Update: I don’t visit the mountain land anymore, because at the moment I’m focusing my energies on a different, more refined project.

Background: I found mountain land. Technically it’s in Shiga, but it feels like Gifu or Mie.


August 18. It’s been months since I last visited the mountain land. Nothing much has changed except that there is now a small bulldozer parked on the side of the road. Below you see it, plus my rock quarry, some trees and ferns:

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November 4. I’m back from the mountain land a day earlier than planned. The idea was to gather rocks and firewood along the road, lock up the van and head upland for a night of camping. But at about 3 p.m. and a few hundred meters up the mountain, something spooked me. At first I thought it was a bear or a dear or an animal of size – an animal strutting through brush.

But as I stood perfectly still and continued to look and listen, the sound grew closer and closer, and then so close that whatever was making it would have had to been in sight. But it wasn’t… and that’s when I drew my hatchet, took a deep breadth, and began my decent (neck-hair raised). For every step I took the sound grew fainter, and fainter, and fainter, until I was close to a stream that completely muffled it out.

On the way home my thoughts raced, running the whole range from “I’m a wus.” to “No, the land is haunted !”:

October 6. I’m back from the mountain land. The good news is there are lots of deer up there. The bad news is they killed all four fruit saplings I backfilled 2 months ago. The tell-tale signs were trunk bark that was gnawed on and munched branches. Knew I should’ve installed critter protection sooner rather than later. Can you spot the deer ? :

I spent the better part of the morning looking at Autumn herbs and mushrooms, mostly none of which I was able to identify. I also looked for any signs of bear activity, and thankfully didn’t find any. Phew. The stream was alive and well with the sound of rocks tumbling under her waters. Speaking of rocks, I scavenged a few hundred kilograms worth and brought them back to the garten here, where I’m basically installing the satoyama.

August 7. I’m back from the mountain land. When I found the land last month, I had a dream the very next night that it was covered with fruiting trees and berry bushes. So today I slashed some bush in a south-facing spot and transplanted three Persimmon (two Jirō, one Fuyū) and a one Fig tree:

Some of the holes were hard to dig, and all of them needed more soil after I packed it down. Luckily I never had to go far to find a few handfuls of good dark soil. I mulched with dead ferns and rocks, to keep them from washing away in torrential rain.

We’ll see if they survive. I had to plant without critter protection. I have nowhere near the resources to build fences, and on this trip I didn’t even have time for the little wire-mesh guards that I had planned. I’ll do the wire guards later.

About the land, technically it’s in Shiga, but it feels like Gifu or Mie. It’s at around 4oo meters in elevation according to my topography map, and located only a few kilometers up an old forestry road from the nearest village. The land isn’t at the end of the road, but it’s as far as any vehicle can go, as the road has been either completely washed out or covered by rocks and boulders for a good 100 meters, which means nobody will be coming from the opposite direction. Here’s the very last bit of the road; and the handiwork of uplanders going back hundreds of years into Japanese history:

Here we’re looking south, and you can see the creek in the background, where it flows even in the dog days of summer. In the foreground you can see a shovel in an old charcoal pit kiln. It’s about eight feet by eight, and if you look closely you can see some neatly stacked exposed rocks that form the kiln wall:

Here’s a video of the old charcoal pit kiln and the orchard:

{ Video }

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