an abstract philosophy developed by monks who spent years living in temples and gazing at flowers, when really it’s a practical philosophy developed and tested during a time of great turmoil and warfare.

July 15. Below you see a black-spotted pond frog; Tiger lily, a blue-tailed Skink on my arm; a sea foam green-winged butterfly; a Pekin duckling at my feet; two nagoya cochin chickens in a ginger-root bed; young chestnuts; a little person:

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July 14. (permalink) Here’s a good metaphor for the Japanese-Agriculture Vs. TPP issue: Farmer digs fire line with his tractor to try to divert the fire [vid]. Look at 1.what is coming, 2. who’s trying to stop it and with what tools, and 3. what he is protecting.

We can’t run a farm or buy houses or go to college without bank loans; we can’t drive or till the fields without oil companies; we can’t eat without other, more-of-the-same industrial agribusinesses; we can’t see at night or mass produce without nuclear electric. The whole reason we’re protesting TPP is that we can’t get what we need without going through corrupt systems; but until we have other ways of getting what we need, we have no leverage to do anything but – to continue the metaphor – draw temporary lines in the sand.

Which leads to the next question: What then must we do? Gar Alperovitz, writer and political economist at University of Maryland and co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative, recently wrote a book about this very issue, and here he is at talking about it with OurWorld2.0: A new society from the bottom up.

Basically he says that protesting can’t only be one-off responses for change. A one-off response, take #Occupy wall street for example, is just a hand-painted sign on the ground that says “Things are slightly shittier than they were before.” It is simply too defensive in nature, with neither tact; nor tactic. Protesting the system ought to be more goal-oriented, and done on the ground in infinitude. He also talks about this coming about from the bottom up, but I differ in opinion on this approach, as if you’ve ever been at the bottom before (in the real world), you’re liable to be crushed, if not by your neighbors, then foreign invaders.


An Inside Job

If you’re a mid-sized tree in a developing forest that’s canopy will soon smoother your light from above, do you go back to a seedling and start over, or do you #speed up with what you’ve already got in height, girth and wisdom? I tend to think that in protest we I should build alternate systems on an open plain at all levels, and all the time. Tactically, I think you I should be working from the inside out using the very system you I don’t like to render said system obsolete.

July 13. Here you see a couple of June beetles on almond tree leaves; a yellow dragon; juvenile Cochin chickens on the turf; and black berries, which were produced by a plant that I fed comfrey tea [hand for scale]:

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July 12. I won’t say anything about the unethical spying paradigm other than this: Who remembers the long piece from last year by Cory Doctorow, The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing? Basically, as the world gets more computerized, there will be more opportunity for chaos, and worse, more opportunity for domination, especially where the owner of a technology is different from the user: “The poorer and younger you are, the more likely you are to be a tenant farmer in some feudal lord’s computational lands.”

July 11. Below you see some annuals that grew – with zero input from me (except for the sowing) – on the edges of a perennial forest garten; my first ripe fig of the season; a young praying mantis on an acer palmatum (J-maple) branch; and a “bearded bee!?”:

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July 10. The recent 777 airplane crash at San Francisco reminded of John Robb’s 2011 post about the “power curve”. Here’s a great explanation by Simon Funk, Behind the Power Curve. Basically, in the physics of flight, if you’re above a certain speed, then the more power you apply, the faster you go. But if you drop below that speed, then you’re burning more power as you go slower, just to maintain altitude. The only way to get off the “back” of the power curve, and back to the “front”, is to lose altitude.

This is a good metaphor for all kinds of things. Funk mentions financial debt, where you spend more and more money on interest, and software companies that get behind schedule and try and fail to spend their way out of it, and personal goals where “the act of looking itself is a cost”, and you need to give up and focus instead on personal improvement.

Clearly it also applies to the Japanese neo-zaibatsu/government-directed capitalism economy, which is spending more and more money trying to maintain an outrageous standard of living. Losing altitude means canceling a bunch of debt and reducing the wants-based economy to one more in line with the landbase, and if we don’t do it voluntarily, we’ll stall and crash.

Alas – as I’ve learned over the years here – I don’t think we’ll come down like a house of cards. There is already economic collapse for the marginalized, and we may get total change in transportation and agriculture (hopefully for the better), but I think the big systems will keep muddling along for a very long time.

July 9. Ted Taylor’s piece, Even in “Just Enough,” there is Abundance , can now be read at Kyoto Journal, and that link goes to it.

July 8. An End to Eight Years of The Oil Drum, as the TOD peak oil community shuts down. Meanwhile BIG Oil marches forward like a beast of war, unrelenting. As the developing world demands more oil, and the developed, less, the oil cartels are able to keep a drum of oil at 100 {petrol US}, and maintain decent profit margins.

Since oil production peaked in early 2006, a lot of the conversation has shifted from just expensive oil and goods to Export Land Theory, which basically says that oil exports will decline at a far faster rate than the decline in oil production alone. This is a very important theory to understand, especially if you live in Japan. 20-10 years for worldwide zero net export are the latest numbers from Jeffrey Brown, the very same guy who wrote the Export Land Model.

Here he is talking to James Howard Kunstler about it [podcast]. Kunstler and Brown calculate that world financial assets are miss-priced, and oil importing nations, including Japan, are basically borrowing from central bankers to keep their wants-based economies going, even as it’s no longer feasible or possible to do so (41:05).

July 7. What is the most wisdom you can fit into one sentence? How about this: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” – Greek Proverb. This reminds me of the new video Geoff Lawton stuck up on the internet, Zaytuna Farm Video Tour Part II, that shows layers and layers of succession and permanence.

July 6. I’ve always wanted to longboard the length of Japan just for fun, but this guy is going to do it to raise money for kids who were displaced by the 2011 tsunami in Tohoku. Good of him! Next, Willy White, the kitten we took in two weeks ago, now lives in the garten with the dragonflies, yellow jackets and butterflies, among others:

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July 5. New from Kurashi, How To Stop A Road That Will Destroy Your Local Park? Here’s the park in question, 35.721922,139.464718 [map], which is roughly one hectare of woodland. Good ideas should be shot over to Kurashi, or else.

My own idea is two-pronged:

A. Instead of just one or two groups resisting the development piecemeal, somebody needs to establish a Foundation that collaborates various peoples in their respective fields (denizens, lawyers, activists, local school faculty members and students, and eventually the politicians) all of whom can hack at the root of the problem from different angles. See Concrete Dragons: How to Slay a Freeway. Also see Satoyama Economy Rangers Program: How to re-establish the old Satoyama Economy in Japan.

B. If A. fails outright, there has to be enough people of said Foundation who will physically block the development for as long as it takes to stop it.

July 4. The human eye up close looks like a spooky forest [img], via Reddit. Next, Cuba’s DIY Inventions from 30 Years of Isolation [vid].

July 3. One of the realities of not using pesticides in a forest garden is the occasional run-in with moth caterpillars; I don’t know if this will work or not because I’ve never done it before, but I think it should. The quail here are laying fertile eggs and instead of eating them I’m going to watch the birds hatch them. If anyone is interested in quail chicks let me know; The blackberries are almost ready!; This trail is looking full on tropical with taro potatoes in the ground and acacia, heartnut and cinnamon up top:

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July 1. Japan’s War in Colour (1.5 hour video documentary) “The key to success lies in our faith in victory.“, said one high-ranking Japanese guy. Just after that, in response to Japanese expansionism the US government capped off strained trade relations with a total embargo against Japan by halting oil exports and freezing Japanese assets in American banks. The rest is history.

June 29. Today I learned that 10% of all residences in Japan are empty — that’s 7.5 million of them [vid]. Anyway, here the cardoons are in bloom; a tree frog croaks on a Kiwi leaf; young aigamo and pekin ducklings swim; and pond frogs congregate:

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June 25. New 20 minute podcast of Chris Martenson interviewing Ron Paul on a multitude of issues that are very pertinent just now. I think lots of the things Paul says could just as easily be said about Japan.

June 24. Happy Solstice! Over night a neighborhood kitten was either separated from or abandoned by its mother, so I cleaned it up and am feeding it now. Two weeks old, maybe three. I think he’ll like it here if he stays. You also see below my empire of garlic. On the left in my hand is wild, up top is Purple Bombastic Garlic, and on the right is elephant:

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June 22. When I first arrived in Japan in 2004 I thought this place was going to fall apart. Then 2008 and 2011 came around and I realized that the system here is resilient in its own way and, all things considered, could potentially continue on for a good while with internal debt for cheap imports; an upper class that holds the few important jobs that still require humans; a middle class that are hobbyists, practicing difficult skills that are not yet necessary for society, like veranda gardening and DIY; and a lower class that is content to work for lower end wages and consume entertainment.

However, here recently it looks more and more like this all may finally come to an end. I don’t think there will be austerity, but I do see the grey hairs selling out (JGB’s) and investing in foreign enterprise; an expanding lower class; and a bunch of other broad sweeping culture re-assessment issues. The back channels say we’ve got 12-18 months. Make your move, GO!

June 21. Kitchengardenjapan recently harvested the biggest elephant garlic I’ve ever seen, and that link goes to it. My own attempt at the stuff is what you see below (size 12 boot for scale), plus, Shhh! this watermelon is a secret. You must understand? Next you see a flowering butterfly bush, or buddleja, and tomatoes that are absolutely going off this year!:

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June 19. I’ve added two more Nagoya Cochin to the mix here, see below.

Sizing up poultry and fowl before they can go out is no easy task. And it doesn’t help with a resident Itachi, or weasel, mucking about. Everyday requires at least two cleanings and two feedings, and for the ducklings the cleaning is harder because I have to empty and re-fill the rabbit hutch basin with fresh water. Yeah, I keep them in a rabbit hutch – and it works out OK. Below you see their daytime arrangement:

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June 17. I’ve been reading Derrick Jenson for years, and here’s his latest video talking about how human civilization is able to deforest the the Planet.

June 16. I think Summer has finally pushed Spring out of the way here, and in lieu of any normal rainy season we’re getting one heavy rain per week, which is incredibly perfect. Perfect not only for somebody who’d rather spend their time outdoors, but I think for the furry and feathered as well, not to mention flowering plants and foraging bees!

Next, a few days ago I shared with Inaka Life the benefits of, and zero input for, keeping quail. Eight females here are providing at least six eggs per day now, oft-times eight. Below you see them, plus flowering pomegranate; young Taro potatoes; flowering pineapple guava; a resident lizard; flowering linden; young olives (Spanish manzanilla); and flowering roses:


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June 15. Twenty years ago this guy (Mark Shepard) started modeling his 106 acre farm after the oak savanna, with the intention to produce staple food crops from perennial plants, and that link goes to a 20 minute video about it.

June 13. Daily bowls of fresh biwa for a week now, about to do a big harvest. I’ve got seven luh kwat (Chinese) trees in the garten, with three different varieties that all make lots of fruit. The taste is quite delicate, but distinctive, with a pleasant tartness:

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June 9. Grown in a no-till bed and mulched with elm leaves from the nearest big park, I call it Purple Bombastic Garlic. You see it below. It’s fifth generation and is getting bigger every year I plant it back out into the soil. The flavor too is taking shape, certainly more sharply garlic than anything I can buy at the neighborhood grocery store:

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June 5. About the time Bill Mollison published an article on Takao Furuno’s aigamo/rice growing technique, I started raising aigamo ducks here in the forest garten. I wanted to take Furuno’s technique a step further, where I neither fence the ducks in nor eat them after a few months time, but just show them the habitat here and let them do as they please.

The results have been remarkable and they never fly away, but occasionally (once a year) one gets attacked by our resident itachi, or weasel. So this year I decided to order a bunch of new ducklings from my source in Osaka, Tsumura. Below you see them, and one of them is a Pekin:

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June 2. A reader writes,

Why did you pick Nagoya Cochin, and not a heritage breed?

I didn’t pick them. My style is to go with the flow and work with what comes easily. So when I got an opportunity to buy them for a low price, and also without having to give away my personal information*, I took it. They happen to be a hi-bred variety, a cross between a local chicken and a Chinese Buff Cochin, so I’ll work with that.

Below you see their new night-time arrangement, which is an old firewood hut reconstructed into a coop and run. The coop, with nesting boxes towards the front, and the run is in the back with roosting poles. The whole thing is lined with chicken wire – sides, top, and bottom:

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June 1. So Kitchengardenjapan is booming, and that link goes to it. Bro-fists, !fistpumps! and shout-outs… lines of communication always OPEN. Here, the Rainy Season is upon us, but not before I put on my shades of deep purple { turn speakers ON }:

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May 31. Welcome to Trad’er, I’ve added new Salsify seed and below you see it. Last year in March I traded Shikigami a ginkgo seedling for a few seeds of salsify, sowed them here, and now they’re ready to sow again:

* * *

May 30. June-berries, mulberries, nanking cherry and fig make up the upper half of one guild™ of many here, this one a very berry special one. Below them are dwarf chestnut and pomegranate, chokeberry, loganberry, raspberry and blackberry. Soapwort, comfrey, black peppermint, loquat and lemon balm:


* * *

May 29. I’ve added Inuyama House [blog] to my BlogsI links.

May 28. I just remembered that in March of 2010, I started a small takeaway business called Kei-Movers, but completely forgot to do it ! If anybody likes the idea and wants to steal it, I’ll give you the homepage I made. That link above goes to it.

May 23. So my plot here is still a participant in the ongoing National Permaculture-Gardening Competition, or N.P.G.C. {in Japan}, that recognizes and rewards people(s) using stable permaculture techniques to produce good food for the benefit of everything and the wider human community.

Here’s my aerial photo entry, which is a new google satellite shot from the Fall of last year, 2012:

* * *

May 22. I’ve been in a position to get chickens for 5 years, but have held off until now. They’re about three weeks old, all hens, and all Nagoya Cochin, a cross-breed of native Nagoya chickens with Chinese Buff Cochin. By watching them I’m already learning their personalities. Right now they’re all in a rabbit hutch and in a few weeks they’ll go out under the trees into a run with nesting boxes:

* * *

May 21. 15 years ago my wife’s grandfather grew rows of spinach here. Today the soil has transformed from bacteria (field) to fungus (forest), and many of the herbs and food-plants have naturalized. Trees stand tallest, and under them a network of trails criss-cross various guilds:

* * *

May 19. I’m back from the mountain land. Occasionally I have to bug-out for a day, so that’s where I go. When I found the land three years ago, I had a dream the very next night that it was covered with fruiting trees and berry bushes, so I slashed some bush in a south-facing spot and transplanted a few fruit trees. As it turned out the deer ate them to shreds.

Anyway, today I went to take a time-out from the lowlands and also to scavenge a sugi seedling for the garten here. And on the way way home I stopped by a roadside nursery that was also selling Nagoya Cochin chicks for 500 yen a head, so I got three:

* * *

May 18. The Rational Pessimist wrote a good one called The Absurdity of ‘Abenomics’ and the PM’s ‘Three Bendy Arrows’ in a 4 part series, and that link goes to part 4. The main idea I took from it is that at the end of the day Japan destroys itself to save itself. It literally leeches off itself where and when it can and only the strong survive! It’s interesting to think about how Japanese society’s emphasis on shame plays into this.

TRP postulates that hedge fundians here stand the best chance, with the commoners coming in a distant second with a lower standard of living but not a desperate one.

I think how japan resets is very important. Over the years we’ve seen tens if not hundreds of resets around the world, and many of them have not been pretty. Watching parts of YouTube is like watching scenes from Hell. Will a Japanese reset ever be violent, or just continue to be the unpleasant experience it always was, is, can be at times for certain groups/individuals?

Now I’m thinking it’s just going to muddle along like it always has, of course punctuated by some local catastrophes. I think the big mistake of Japan doomers (this includes me to an extent) was assuming that failures around the world would have positive feedback like a house of cards here. Now I’m thinking the system here, although personally undesirable, is resilient in its own way.

For example right now the Japanese government and fellowship are looting the pension funds and forcing people to spend their futon money ahead of the huge sales tax increase, and spend that futon money to a huge fraction of small business in Japan that is in debt to various money lending institutions, like Acom, Promise, Mobit and Aiful, who do short term cash loans, and who get their money initially from none other than the BOJ (Bank of Japan)!

May 17. My son and daughter started back up at school this year and my baby girl is now mobile, so I think I might get into blogging again. I’ve got a lot to talk about but no one to talk. Ah, the solitude that is Japan!

Below you see some random pictures taken in the garten. From left to right: Comfrey flowers; Almonds sizing up; Japanese Walnut, or Heartnut, and Persimmon above comfrey and black peppermint; Leek goes to seed; Red onions under a leaf mulch; Apricots sizing up; Japanese rose on display; Queen Nagasaki Loquat sizing up:

* * *

May 9. Back in 2009 Inaka Life added on a front living room, screen porch and deck to his A-frame log house in Hyogo. Ever since then I’ve been planning to do something similar here, except the front room would be for futons and the side porches would be screen-less. Here you see a model from different angles, and part of the blue-print for the plan that shows the new room at the bottom of the picture:

* * *

May 1. Via several sources, Falling Fruit is a new project to show fruit you can pick in your city on google maps.

April 30. A neighbor brought over five baby turtles for my kids.

April 18. Here’s an older one from Dmitry Orlov, Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation, where he discusses things I’ve been thinking about and trying to do for many years. Check out How to lose all your money (and have something to show for it):

  1. – “Lock down resources
    • Land
    • Seed
    • Livestock
  2. – “Invest in personal and group self-sufficiency
    • Skills
    • Family
    • Neighbors
  3. – “Hoard objects with high use value
    • Home w/ woodstove, water-well, edible green space.
    • Tools
    • Knowledge
  4. – “Decouple from the global economy
    • Work less/make less (monies)
    • Buy less
    • Drive less

April 12. Well that was quick. A couple of phone calls and a trip to my nearest homecenter, I am now keeping 10 quail. Eight female and two male. Apart from the excitement of getting to harvest eggs daily, I’m also looking forward to trying my hand at hatching a few eggs myself. Here you see the quail in their run:

* * *

April 7. The big idea is to keep Goldfish in the pond so they’ll eat mosquito eggs, larvae and pupae, but every year only 1/3 of them make it over winter, so I have my kids add more every spring.

Other projects this spring include 1. making willow water, which is a good propagation dip (growth hormone) for cuttings. A few years ago I learned about this via YouTube from Milkwood garden in Australia [vid]. 2. Making new mason bee blocks. I basically copy this guy in Oregon [vid], and he explains how to use them and why they’re important. And 3. establish a perennial ginger root bed, something I should have done long ago but didn’t:

* * *

April 6. Geoff Lawton says it best in this newly released 30 minute video, Perennial Paradise:

You need to realize how abundant the situation can be in a short amount of time.

April 5. I remember watching this about North Korea { vid } a few months ago. What’s going on up there right now is purely to shore up kju’s base and prepare him for 50 years of rule. Its got nothing to do with reunification or external threats or actual war. They have to keep their people in check, and this is how they do it.

But that’s not to say shit (war) couldn’t get real.

April 4. slughunter writes,

That’s a neat looking hutch for your quail. I have a couple of Qs:…

Thanks. Responses are numbered down in the comments. Basically they’re hardy and lay lots of eggs, and I won’t talk about eating the birds. Here’s { a link } to some of the best literature I can find on them, and here’s an awesome link to some facts on quail egg nutrition.

April 1. I kept Japanese quail (coturnix) last year for about a month, and then my 4 year old son raided the hutch and scared them all away. As short as their stay was here, we managed to harvest a few eggs and learn a little bit about the birds themselves.

Below you see the new house and run for this year (which will be son-proof) – we’re going to try again! Took two days to build it, the dimensions are 182 long x 94 wide x 75 tall, and the design is really simple with 3 top hatches that gives me top-down access to anywhere in the run for egg harvesting:

* * *

March 17. I spent an hour this morning planting potatoes with my son. We expect about a 6:1 return. Another project I’ve been meaning to write about is this:



I created my own solar panel/lighting fixture (hy-brid) out of solar garden lights, sixteen of them to be precise. Each individual light comes equipped with a solar panel, rechargeable battery, step-up converter, LED and the plastic and metal casing. Put them all together and you get a nighttime reading light for a total cost of 1,600 yen, at least per one year or however long the batteries hold up.

This is a prototype, and the bigger point here is not in the design itself but in the method in which we harvest the energy we need. Step 1. Set panel outside every morning to harvest energy from the sun. Step 2. Bring panel in every night so as to read a book, or write one, or look at your kids, etc:

* * *

March 15. Back! Ranger writes,

How’s it going Ken? All the best, mate.

It’s going, thanks. And yourself? Over winter I put a few projects on the back burner, moved some up to the front and even squeezed in a week-long stay on the big island, Hawaii. That place is awesome. Here, spring potatoes go in tomorrow and keeping chickens! are on the agenda this year.

January 15. Something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and this feels like the right time. As a blogger, I’m going into permanent semi-retirement. After years of heavy blogging, I’m just burned out on discussing ideas, and I’d rather turn my attention to other things. I’ll still be around on all the back channels, and in my garten, so see you there!


I’ve split this main page into two parts: the one you are looking at being from early 2013 until now, and the other part being that of 2012, 2011, 2010 and before. The other part is here. I’ve also moved most of the older comments over there as well, so if you want to read something you said to me a few years ago you’ll have to go over there.

226 Responses

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  1. brodoland said, on December 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Hey Ken; don’t feel bad. You don’t need workshops, you have a blog! ;p
    I bet that reaches a LOT more people anyway…

    Cheers. IB

    • kenelwood said, on December 20, 2011 at 12:12 am

      Thanks IB. No, no – I don’t feel bad or anything. ‘Tis just that my location wins no hearts.



      • John in Osaka said, on December 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

        Well, speaking as a random stranger who has just stumbled on and bookmarked your blog, I hope you keep doing them every now and again. I’m in Osaka so can’t just head up there anytime, but my mid-term goals is to get some land and a house in Gifu, so I would love to hear and see what you have been doing there.

        More generally, thanks for the blog, and please keep it up!


  2. learnandgrow said, on December 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Swings and roundabouts, K, swings and roundabouts. And rollercoasters…

    On “The Tree”: Great kudos. 5 (five?!?!?!?) days of work for a lifetime of pleasure (and sustenance)? Really can’t beat that equation.

    On “Permaculture”: Gaman… Good things happen to good people. Hold in there…

    All the best,


  3. learnandgrow said, on December 20, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    “The day after tomorrow, TALL change cometh to the garten here. ZING!”

    Nice timing… Call it “The Christmas Tree” ;)

    BTW, do you name any of your trees? Here, all the trees planted by kids have somehow ended up with one. Kinda kooky, but we like it…



    • kenelwood said, on December 21, 2011 at 11:55 am

      Hey T,

      Thinking of another name for it, as we’ve already got “The Christmas Tree”. It’s a Yeddo Spruce, or Touhi – grows fast, is hardy, and doubles as an X-mas tree and Blueberry bush mulcher (acidic). { Here } she is.

      Besides this, the only other tree we’ve named so far is the BIG olive tree, appropriately “Mother Olive”.


  4. Andy C said, on December 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Ken
    Just read this on your blog:
    “Next, here’s something to think about. America’s Silent Collapse. The author, Sam Smith, points out that the shit doesn’t hit the fan all it once, it “creeps into a room like a shy new guest”.” and I went over and read the article.
    I finished reading it disheartened. I do enjoy your blog and all, and I know you didn’t write this, but it struck me as more hyperbole. And the cumulative effect of it is just the opposite that the writer intends. I just think to myself, “Really? Really? I just don’t think it’s *that* bad.” I agree with all the examples, sure, but by overstating the case, I tend to have an opposite response and tend to disregard the things I should actually be paying attention to. I think the freak out modality is really not taking us where we need to go.

    I should say that I remain your fan, but I just wanted to share my honest reaction. (Actually I’ve been reading Alexander Cockburn, who started Counter Punch, since the mid-80s, and it’s always, ALWAYS, in complete freak out mode. I rather think things would be a LOT worse if he had been right all that time.)
    Thanks Ken

    • kenelwood said, on December 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Andy, hisashiburi! Thanks and, so that you know, I’m your fan too.

      Re: the article; I didn’t even read the whole thing, and I don’t know who San Smith is. I just mentioned his name because I quoted him. And the one point he makes about the slow crash, which draws lines between my own hunch(s) about what’s going on the world over, is what made me think of the old paper from Antony F.F. Boys.

      I’ve taken the Silent Collapse link off this blog to lessen any confusion.

      Thanks and Hope all is well over your way,


  5. john e said, on December 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Nice tree! and great postings, have a great one with the family.

  6. julian said, on December 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Impressive tree. That’ll look FANTASTIC in autumn.
    Happy Holidays and all that jive to you all down there on the Nobi plains.


    • kenelwood said, on December 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks, jjt. OTSUKARE to y’all this year. What a year, eh?



  7. Andy C said, on December 27, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Hi Ken

    Been browsing your blog again after some time. Contemplating a visit to Jp next year some time. Thought I’d take a moment to ask a question, and then to share my experience of reading your blog. First, the question:

    “A local and natural long-term solution to the problem of disturbed food and tree balance to all animals, including humans,”

    Sorry but I don’t understand the “disturbed food and tree balance” reference. What does that mean? Is it something I should be in the know about?

    Secondly, you wrote this (I’m a mad fan of ginko trees by the way–my mom’s neighborhood in Wash DC has one street with about 30 HUGE ginko trees, they grow East Coast big, no castrato pruning as in Jp, and they are GLORIOUS in fall, 80 feet tall)–anyway, you wrote this:

    “They can contribute to peace-building, placemaking and greenspacing. Instead of writing more on the trees’ qualities, I’ll just share this { link }.”

    Now I don’t want to get labeled as a complainer or nothing, but just to say that my internal response is “huh, why are ginko trees especially good at placemaking?” thiniking I’m about to read this, then I see that I have to go to another link, and– just what’s true for me– I don’t follow that link, thinking, “ugg, I gotta get off this computer soon, and I don’t want to lose the thread of what Ken is writing.” But the result being is that I don’t learn.

    I remember reading here some years back a philosophical approach from permaculture that you were applying to your blog, like not re-writing a bunch of stuff that’s already out there. I was in admiration of that then, but in terms of the phenomenological experience of my reading, the need to follow a link to finish the thought is disruptive, and i’d really love to learn a lot of the things you are referencing with at least a short synopsis. I’m a big proponent of books on pages of paper for that exact same reason: links add to my distraction factor, which is pretty off the chart as it is.

    Anyway, I hope that’s helpful and welcome.

    Forward on!

    • kenelwood said, on December 27, 2011 at 6:29 am

      Hi Andy, your words are totally welcome. I’ll take constructive criticism anytime, anywhere.

      First, my entries are quick and to a point.
      I’ve got children (almost 3), a garten and a woodstove to attend to, you must understand.
      Do you have any children, Andy ?

      “disturbed food and tree balance” means this: 1. Where I live there is a low ratio between local food and people/the fury and feathered, and 2. Where I live there is a low ratio between trees and people. Also, yes, I didn’t write in detail this time, for I already have before, how Ginkgo trees are good at “place-making” in my neighborhood. But can one not imagine how it would be so ? Did you think you have to go to another web-page to find out why ? Could you not imagine how the tree(s) would lend themselves to making place ? Hmm…

      Continuing further on the link/thought conundrum: You’re reading my entries on the internet, and the latest link to “Some Interesting Ginkgo Tree Facts and Benefits” is precisely there because I’ve already explored those details here.

      Stay warm, brrr,


  8. learnandgrow said, on December 27, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Honshu’s southernmost Fellow would like to join. You’ll need a new pic ;)


    A big otsukare on a big year. Enjoy the family, enjoy the trees, enjoy life. Catch you in 2012.



    • kenelwood said, on December 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      T, delighted to hear that. Watch for yer ~ Fellowship ~ T-shirt in the mail. ;」 (NEXT project).

      Cheers to your clan,


  9. brodoland said, on January 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm


    I’m with T on the Fellowship as you know.
    (Does that make me the Southern Extreme or does Kyushu Ranger have that distinction?)
    Nice post on JHK’s Bang and Whimper, too. I enjoyed reading it.

    Keep it real up there in the garten.


  10. brodoland said, on January 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Ken, interesting food for thought on the peak oil discussion. As you probably know I am not a fan of top down solutions to any problem. I find it ironic that the same people who complain about big government subsidies for oil companies usually support the same types of subsidies for their renewables. Why not just get rid of ALL the subsidies, and let the chips fall where they may?

    • kenelwood said, on January 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      IB, I think the same way as you. Subsidies are bad, forcing taxpayers to pay banks for corporations to go build stuff when they should be able to build only if they can afford it, not to mention if the Earth can afford it. I think the reasonable way to increase access to solutions is to lower the costs, and one way to do that is to make loans not available at all, so anyone innovating something will have to compete in a free market in which everyone pays out of pocket.

      Take, for example, the garten of which I am tending at the moment. I do not borrow money to do everything all at once, I go to a Job part of the day where I get some money, and then I turn around and use that money on the garten over a long period of time. In other words, forever.

      I’ll speak on the telephone conversation in my next reply.



  11. brodoland said, on January 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Yo Ken, I’m real happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Laurence Fishburne has the best Matrix of all time.


    (if you didn’t get that just ignore it…)

    seriously though, I think I may have to respond to you via reciprocal blog post soon… look for it. IB

  12. john e said, on January 17, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Agent Smith ( a Brit btw) with the best, gloomy half truth, Matrix line of all time,
    I’m still working on brodoland’s joke … {vid}

    • kenelwood said, on January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

      I think I half got Brodoland’s joke. Maybe he can clarify it for us?

    • Kyushu Ranger said, on January 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Best lines in the movei! But oil has been the food in our petri dish. Take that away and we’ll eat each other (make war) for the remaining time…until an equilibrium be found again, like it used to be pre oil.
      I guess we’re not so bad after all. What has been bad has been the unsustainable oil induced feeding frenzy. That may well be coming to an end.
      Wrap up warm, everyone!

    • brodoland said, on January 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Oh I was just referring to ken’s use of the term “matrix” and for some reason Kayne West popped into my head and I couldn’t resist. I know… not much of a joke, but it made me laugh when I thought of it.

  13. learnandgrow said, on January 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Nice going on the pond, K. If you need some advice on how to kill goldfish you know where I am.

    Cheers ;)


    • kenelwood said, on January 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks and, Ha! No advice needed then, but anyway the ducks’ll probably take care of (eat) any smallish fish in the pond. Hmm…you’ve got me thinking now about Koi, or something else of size.



  14. john e said, on January 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Great pond, good use of the tarp for sure. The persimmons look delicious and the garlic you gave me is doing well under the snow, thanks.

    • kenelwood said, on February 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Good to hear about the garlic, johne. And thanks for the kind words.



  15. brodoland said, on February 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

    ken, you seem a bit melancholy of late. I too really enjoyed the interviews Andy did with those amazing folks, but I noticed that all of the people that Andy interviewed, almost without fail, had one thing in common.


    They had all been there and found something there. These are people who are not like the normal Japanese person. These are “searchers,” people who sense something is wrong with the world they live in and go in search of a way to make it right. They traveled the world until they found the answers they sought. Now Japan being primarily a Buddhist country, perhaps it makes sense that they would go looking in the place where Buddhism was born. Whatever the reason, there they found the answer to their question.

    Then all they did was return to Japan and applied it. There’s nothing stopping you or I from doing the same, except the limitations we impose on ourselves. We only have to choose to accept those limitations and live with them, or to find a way to break free of them.

    cheers man, and have a good trip to “Nihon no Heso.”

    • said, on February 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Hi Ken,
      Responses interlaced

      KEN: This reminds me of something I’ve noticed about Transition Culture. A lot of people have books on far more practical skills than they’ll ever learn. This is okay if you’re building a collapse library for a community, but I’m afraid people are thinking, “I wish I knew how to do this, so I’ll buy a book on how to do it and maybe the book will motivate me to learn.” It doesn’t work that way, I think. If anything, reading about doing it will give you a false sense of reward and sap your motivation to actually do it. I suggest not reading a how-to book until you are so driven that nothing can stop you.

      ANDY: Interesting idea, and I’m quite guilty of this, but I think having the book is usually a good thing. We used to go to elders to learn. Now they’re gone. You can read the book. Maybe it’ll sap your motivation, but maybe it’ll inspire you. I got the book Urban Homesteading and made a lot of new foods. Same with some cookbooks. People who critiqued theater from an activist standpoint in the 70s said the catharsis audience members experienced made them unlikely to actually do social action. If you really believed that reading a how-to book is a questionable idea, you wouldn’t have spent all the time and energy you have point all of us — who regard you as our benefactor– to all of this amazing material in your blog and countryside living over the years.

      On a deeper level, I don’t think any of us can really understand how information flow will affect our own lives, much less others. On the other hand, it’s probably a good idea to start trying stuff without overlearning it first. Get your hands dirtyl

      KEN: I actually had to stop reading Andy’s book, A Different Kind of Luxury, because it sounded too much like Paradise. The book is the one of the best I’ve ever read, really out-of-this-World, and the views the men and women share resonate pure, happy thoughts.

      However towards the end of the book (I read most of it) it started reminding me of super-homesteaders, like Sylvan Hart or Dick Proenneke, who go alone into primitive land and build a cabin and thrive. Those people are the equivalent of NBA all-stars or Olympic sprinters. The difference is, it’s cheap to play basketball or run, and learn first hand how much your ability falls short of your imagination, while a good piece of land in upland Japan is so hard to find that we can all believe that if we only had land, or time, or enlightenment, we’d be spending joyful 16 hour days cutting wood and growing food and tracking deer and building heaven on Earth. I think about one in a million of us are right.

      ANDY: Really? I know LOTS of people who are doing some version of what the people in my book are doing. Not all the same. And while Oe san has a website and blog (chapter 11) Nakamura doesn’t have a phone. Many varieties are possible. They are not really Olympic athletes, and they don’t spend a joyful 16 hours a day. Almost all of them rent. There’s a house in Kamikatsu that’s empty with good fields around it, and the rent is FREE.

      In fact, Ken, email me and I’d be happy to provide you with some contact details and you could go visit. They could show you some cool things and they’d be happy to meet you. But, in fact, all the instructions, the inner instructions, for how to adjust your way of thinking and your interior environment (aka consciousness) are in the book, interlaced among the stories. I built the book that way. You might want to look again at it.

      I did not (on purpose) put in all the downsides of different people’s lives as I saw them in the book for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t want to insult them in public, but two, knowing media culture the way I do, I didn’t want some person searching through and finding some little ugly detail and putting it at the forefront of their review, or even worse, some reader looking for some reason why “I just couldn’t live that way” when whatever that detail is about Mr. X’s life doesn’t have to be part of their life. Sorry it ended up sounding like “Paradise” but that’s the compromise I made.

      KEN: my point is that I’ll pick up the book and finish it when my neighbors start acting more like kogan or Atsuko or Gufu.

      ANDY: I’ll add that Kogan and Atsuko and Gufu’s neighbors don’t act like they do. The people in the book just live their lives the way they live them, regardless of their neighbors. In fact, as non-gaijin, they have a much harder time than gaijin would in their communities.

      KEN: Of course, I’m totally in favor of shifting out of the industrial consumption economy, but for a different reason than ecopuritanism.

      ANDY: Absolutely *not* their reasons for choosing to live their lives that way. In fact, the reason you mention below, is the reason, or one of the reasons, they live the way they do.

      KEN:If you learn to live on less energy and less money, then you become stronger, and perchance the natural word directly around you, too. You have more unstructured time to learn internal motivation, more mental space to think independently, and more skills that everyone will need as the industrial economy continues its decline. You’re not “saving the world”, but becoming a seed of a better world to come – and my kids and yours will be there.

      ANDY: So, dear Ken, I hope you at least read the last chapter, on Masanori Oe, because it gives you the larger picture view on the overarching philosophy. He’s in Yamanashi, and he’s very open to visitors. Thanks for the review and ALL they help you’ve given. I in no way mean my above comments to come off as critiques of you. Just responses to your ideas in response to the book. All that an author can dream of!

    • kenelwood said, on February 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Hey Brodo,

      Embittered is a better word. Not because those guys aren’t the best people around, or because I’m already doing what they’re doing but not in the mountains, or because Andy failed at anything, but because reading what he inked made me feel and see the opposite of empowerment. Why?

      Because the book forces you to look at reality in the context of your neighborhood.


  16. kenelwood said, on February 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Andy, I see you found my review! Just so you know, nothing I’ve written is a character attack or personal. You’re a good guy! I’m just trying to ink my own feelings, which run deep.

    Responses interlaced

    ANDY:If you really believed that reading a how-to book is a questionable idea, you wouldn’t have spent all the time and energy you have point all of us — who regard you as our benefactor– to all of this amazing material in your blog and countryside living over the years.

    Just the opposite, I think. Reading How-to books *is* a questionable idea, I pick and choose the ones I ought not read all the time, but just maybe for different reasons than you do. Like I said, some of them can sap my own motivation. Just like telling someone I’m going to do something before I do it makes it harder for me to do.

    ANDY:On a deeper level, I don’t think any of us can really understand how information flow will affect our own lives, much less others. On the other hand, it’s probably a good idea to start trying stuff without overlearning it first. Get your hands dirty!

    Good point about getting your hands dirty first and then maybe reading about it. That’s exactly what I’m talking about – For me, mind you.

    ANDY: In fact, all the instructions, the inner instructions, for how to adjust your way of thinking and your interior environment (aka consciousness) are in the book, interlaced among the stories. I built the book that way.

    I’m already there, Andy. But thanks! I had a consciousness shift a long time ago, in my early 20’s, for reasons I ought not discuss here. I agree with religion (Buddhism) that our world arises from awareness, intelligence, and intention — but I also agree with science that reality is improvised and full of experiments and mistakes. The people in your book didn’t open my mind, they just made me ponder reality more. You did a good job!, Andy.

    ANDY:So, dear Ken, I hope you at least read the last chapter, on Masanori Oe, because it gives you the larger picture view on the overarching philosophy. He’s in Yamanashi, and he’s very open to visitors. Thanks for the review and ALL they help you’ve given. I in no way mean my above comments to come off as critiques of you. Just responses to your ideas in response to the book. All that an author can dream of!

    I’m going to finish the book now, Andy. Thanks!


  17. said, on February 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Ken,
    Don’t be embittered. Not like my saying it can change your feelings. You (you Ken Elwood) are a monster of creativity, inspiration and sharing. That’s reality in the context of my mind and heart.

    What can I say? My book ISN’T “reality” as I mentioned in the comment I just left, it’s a book of inspiration, and I’ve taken out much of the downsides of these people’s lives. I have no idea why my book left you with the opposite of empowerment. That’s the first person who’s said that, but perhaps those who’ve felt it don’t tell me. But please don’t do the syllogism of looking at my book, which as I said is only partly reality, then compare it to your own neighborhood which is technocolor three D reality and then find it wanting. Best thing is to go visit the people, and see their lives up close. Most of my readers can’t. Send me an email and I’ll give you their info.


    • kenelwood said, on February 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Hi again Andy,

      ANDY:I have no idea why my book left you with the opposite of empowerment.

      I’ll tell you why I think that way. Because when I read your book I’m not thinking about myself; about how I can become a better person; about how I can change my environment through my own actions. I’m thinking about the larger world around me; about how it is right now; about life in general. That is all. It’s that simple.

      ANDY: …please don’t do the syllogism of looking at my book, which as I said is only partly reality, then compare it to your own neighborhood which is technocolor three D reality and then find it wanting.

      Why not? Don’t limit it.



  18. john e said, on February 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I haven’t read Andy’s book (yet) but I like brodoland’s connection to India. Some of the nice people on CLJ forum have lived in India and it seemed to empower them. Perhaps, like a returning war veteran, after such an (in the India case uplifting perhaps) experience you don’t want to waste your life. Everyone I’ve ever met who lived in Africa came back with superman powers, really.

  19. brodoland said, on February 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    ken. Great article by Sam Harris. Thanks for linking it. Hope you are in better spirits. I like what john e said. I have known A LOT of Japanese of our (thirty-something) generation and many of those people I met had traveled extensively and came back with a broader appreciation for certain aspects of their own culture. But there is a HUGE difference between the attitudes of those who confined their travel to say, US, Austrailia, Canada, Europe, and those who have traveled to South East Asia, India, South America, the Middle East and Africa. It’s actually pretty interesting now that I think about it….

  20. kenelwood said, on February 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Feeling much better Brodo, thanks. Spring is in the air!



  21. Kyushu Ranger said, on February 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    ‘Improve your chances’- excellent movie there, Ken. Thanks for that, it puts ALL the information in one place.
    So basically, there’s no tomorrow, we face extinction or at least a good culling, and there is pretty much nothing we can do to change the situation except walk more, get out of debt, grow a garden etc etc.

    I wonder which chess square we are on? Second to last, perhaps?


  22. julian said, on February 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Hey Ken – here’s an idea: drive it up to us, we’ll take it off your hands, load you up with genmai-mochi and you can longboard yer way back home (well, once you get past the compacted snow).

  23. kenelwood said, on February 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Hi KR, I reckon the thing to do just now is plant potatoes.

    Julian, I’m half tempted, but I think I’ll pass on this one. :-)



  24. learnandgrow said, on March 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    That thresher is gold. Down this way, to be honest, there’s not very rich pickings in the second hand dumps. Maybe folk around here are continuing on continuing on? (though give it a few years…)
    BAM! on the mikan stories, too. Where do you dig this stuff up?



    • kenelwood said, on March 6, 2012 at 12:32 am

      Right, round my way it seems many a farmer are packing it in; calling it a day. On the Mikan Candles, they were found through a bit of URL wizardry:

      Click { HERE }, and note the url address. You are in InformationOverloadLand -Enjoy your stay.



  25. learnandgrow said, on March 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Edamame boiling. Gonna be a looong night;)

    Cheers ever so much,


  26. john e said, on March 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Great score on the solar hot water heaters! Can’t wait to see them in action. Are you covering your holzmiete stacks or do they stay open? In the mid-west and N.E. of the US they do something like that, much too wet here alas.


  27. kenelwood said, on March 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks, johne. I’ve got about two cords under roofs, so I’ll just leave the holzmiete stack out in the open. Did I mention I’ve got next winter’s firewood already stacked !? No heatstroke for me this summer, no thank you. I’ve learned my lesson here – that being: work hard(er) over the cooler months.



  28. brodoland said, on March 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    LOL, Ken’s been pegged as the reincarnation of a Bodhisattva! That’s my bet.

  29. kenelwood said, on March 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Ken’s been pegged as the reincarnation of a Bodhisattva! That’s my bet.

    I’ve been telling those guys (OK, just my wife, but still…) that a forest doesn’t have a king tree, they all work it out. It’s like order without control, or chaos, and it works better than Buddhism ever did. I’ll never lock my soul away in a temple, and continue to realize that there’s no end to change or trouble or opportunity.



    • brodoland said, on March 12, 2012 at 8:53 am

      HAHA! So I was close right? Well you tell `em Ken. I do agree with you by the way in general however, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are some powerful fundamental truths in Buddhism, and all religious traditions, mixed in with all the dogma and claptrap. All the Best — IB

      • kenelwood said, on March 12, 2012 at 10:11 am

        Hey IB,

        I do agree with you by the way in general however, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are some powerful fundamental truths in Buddhism, and all religious traditions, mixed in with all the dogma and claptrap.

        For sure! I told those guys (OK, just my wife, but still…) that Buddhism is too rigid for me, because every revelation that enlightenment doesn’t necessarily end suffering, makes a transcendent consciousness change in the opposite direction. The mistake is the idea that changing the world through the power of the mind is easy, that anyone can perform miracles just by really, truly believing they’re possible. I think this is why there’s both blind faith and zero understanding.


  30. Andy C. said, on March 12, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Hi Ken and everyone. I just placed an article in the Huffington Post about nuclear power and the one year anniversary.

    Ken, I understand your issues with protesting, but as much as I think we all need to build resilience, I think crowds gathering in one spot with a message has, over the course of human history, changed a lot of things. Not all of the time, not most of the time, but I think it’s valuable. Who knows what will work? Our little tiny brains are much smaller than the huge swirling complex world.

    Best to everyone.

  31. FreeB said, on March 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

    hey Ken. Still reading your blog. Liked the March 16th post. I find myself agreeing with you. I’m pretty put off by the trend of Industrial societies and the whole tech revolution but that doesn’t mean my daughter would be better off if I kept her away as much as possible from all things tech. Its all going to play a role in our evolution whether we like it or not.

    It still all comes down to the individual making the right choices. Technology has a way of herding but it doesn’t have to.

    Keep takin it easy.

    • kenelwood said, on March 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Hi FreeB! Hisashiburi. Still hoping Japan will work out for you and yours one day. :-)

      Technology has a way of herding but it doesn’t have to.



  32. learnandgrow said, on April 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Willow tree tip duly noticed, Ken. Thanks for that. We’ve done fig cuttings too this year, so it looks like we’re off to the park!

    The sign I don’t like (to be blunt). It’s too plain, (too blunt?) and I feel plain doesn’t work so well here. “Simple is Profound” is all well and good, but I feel it needs a logo at least, if only to introduce a hint of professionalism into the venture. As it stands right now – for me – it lessens the message of the project.

    Just my tuppeneth worth, (and don’t forget I’ve allus half an eye on The Yen), no offence intended.



    • kenelwood said, on April 2, 2012 at 4:12 am

      T, opinion noted. And I thank you very much for it. The “AG” typography at the top right hand corner of this page is to go on the signboard, somewhere. I could probably change the font, too. I suppose I should say more about the look, since there’s more to it than just the signboard itself.

      1. –Black and white– A. Is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. See Yin & Yang or NATURE. B. To strengthen neighborhood cohesiveness – Three neighbors (A temple, a shrine and a dry cleaners) already have black and white signboards. C. To express Gelassenheit (calmness, composure, placidity).

      2. –Design– A. To exclude written English, but include the feeling of the English language. B. To represent a Punch! as seen through the BRASS knuckles 野菜|苗木 | ハーブ | 果物 | ベリー. C. To express Demut (humility) and confidence simultaneously, through a minimum of words.

      Anyway, nothing set in stone yet (maybe I should do a Basalt stone column signboard!?) so thanks for the continued opinion.



  33. julian said, on April 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I’m always pretty dispirited to see how advanced spring is down there in the cushy south….but now I realise that you are actually in a different time zone. It’s April 3rd where you are? It’s still April 1st up here. No wonder it is still snowing (seriously, it is STILL snowing) :(

    • kenelwood said, on April 2, 2012 at 3:04 am

      Aha. Yes, here at “AG” you are no longer shackled to the present! For you can experience my groundbreaking new development: Time Travel. :-)


      p.s. It stopped snowing there the day after tomorrow.

  34. julian said, on April 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

    “April 4. Julian is going to kill me,”….sez ken. Nah, I could live with those lovely photos, taken today two days ago, safe in the knowledge that when we catch up, you promised: “It stopped snowing there the day after tomorrow.” That means today, the 4th, which is the day you posted that, two days ago.

    Right now we have a full on blizzard raging outside. Imagine what you had yesterday….er…tomorrow….and add some snow.

    Ken….I can never trust you again. I am a broken man. :(

    • kenelwood said, on April 4, 2012 at 9:12 am

      “Ken….I can never trust you again. I am a broken man. :(

      Damn! Something went wrong with the Kapacitor Recoil thingamajig. It’s what makes Time Travel possible. Lemme’ tighten some nuts and bolts and I’ll get back to you. My apologies for the blizzard.


  35. brodoland said, on April 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Love that 1905 video Ken. That was a whole different era. But I would hate to have to live through the hellish 50 years that followed it.

    • kenelwood said, on April 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Hi Brodo! Yep. Hey, your place is looking mighty fine these days. Way to go!


  36. julian said, on April 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Hey, you didn’t announce the closing date of this competition. I’m busy working on a killer plan to turn a useless damp mess o’sugina’n’rubble into a thriving aquatic environment. I demand a recount!

    And this workshop….I assume you’ll be streaming live video on the internet?

    • kenelwood said, on April 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Right, the competition #ends never. You’re in!
      As to the Workshop, nobody showed up.


  37. brodoland said, on April 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Owned & Operated. For the most part I liked it and “I approve of this message” but there was one theme that I thought wasn’t treated with enough skepticism: Technology will save us: Uh, maybe and only if the puppet masters don’t control it.

  38. julian said, on April 19, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    “Amy Rose was born this afternoon.”

    Congratulations, Ken! You beat us to it after all. All the best to the exhausted (presumably) mother and gorgeous (undoubtedly) baby girl.

    • kenelwood said, on April 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      julian, Thank you! It all happened so quick this time (the birth). 10-15 minutes, start to finish.

  39. FreeB said, on April 20, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Hey congrat’s Ken! Happy for you man. I’ve got my second due in early June.
    take care

  40. john e said, on April 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Congratulations to all! and I always wanted to let them go too but the wife wouldn’t let me.

    • kenelwood said, on April 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Johne, thanks.

      …but the wife wouldn’t let me.

      Here too. That’s why the official story is “They Flew The Coop”. I basically lied, through my teeth.

      • cybermaai said, on April 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

        Congrats Ken et al.

  41. brodoland said, on April 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Ken; Congratulations! Is this number three? I’ll tell you its a big step from two to three. You only have two arms after all!

    • kenelwood said, on April 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

      cybermaai, cheers!

      brodo, Thanks! Yes, she makes three. Already feeling it.

  42. learnandgrow said, on April 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Internet fist pump! Very many congratulations to you all!!!!

  43. julian said, on April 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Jeez, I *LOVE* your garten, Ken.

    btw it’s been “5-4-3-2-1 Bingo!” here. This morning, 6am. 3352g. :)

    • kenelwood said, on April 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      BINGO! That’s great to hear, Julian. Congrats to the whole fam! :-)

  44. learnandgrow said, on June 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    That treefort {with #firebucket# elevator} is astounding Ken, really. Your kids must love it. How cool. Inspiring, great project, urges this bloke to get out his tools. One question … how did you anchor it?

    ‘Bout the garlic. You missed summink ;)



    • kenelwood said, on June 3, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Hi T, thanks. To fix the posts I did a half and half mix of portland cement and large rocks, about two foot deep and half that wide. The Tree Fort is solid as a rock.

      Haha! natsukashii on Mr. Bombastic.


  45. freeB said, on June 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

    A free and open to the public food forest garden. Should be one in every town. Wait, apparently Portland, OR has one. “Seattle is not the first city to grow an edible forest. In Portland, Ore., a 2,600-square foot garden is now in its fifth season.” Now if I only knew where to find it.

    And expanding on this, I still think you were onto something a while back when you mentioned starting one yourself and charging a small fee. Reclaimed Abandoned Land usage?
    Myself, since I left Japan I’ve learned that I need to think more long term. Maybe this is one of those things that when I’m old and grey, might actually come to fruition if I allowed it to. Dunno. Seems like a good idea anyway.

  46. freeB said, on June 13, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Thanks for that link. I’m gonna be looking into it more. -On the public forest garden: Ya, definitely, non-profit. No satisfaction in money.
    You really got me thinking about why there are so few public forest garden’s out there. The more I think about it though…
    What you’ve got is really something. Community level.

    take care

    • kenelwood said, on June 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Cool. Hope you can find the forest garden in Portland.


  47. Kyushu Ranger said, on June 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Hi Ken,
    Excellent Greer article! Thanks for the link. Orlov’s latest is much the same, ie collapse now and get ready.
    Best wishes there,

    • kenelwood said, on June 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks, kr.

      • Kyushu Ranger said, on June 28, 2012 at 12:44 am

        You’re welcome Mr E. Some serious shit going on at Shikigami, too..I mean generally, not ‘in particular’ (first time I have muscled in on their blog/tour de force…awesome stuff. Thx for the linkies. Brodoland, I see is working hard, too. Sometimes I feel, WFT am I doing with my life (compared to you guys).
        Keep it coming!

  48. kenelwood said, on June 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Hey kr. Do it! eer, whatever you think is cool and what you can get away with. shikigami is *exactly* what I want to do now; what I’ve always wanted to do… but in reality everyone can’t do it (there are trap doors everywhere), so I do what I can where I’m at now. Brodoland has, I bet, gotten uber-busy — The blog posts have waned…

    I’ve actually always been pretty busy myself, that’s why my daily entries are short and to a point.



  49. jbhealer said, on July 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Hey Ken,

    I came to similar conclusions about the feed-in tariffs. The PV makers and those with the capital to invest, such as Softbank will make a killing at the cost to the Japanese consumer.

    Also, there is a nice set of videos here of Holmgren here on Retrofitting the Suburbs:

    All the best,

  50. brodoland said, on July 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Cloud Atlas looks awesome. It seems like it has been so long since a good movie actually hit the theaters. Most movies these days I can hardly be bothered to even rent let alone go see in the theater…

    • kenelwood said, on July 30, 2012 at 7:51 am

      Yeah, this story has got it: past, present and future, all – connected in a way that is intriguing.

  51. freeB said, on July 30, 2012 at 4:10 am

    hi ken,
    any other info on aigamo ducks and rice growing techniques? This may seem pretty naive but wondering what is done to prevent a population explosion like this:
    One could really only eat so much duck… I do remember some talks on the subject a while back on the CLJ thread.

    Also, what are you doing to beat the heat these days? Assuming you’re not enjoying mitsubishi’s finest AC they have to offer.


    • kenelwood said, on July 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Hi freeb, it’s HOT here. 97 w/ humidity. The upside to this is that the heat and sun suppress the mosquitoes, so we can open all the house windows (screens and all), and fortunately we’ve almost always got a breeze that feels good up against a sweaty body. Wind chimes help too for some reason.

      @aigamo ducks and rice growing technique:

      I know no more than what can be found through google. My j-parents don’t practice this method so I’ve got no direct experience.

      @aigamo population explosion:

      Don’t know the whole story on that video, but those guys might be spreading ducks over scores of hectares of paddock.

      You too, take it easy.


  52. brodoland said, on August 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    My hat was firmly on my head today. Not sure about those further south though. It was really nice to have the rain actually. It took the temperature down nicely. I opened up the house and let the breeze through and it was great.

    • kenelwood said, on August 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Brodo, nice. Over the past few days it’s been interesting to watch the Northerly stream lines (see wide_streamlines.flv) being pulled down by those two typhoons. Made for a relatively cool and breezy summer week here in Japan.

  53. freeB said, on September 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Awesome link ken.

  54. john e said, on September 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    That’s an interesting looking collar on that hen is it. How old is the olive tree there? Looks good over there.
    How’s the ginko tree doing?

  55. julian said, on September 25, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Bloody hell, it’s looking good down there! I wish I had something I could trade for a few of those olives…..

    • kenelwood said, on September 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Thanks Julian. Watch for your mailman sometime in March.

  56. ted said, on November 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Hi Ken,

    I’ve been reading this guy for years. The middle part of this essay, on hiders, is something I’d like to hear your thoughts on.

  57. ted said, on December 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Hi Ken,

    This line could’ve been written by me: ” I’ll be the first to admit that living in the U.S. both annoyed and scared me and, instead of developing mental toughness for there, I just shifted my geographical location to here. That, in a way, makes me a “hider”, too. ”

    I too returned to Japan after two years back in the States, a time filled with the same type of anxiety you describe. I felt that I was playing a game against forces far more powerful than me, according to rules that I didn’t understand.

    So was my choice to return a choice to hide? Literally days after returning here, there was no doubt that it was the right decision. After all, I’d spent 15 years in Japan, over a third of my life, so somewhere along the line, this place became home for me.

    I agree with Twigger that we shouldn’t run from adversity. Yet when I first ‘met’ Robert it was through his great book on aikido, an art that he and I both practice. And one of the greatest skills I’ve learned from aikido, a skill applicable to all parts of my life, is that when an ‘attack’ comes, you’re no longer there.

    And if you have to stand your ground, it’s best to choose that ground that offers the best footing.

  58. john e said, on December 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “This line could’ve been written by me: ”

    Same here, exactly. Before even reading the link to “hiders” I though to myself, one main reason I came here was because the inaka reminded me of my childhood in the 70’s and I want my children to be able to walk across town on their own, ride bikes for miles, and not have to be soccer mom shuttled everywhere.

    Then reading the linked artice and bam!

    “Hiding can take over your life. I know one chap who moved to South Island New Zealand because he wanted his children to grow up in a place that was like England in the 1960s. ”

    interesting stuff,

    john e

  59. kenelwood said, on December 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Hey guys,

    Good to know that we all stand on common ground.

    And one of the greatest skills I’ve learned from aikido, a skill applicable to all parts of my life, is that when an ‘attack’ comes, you’re no longer there.

    Always one move ahead… I like it.


  60. kyushu ranger said, on December 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Ken,
    Great blogging, as always. Interesting comment from JMG re Japan- *get out while you can*. On one level I can see why he says that but on other levels Japan might be a better place than the US or EUR to ride out any of his visions of the future…the demographics might work quite well as we’ll be putting less stress on the land with each passing year. Sure there are potholes in that theory. But there are a lot of old folks who are going to pass away and few new ones to take their place. Of course the cities are another story…but the countryside here is quite well insulated for a collapse/hyperinflation/peak oil drama/etcetera.
    The ‘while you can’ part of ‘get out’ is a bit worrying. But I think if you have that option covered for emergencies, like war, then Japan migt be far better than anytown US-GB-EUR.

    Well well…I do believe it is Christmas, so all the best to you and yours,

  61. freeb said, on January 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    But I didn’t get to ask what your take on what JMG had to say about gaijin in future Japan! (kyushu ranger made some good points above)
    Anyway, thanks for all the links, idea’s and so on. I barely find the time to do anything on the internet these days so what you’ve done is pretty outstanding. Hope to come across your writings again.

  62. julian said, on January 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Oh no!
    Well, I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I’m not surprised either. You have achieved amazing things here, for which so many of us are so grateful, but it couldn’t go on forever.
    All the best from chilly Fukushima, where life really would not have been the same if I hadn’t stumbled across your writings all those years ago.
    Catch you in yer garten some day, buddy!

  63. ranger said, on January 18, 2013 at 1:33 am

    see –
    glimpse –
    seem to glimpse –
    need to seem to glimpse –
    folly for to need to seem to glimpse –
    what –
    what is the word –
    and where –
    folly for to need to seem to glimpse what where –
    folly for to see what –
    glimpse –
    seem to glimpse –
    need to seem to glimpse –
    afaint afar away over there what –
    folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what –
    what –
    what is the word –

    ”folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what -”

    thanks for your great blogging and I hope you come back strong after a Time Out. You gave me a ‘need to seem to glimpse afaint away over there…a ray of sunshine. I’m sure the same can be for other readers.

  64. ranger said, on January 18, 2013 at 1:37 am

    You must go on.

    I can’t go on.

    You must go on.

    I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

    It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know.

    You must go on.

    I can’t go on.

    I’ll go on.

  65. kenelwood said, on January 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Julian, The biggest thing this blog taught me is nothing is actually “sustainable“, only more or less stable. So I’m shifting gears down to a project I was heavily into back in 2004, which involves India, bicycles, and a bit of money (link to come). From this I’ll purchase my “bug-out” property abroad, where I may or may not eventually end up.

    Ranger and freeb, I think JMG’s main concern for Japan is not the domestic Long Descent or even catabolic collapse, because the culture here – unlike so many other places – is supremely cohesive and resilient. But as he so often points out, Japan’s densely populated neighborhood is a ticking time-bomb, and the evidence is stark. I think gaijin will get whatever part of the stick that is there for the taking, just like it is now.


  66. learnandgrow said, on January 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Wow Ken, this is a bit of a shock. Hope you enjoy your time away from the machine as much as I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts. All the best,

  67. ranger said, on March 15, 2013 at 1:05 am

    How’s it going Ken?
    All the best, mate.

    • kyushu ranger said, on March 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Good to see you back in action!

  68. slughunter said, on April 4, 2013 at 9:14 am

    That’s a neat looking hutch for your quail. I have a couple of Qs:

    1. Do they not need a roosting spot or enclosed dark covered part like most of the chicken tractors I’ve seen have? If they don’t, that makes construction a lot easier for an incompetent like me.
    2. How many will you fit in there?
    3. How long (4-yr-old sons notwithstanding) should a quail live?
    4. What is their egg production like?
    5. Do you reckon quail would be a better bet than chickens or ducks for us up here? I always worry about what I’d do with them in winter. Quail would at least be a bit more compact!

    It strikes me there is probably a whole thread on this somewhere at your forum. I should go have a look….

    • kenelwood said, on April 4, 2013 at 9:55 am

      1. I’ll lay a big branch in there for them to play on; and I’ll lay two small wooden boxes in there for them to get into. But no, they neither roost nor need nesting boxes – in a “free range” communal run like this they usually just hide their eggs in the ground liter (i.e. sawdust, leaves, chopped straw.)

      Hence my simple design with top-down access hatches. If you make a door on the side of the house and run you have to get down on your knees to harvest the eggs.

      2. 10-12, or more if the quail seem OK. “Adult quail will live and produce successfully if they are allowed 145 cm² of floor space per bird.”

      3. 2 – 2.5 years.

      4. 200 eggs a year.

      5. Apparently Japanese quail are cold hardy — below freezing OK cold hardy (as long as they’re kept out of the wind, rain and snow)

      • slughunter said, on April 5, 2013 at 11:05 pm

        Thanks for the swift reply. Efficient, helpful, and linked-up as always. Having seen the dreams of chickens or ducks go up in smoke, maybe quail could be a way forward. We’ll see.
        One more question – are they noisy?

        • kenelwood said, on April 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

          You bet. Maybe quail could be the ticket for you then!

          Last year I kept 3, and they were all female – I bought them at my nearest Home-center in late April for 500 yen a head. Anyway, they were very quite. A quick look at YouTube shows the males, contrariwise , to be somewhat loud in short spurts: Male Quail Calling

          More on raising quail from Peter Bane, in his latest, The Permaculture Handbook Garden Farming for Town & Country:

          Feeding on insects, grain and other seeds, quail need a fairly high-protein diet to flourish. Females, which are slightly larger than males, reach about one pound at maturity and may live five years, though peak egg production occurs at about six months of age. The birds can lay 200-300 eggs per year, but age rapidly if they do so.

          Quail are relatively easy to raise and take very little room. Many growers feed them on chick mash, which is higher in protein than ordinary poultry feed. They can be kept in a small enclosure similar to a rabbit cage at a ratio of one male to six females.

          And more here: Coturnix Quail Basics- Information and Pictures Galore

          BTW, I’ve ordered 8 female and 2 male, and should have them sometime next week.

  69. Edin日本 said, on May 17, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Lots of good stuff here Ken.

    Re: the kingyo pond, I’d build it a bit deeper to allow the fish to overwinter and make it a bit bigger. Do that and you won’t have to restock every year the fish will do it for you.

    • kenelwood said, on May 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

      edin, thanks. Duly noted on the pond depth! At its deepest, in the center, it’s two and half feet deep. I guess also it doesn’t help to keep ducks – sometimes they eat a fish!


  70. john e said, on June 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    datsalotta biwa!

    • kenelwood said, on June 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      In the end, five trays worth. Biwa juice, teas, sorbets, you name it. And thanks to my j-mom one tray will make it to the morning market this Sunday.


  71. slughunter said, on June 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    As usual, I am in awed silence.

    • kenelwood said, on June 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Hey, bet your garden is also awe-some this year! Is the Juneberry tree branching well?


      • slughunter said, on June 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm

        Thanks for the vote of confidence!
        Juneberry survived the winter, which is good enough for me. It’s leafed up nicely, and there are some things that I guess might turn into branches eventually. Juneberry Pie is a lonnnnnnng way off though….

        • kenelwood said, on June 17, 2013 at 11:08 pm

          Apparently Juneberry trees are winterhardy, so you’ve probably got yourself a keeper there. Pretty sure the branches you’ll get over summer will flower next spring, which could mean Juneberry pie next June!


  72. learnandgrow said, on June 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Good goings on, Ken! Biwa juice sounds interesting. How to make?



    • kenelwood said, on June 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Hey ho, thanks. 1. Borrowed my j-folks inexpensive electric juicer. 2. Pit・ted biwa one by one. 3. juiced the fruit.


  73. freeb said, on June 18, 2013 at 5:14 am

    Good to see you back at it man. I do remember the solidarity of Japan yet I find myself craving that aspect lately. Had a question regarding the identification of a couple fruit bearing trees in my yard. Haven’t found anybody that really has a clue yet. I’d like to email you a few pictures. Almost look like ume from afar or even some sort of miniature apple. Dunno. Maybe you might?

  74. ted said, on July 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Many thanks for the link, Ken.

  75. strumshop said, on August 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Interesting stuff on inflation there, I loaded up on wheat a while ago. “Here camping” looks great.

    • kenelwood said, on August 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Nice on wheat. I grew a sh*t load of spring potatoes, something like 60 kilos worth, which should last us until the fall potatoes.

      On inflation, I’m back-and-forth with Bass and this. One week I see Bass written all over the wall, followed by unpleasant visions of a fascist Japan (eek!), then the next week I see Japan just stuck in this going-through-the-motions type economy for a very long time.


  76. kyushu ranger said, on September 1, 2013 at 2:26 am

    ”Until a large fraction of the populace is either 1.) turned off of blind consumerism – by force, folly, or foresight – or 2.) rendered unable to practice blind consumerism – by change, chance, or challenge – the sort of citizenry needed for relevant change will remain to be seen.”

    Nice comment/realization there, K.

  77. learnandgrow said, on September 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Fitstbump and fistbump on the land and bizness, Ken.

    No idea why kitchengardenjapan can’t accept your comments, I’ll have to look into that.

    All the best to you and yours,


  78. ted said, on September 29, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Great news on the kominka!

    • kenelwood said, on September 29, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Hi Ted, yeah! Thanks.

      From the draft contract:



      The main house has been standing for more than 150 years, so understand that there’s been ample amount of time for wear and tear.


      The property is sold as is, which includes all the “stuff” both inside and outside the house.

      That’s antiques galore. Late Edo and Meiji period stuff for sure. Could there be something from Genroku or before…?



  79. slughunter said, on September 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    You got it!? Wow! Fantastic news. Your own little empire. Congrats!
    Now the fun really begins! (And I’d better start building that bear cage….)

    • kenelwood said, on September 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Slug, wait…

      I said they accepted my low-ball offer, that of which I pay in 11 days from to-day. So the front door remains closed for now…

      But anyway, the bear cage is a good first step, thank you. I’ll be busy with protective headgear for the bat cave !


  80. freeb said, on September 30, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Stoked to hear how it goes with the minka. 2 Acres!
    I’m currently battling the “just do it” me with the rational me regarding HI. The BI may be the only affordable island left but if you come across anything on my “home isle” please let me know.

    Again congrats!

    • kenelwood said, on September 30, 2013 at 8:59 am

      freeb, hisashiburi.

      …if you come across anything on my “home isle” please let me know.

      What are your requirements?

      For about a year I was gonna make a move (buy) on the BI, but after visiting there in January and then pondering over my discoveries, I realized that place is too dynamic to make a decision on land without being there to observe it throughout the year. After all, I want to grow food too, not just retire to pumice on a pension.

      Anyway, I think I know Japan better — Both the landbase and politics. Lately abernomics has been a BIG distraction, to my delight pushing the price (demand) for rural land down yet another notch. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics too, may be just what Japan needs to spur massive investment in sunrise energy systems, nailing the coffin shut on #nuke energy forever [fingeres crossed].


  81. JK said, on October 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Great to hear that you are getting a Kominka. I have myself ne for sale in Nagano too 1.5 acres. I left it in the middle of renovations due to the Fuku mess. If interested let me know. Now in Kyushu there are many more things happening ..including Kominkas, etc..

    • kenelwood said, on October 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Thank you, JK. Is this the JK, from M.G.U.J. ? Good to hear you’re staying busy in Kyushu, and YES I am interested in knowing more about the place you’re selling in Nagano. Myself, and perchance a friend, might be interested.

      Please shoot a mail to kenelwood[at]


  82. kyushu ranger said, on October 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Looks like the dogs bollocks, Ken. Nice one!

  83. stamplicker said, on October 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    long time lurker; compelled to comment: bloody nice – congrats with the Kominka! Can’t believe the price…

  84. kenelwood said, on October 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    KR, thanks.

    stamplicker, thank you. The price is just the beginning…

    The annual property tax is what you really won’t believe, not to mention the demographics of there and what it means for my operation come 10 years from today.


  85. Ed said, on October 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Ken, Gaijinpot has died taking your remarkable Countryside Living thread with it. I say remarkable as it was the only thread where there was no flaming or fighting as in every other thread on the site.

    SRM has started up a new site called Gaijin Gang, so far there has been no fighting or flaming. I’d like to invite you and yours to the new site because of your take on life and living in Japan is much different than that of the denizens of the big cities.

    So too I think people would be appreciative of your take on things–that and the possibility of you persuading people to sit back, kick their shoes off, sample the home brewed beer, fresh baked pie and homemade ice cream.

    • kenelwood said, on October 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Ed. Thanks for the nice comment about the Countryside Living thread. I met many people there and learned much. I can never forget it.

      And thank you for the invite to Gaijin Gang Forum, and I made that link hot for anyone else reading this.

      By the way, Ed, if you are interested there is the Official Country Living in Japan Forum with 76 total registered members. At the request of a friend, I set it up back in 2007 with the idea that GP was going down.


  86. clivevfrance said, on November 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Excellent (but a bit chaotic) site. Just discovered it. I’ve been looking at kominka down in Chiba (too expensive) and studying simple house-building online. I would love to get up and see you in Nagano in the spring. Willing to help do the house up while I’m there. All the best, Clive

    • kenelwood said, on November 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      Hi CvF, beautiful photography at your blog.

      After shopping around for nearly 8 years I found that Nagano kominka go for the best prices. I got mine on 2.2 acres for $10K. But you get what you pay for – mine is going south, and fast. There are holes in the walls on the doma side and one of the kura’s roof has partially fallen off.


      • clivevfrance said, on November 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

        It sounds like a good deal. Having a one-inhabited structure means that there should be basic infrastructure such as cesspit, electricity, etc. At worst, you can use the materials from the house to build a simple shelter.

        How did you find it? Not online?

        As I wrote, give me a shout if you need a hand some time.

        • kenelwood said, on November 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm

          I found it via (shinshu). So yes, online. I haggled the price way down from what it was listed as, but only after a property visit first.

          The house can be hooked up to the grid, but after refurbishment work the property will be chiefly off-grid. The cesspit is a time-honored vertical flow reed-bed system.

          OK, thanks again for the offer of help.



  87. Ed said, on November 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm


    Having fun with your fixer upper I see. Just a thought but, you could also get some cold hardy pears and other fruit trees in as well. There are some nice varieties on this website and several of them taste and keep much better than those insipid La France pears the Japanese love so much.

    • kenelwood said, on November 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Ed! Thanks for that link. Yeah, all sorts of trees are in order – also more chestnut, some quince, gingko, apricot, plum, juneberry or serviceberry, etc.


  88. Ed said, on November 12, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Looking forward to seeing what you’re going to plant out there.

  89. freeb said, on November 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

    From James Howard Kunstler’s Blog:
    ” My bet, though, is that a fascist takeover of the US would end up being as inept and ineffectual as ObamaCare. It is one of the great hidden blessings of our time, actually, that anything organized on the massive scale is doomed to failure. But it is likewise the great mission of our time to prepare to get local and smaller, something we’re not really ready for and certainly not interested in. The intertwining of these dynamics will be the story in the year to come.”

    You may or may not have caught that one. Thought of it as I was catching up on your blog.
    That’s interesting what you say about Japan becoming fascist. You know I think you’re right. It could actually gain traction. And I think that for those living through the tough years ahead, that could actually be a good thing. I mean who wants to see the safety and well being of their own families at daily risk even if it means a better future may be on the other side. The key of course is not being caught in the middle of it all if that’s at all allowed. Suppose there’s different levels of fascism.

    When I think back to when I was planning a move to Japan, I went over so many of the various outcomes for the Japan that my kids would inhabit in my head. As I sit here in the US searching out land to settle on I can’t imagine as many different outcomes for this giant landmass. So much of it seems obvious. I don’t know, sometimes I like that and sometimes I don’t.


    • kenelwood said, on November 19, 2013 at 7:51 am

      freeb, thanks for plugging the Kunstler quote. Good point about fascism being unable to happen there (US) on the national scale.

      Our kids will live to 2100 ! In my decision(s) for them here I’m factoring in more eco-catastrophe and less social upheaval, but remembering that there could be a good dose of both.


  90. freeb said, on November 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Kunstler on Japan again. “A correspondent of mine objected to the idea I floated a couple of times that Japan would be the first advanced industrial nation to “go medieval.” ”

    I think I might like the Medieval he’s referring to as opposed to the reference of “Getting Medieval”.. as in the American made classic, Pulp Fiction.

    Man, Japan sounds good sometimes.

  91. kenelwood said, on November 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Hey freeb, so long as there aren’t feudal warrior castes, say Samurai (see Secom [Modern Japan’s largest security firm] ), who go rouge and kill peasants, things might be quite pleasant in the countryside. :-)


  92. Eric in Japan said, on November 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Awesome Blog! Thanks for linking to me. I’ve been spending most of the last couple hours reading (and drinking whiskey) Congratulations on the Nagano land purchase! I have a friend who is moving up near Karuizawa to make and sell “Shokuyou-Hozuki Jam” He bought an old Ryokan for a song. It is pretty hard done by though.

    • kenelwood said, on November 24, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Hi Eric, likewise on the blog. And thanks for joining the CLJ Forum — I hope you enjoy it !

      After reading through your blog:

      I’m currently working on my own Chewbacca look ; Kudzu blossom jelly and Dandelion coffea = outstanding job ; I like your air-flow firewood stack ; Down with the Inoshishi !!! ; Nobody in my neighborhood is planning for the Long Emergency, I think ; I’ve also got a Vermont Castings woodstove (aspen) ; Peak oil is already here but nobody knows it yet (print this link and give it to the wife [pdf]) ; Well done on the Hoshigaki.

      Nice to see your variety of fruit trees there ; Awesome build on the Solar Parabolic Cooker ; I also think “abandoned farmland will eventually be brought back into production.” It’ll have to be! ; WTF got into your chicken tractor !?


      • Eric in Japan said, on November 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        The chicken tractor…. I dunno, but it was big, mean, and apparently full by the time it left. Maybe a tanuki or a stray dog.

  93. Jeff Coner said, on December 9, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I am inspired by everything I see on this page. So many people living life in a non-invasive, earth-respectful manner have been surfacing in recent years and I love it. I have a dream that humanity will see the error of its ways and return once again to a life lived in conjunction with nature. Some consider this unobtainable. Maybe we won’t see it in our life time, but if we keep setting examples and leading with practices as such are demonstrated here, Perhaps future generations will pick up where we left off. Thank you.

  94. kyushu ranger said, on January 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    HNY Ken!

  95. rza said, on January 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Yo Ken! I’ve really enjoyed your stuff lately. Good to see you alive and kicking. I’ll be following the progress on your dreamy Nagano homestead closely. I’ve been searching for years for a similar spread.

  96. rza said, on January 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Ken, thanks for the link! You’d make a good neighbor, right?! I would so love a property with house, forest, field, and rice paddy – along the lines of your place. But unfortunately I’ve put my roots down where those places really don’t exist. At least not close to the ocean where I need to be. Every time I check a site like the Miyazaki properties are zero. Cheap land is easy to buy but I’m not ready to build my own house. Someday I’ll find a place, right? someday…..

  97. rza said, on January 9, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Nice finds! The one with the house doesn’t look bad. That area is actually quite appealing, close to the organic paradise of Aya……though still, too far from the waves. Thanks for the links – I’ll keep my eyes on that website.

  98. kyushu ranger said, on January 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Now that the growth of these cities has stopped, their advantages are all turning into disadvantages, like white discs in the Othello game being flipped over to show their black faces.

    – Asahi Shimbun


  99. asukealexander said, on April 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Hey Ken! Chad here in Nagoya from the Asukealexander blog. Noticed your post on the blog recently (I don’t receive notications) and thought I should get back to you. The house is pretty much livable, but I’ve been in to some other things recently and haven’t quite been able to get the house up to spec.

    The pipe dream of living there didn’t pan out due to lack of employment and lifestyle changes in town during the construction. Still it’s something. Your place in Nagano looks sweet. You must be itching to go there. If you want to hang out, I’ll probably be up that way (Hakuba) during Obon. Anyway, I started keeping European honey bees, so there’s a bit of excitement for ya! Check it out, if you’re interested. Any feedback is appreciated. Take care.

    • kenelwood said, on April 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Alex, thanks for finally getting back to me.

      The pipe dream of living there didn’t pan out due to lack of employment and lifestyle changes in town during the construction.

      I see. On the bright side you built an awesome little place in the woods, and that is something remarkable, I think.

      Your place in Nagano looks sweet. You must be itching to go there.

      Yeah it’s a gem; a little shangri la in the Uplands. I’m going again in a few days, this time to back-fill trees – apple, pear, plum, chestnut, almond, meta-sequoia (dawn redwood), persimmon, pomegranate, gingko and walnut.

      If you want to hang out, I’ll probably be up that way (Hakuba) during Obon.

      Cool, OK I’ll let you know if I’m going at that time, too.

      I started keeping European honey bees, so there’s a bit of excitement for ya! Check it out, if you’re interested.

      Cool, heading to your blog now…


  100. john e said, on May 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    looks great in Nagano Ken, enjoy it!

  101. slughunter said, on May 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Looking amazing up there. I’m intrigued to know how you got 37 trees up there in one go! Must have been pretty cramped in yer car.
    Also, technical question: is there any way to see the photos larger, other than laboriously clicking on them one by one? I want to see them closer, but it’s taking forever loading each one up.

    • kenelwood said, on May 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Slug, hisashiburi !

      About 20 of the trees were big root-ball and all, extremely heavy. The rest were bare root. The back of the van was FULL of tree. :-) The whole operation was lengthy and difficult.

      Is there any way to see the photos larger, other than laboriously clicking on them one by one? I want to see them closer, but it’s taking forever loading each one up.

      Slow internet connection there?


  102. kyushu ranger said, on July 4, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Blog looking good Ken.

  103. kyushu ranger said, on July 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Ken. I’ll be helping with the Kiji rearing just as soon as I see the back of summer. Looks good. BTW heard of Saihate?

  104. kyushu ranger said, on July 21, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    • kenelwood said, on July 23, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Thanks, Ranger. I know Saihate. They’ve been in my ‘active links’ for some time, and I check their blog on occasion. Looks good there.


  105. Edwin said, on July 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Wow, what a wealth of information! I have a similar dream, altho I am years behind you and still in the learning and small trial stage. currently in Hakuba, so pretty close to you. Would you be open to visitors? I’d love to see your place and chat permaculture with you.

    • kenelwood said, on July 24, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Edwin, you’ve certainly picked a good location for your trail stage ! What exactly are you up to there? I’m open to visitors whom are confidants, so to you for now I say “Yoroshiku”.


      • Edwin said, on July 25, 2014 at 8:02 am

        I’m in Hakuba as a
        canyoning guide.
        growing some small plots of
        corn and potatoes and such.

        getting used to so many foriegners, my
        last town didn’t even have a single stoplight,
        let alone another foriegner.

  106. Edwin said, on July 25, 2014 at 8:04 am


    feel free to send me
    an email man, my GF and i would love to
    meet up and chat

  107. tsuchidango said, on August 9, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Ken,

    Just a note for your 2014 July 30th post : the plant you called water lettuce is also known as water hyacinth ( ).

    I was revisiting Kai’s website (tokyo urbanpermaculture) and got to see him mentioning your blog, so i thought of checking out your latest news.

    Congratulation for finally finding your haven in the mountain. I’ve been following your blog and the countryside living thread of gaijinpot, since 2007 or 08, and I’m impressed by your perseverance (in being active on the net and reporting your findings) and very grateful for it since you constantly dig up great stuff.

    We’ve never met but since you follow Saihate, i shall mention that i used to be a full-time member (one of the few families who settled there) until last year as we (with my wife) moved back to Hiroshima for family reasons.
    We are still connected to the village but more like part-timers.

    Anyways, cheers to you and all.


    • kenelwood said, on August 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Kevin, hello. Thanks for the pat on the back and for the clarification on the water lettuce! And it’s nice to hear about your Saihate connection. Do you have plans to move back there full-time, or…?

      As you may or may not know, after March 11 lots of the guys and gals from gaijinpot moved over to the CLJ Forum, where there are now over 80 members. Do have a look if you haven’t already.


  108. Ed said, on August 10, 2014 at 7:58 am


    You mention growing papaya, how is it a wintering over in your area. I plant seeds every year here in Tokyo only to have it die off around early January despite bringing it indoors.

    My mangoes are more resilient, I have some nice 5yr old trees on the balcony at the moment.

    • kenelwood said, on August 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Ed, hisashiburi. I picked up a seedling (papaya) at the Homecenter back in the Spring, and of course don’t expect it to overwinter in our climate here, but just want to see what I can get away with over the warmer half of the year.

      Apparently, if given the right conditions, papaya will produce fruit the first year of planting, so that’s what I’m trying to do – a sort of live fast, die hard approach.

      Hmm, mangoes sound yum.


  109. freeb said, on August 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    JMG never disappoints does he. Got a little nuts as he always does but wrapped it up really well.

    I moved back to Maui couple months ago. If you ever make it back to Hawaii let me know. Here I am in paradise but I’m still fantasizing about moving back to Japan to work some land and slow down a bit. Currently thinking about foodtrucks, farming and philanthropy. (english teaching). You may find me on the CLJ forum sometime in the nearish future picking brains again.


    • kenelwood said, on August 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      freeb, mahalo.

      Do comment at the CLJ forum.

      Back to Maui and you’re half way here!

      A few years ago I exchanged a comment with JMG at the Archdruid Report, where his general advice for me was to get off the Japanese archipelago. I share his concerns, but at the same time I think short term Japan can be nice. Our kids can theoretically live to 2100!, so I think it’ll be their move and not mine.

      On podcasts, here are a few of my favorites over the past few years:

      1. Scott Mann interviewed Peter Bane, author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country. It’s over an hour in length and well worth the listen.

      They talk about Bane’s lead up to and work in Permaculture, American-specific narratives, timing for change there, who might the best agents for change be there, building holistic resilience there, and at the end Bane talks about habitat regeneration and awareness of natural limits as being fundamental to a shift in American consciousness.

      2. Chris Martenson interviewed John Michael Greer. They talk about economic narratives, empire, empire coming undone, building resilience, and at the end Michael veers off into impressively honest rambling about how dreadfully boring suburban corporate lifestyle can be, but how happy it makes the toy makers. 45 minutes.

      3. Heinberg, Kunstler, Foss, Orlov & Chomsky on A Public Affair. Discussion begins at 7 minutes in.


  110. Edwin said, on August 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I’m free this week! drop me an email if you have time please!


  111. kyushu ranger said, on November 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Hey Ken, Everything OK there? (not sure how far you are from the fault line).

  112. freeb said, on December 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Howzit man!? Interested to hear how it went with the papaya fruit. Has the tree survived so far? How’s the taro?
    I’m enjoying the year round growing season here on Maui. Still takes some figuring out between my elevation, pests, blight and the seasons. Cooler weather crops right now but still warm enough for tomatoes in the sun.
    What are you currently up to?

  113. John E said, on August 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Ken,

    Did you go for Puna?

    • kenelwood said, on August 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      JohnE !

      [ reply edited out and sent to your inbox at CLJ ]


  114. freeb said, on August 19, 2015 at 11:33 am

    stoked to see you back posting! Big Projects? Hawaii?

    • kenelwood said, on August 19, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      And happy to hear that you’re headed towards here.


      Old Hawaii !

  115. Jonh said, on August 24, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Ken! Just wandering where can i get those Nagoya chickens…? Any contact info? Thanks!

  116. David said, on October 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi, how did you chose you Husky? I live in Hokkaido but cannot seem to find any reliable advice on the net about breeders.



    • kenelwood said, on October 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hi David,

      Our nearest big Homecenter is sourcing a puppy for us via their well-established breeder contacts. As to the legitimacy of the breeder, I’m only going on the word of the Homecenter, which is that the breeder is sound.


      • David said, on October 5, 2015 at 9:39 am

        Thanks for the reply. Hope to see pictures on your blog soon!

  117. David said, on November 5, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Congrats on Addison, she is adorable. Where did you get her? Straight from the breeder? I have zero experience with pet shops in Japan and would rather deal directly with breeders but not sure if it is possible around here.


    • kenelwood said, on November 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks. Got him at our local pet shop, easily enough.

  118. freeb said, on November 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Hi ken. A little while back, you gave me a few links to real estate in Western Japan. Don’t want to bug you but any recollection of what they were? Its been wiped from internet history.

  119. freeb said, on November 23, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Thanks ken you’re a good dude.

    Going well here. Busy trying to figure out how to prosper and thrive in the years ahead. I still think Japan is in my family’s future. My wife still has her apprehensions but not due to the impending public debt problems and such. Rather for the same old same. A repeat of what we endured last move there.
    Of course I think that the US is in for some serious restructuring if it isn’t in it already. I don’t really want my family to be part of that if don’t have to.

    The Chugoku area is probably more likely than Kyushu but North Kyushu isn’t out of the realm.


  120. freeb said, on December 15, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Hi ken,
    Thanks for the link. Keeping my wheels turning. Agree with your recent writings. You really worded it well in my opinion. It’s what you’d call living in Reality. Nasty convoluted place at first glance but disentangling once you come to terms with it and settle in.


    • kenelwood said, on December 17, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Hi again freeb,

      You’ll get here soon enough.

      On the broader future, I think the accurate forecasters are looking for doubt, anomalies, and details that undermine the dominate stories of our time.

      I can’t play the game of let’s save the world. Seriously, how much money and existing friends and family does it take to do that, or pretend to do that ? If I did it the way many others do – painting signs, sustained civil disobedience, constant system disruption, mega-investment, allocating social capital, dropping out 100%, etc – I’d probably be dead by now, or in a far worse place.


  121. Phil said, on March 24, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Hi Ken
    i just stumbled on your page from GP
    im an aspiring farmer living in gifu need to make a start is there a community of gaijin farmers that can give the inside know? sorry to bug ya mate! got an enjoyable read of your posts ahead!

    • Andy Couturier said, on March 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Hello Ken and friends of Ken. Andy Couturier of A Different Kind of Luxury here. Have you read and loved the book? It is currently out of print and no longer available. A new publisher might be interested in a new edition. It would be an important time to vote yes for this! How? Please, if you might, leave a positive review on Amazon about the book. Those of you who don’t know the book, never you mind. Thanks to all. Andy

    • kenelwood said, on March 26, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Hey Phil, The GP forums closed years ago.



  122. Casey said, on May 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Ken your garden looks amazing. Thanks for the continued inspiration!

    • kenelwood said, on May 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks! Yours as well is looking mighty fine these days.

      • Casey said, on May 27, 2016 at 10:18 am

        Thanks, it’s getting there.

  123. john e said, on August 10, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Hey Ken,

    How’s it goin? Your rental yama prop sounds good, hope the pests dont get the goods.

    John E

    • kenelwood said, on December 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm


      It’s going good ! Woodstove is being steadily supplied with firewood now, winter is upon us ! Apparently it’s supposed to be a cold one this year.

      How are you ?


  124. freeb said, on September 17, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Ken, You still out there?
    I’ve been thinking about the U.N.’s Agenda 21 lately. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. Interested in hearing how you see it running its course in Japan. I think its important to plan accordingly and I don’t think many people are even aware of its existence or actual intentions.

    • kenelwood said, on December 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm


      The Trump card has been thrown ! I think He legitimizes how many older and some younger white, black and even latino! ‘Muricans REALLY feel about the state of things.These Americans have been and are being marginalized to the point where they feel like they’re losing any leverage/power-over they used to enjoy.

      Really, it’s just about the same old stuff we’ve been discussing here on the internet for many years – the empire is collapsing.

      I said this in 2015: “August 19. TRUMP for President ! in 2016 (U.S.A.). Kidding. But I do predict he’ll get the job via repetition bias, plus the fact that he embodies a lot of what average America wants to do /slash/ be.”

      Nobody I know on the street believed me.

      On A-21 in Japan — seems to me like it’s something that doesn’t even need to be implemented per se, because it’s already a naturally occurring trajectory for here. Space and economics say so.


  125. paul said, on October 1, 2016 at 1:46 am

    Ken, your many posts in Gaijinpot were meaningful and very positive. Appreciated by many readers. I tracked you down to Reddit, and now here. Mate keep it up – the word needs to hear from you more often! I own a farm in inaka Australia, you are always welcome to come over with the family and stay! Keep writing Ken. Please.

    • kenelwood said, on December 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you very much. Australia !? Very cool. Whereabouts, if I may ask?


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