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From Okinawa To Paul and Konomi's Garden. How We Met & Why We Live in Patagonia.

Paul Coleman and Konomi Kikuchi on the Island of Okinawa before Paul and Konomi's Garden

In 2019 the Guardian Newspaper featured the story of how Konomi and I met in Japan, got married on the Island of Okinawa, and ended up living in a house made of Earth and Turf in Patagonia.


It's a very well-written article and makes for an ideal introduction to this section of the website that focuses on our life at Paul and Konomi's Garden, our little piece of paradise in Chilean Patagonia.


The article is quoted below in full...



Konomi Kikuchi's book about Paul Coleman, before Paul and Konomi's Garden
Konomi's Book About Paul

As a keen environmentalist, Paul Coleman has travelled the world, walking vast distances to plant trees and raise awareness about climate change. At the end of 2004, he had just finished a walk in Japan when he met Konomi Kikuchi. “I was giving a presentation that was being translated into Japanese for the audience,” he says. “I noticed she was laughing at my jokes before the translation.”


Konomi, a writer, says she was inspired by the Briton’s mission to spread the message about the environment. The author of 11 books, she was keen to write about Paul and his life’s work on her blog. Shortly afterwards, Konomi’s editor read her blogpost and asked her to write a book about Paul.

To celebrate its publication at the 2005 Expo in Nagoya, he planned to walk round the island of Okinawa. “I was fascinated by his character,” Konomi says. “So I asked if I could go with him on part of his trip.” They ended up spending a week together. “I discovered that he has a great sense of humour and a big heart. He is so passionate about nature and the planet. It made me rethink the way I had been living my life.”


Paul and Konomi get married in Okinawa, before Paul and Konomi's Garden
Paul & Konomi Married in Okinawa 2005

Konomi loved exploring the outdoors. By the end of the week, Paul had fallen in love with her. “I realised her whole personality was wonderful. She’s very giving and has such a loving nature. She’s the whole package.”


Konomi had recently come out of a relationship and wasn’t sure if she was ready for something new. “Paul was happy to take things slowly – or just be friends if that was what I wanted. He accepted me for who I was.”


This acceptance encouraged her to take the plunge and their relationship progressed quickly. In September 2005, they were married in Japan.


Paul & Konomi on the Great Wall at start of the Earth Day Walk. Before Paul and Konomi's Garden
Earth Day Walk Begins at The Great Wall.

Several months later, Paul was invited by the Earth Day movement to take part in a three-month walk around China, Korea and Japan. “The trip was designed to unite the Earth Day movements in those three countries and send a message of goodwill,” he says. “We started at the Great Wall of China in January in temperatures of –15C, which was extremely challenging for Konomi.”


She says she almost gave up but Paul encouraged her to persevere. “I was carrying all my makeup and cosmetics, which was making it even harder. Eventually, he persuaded me to ditch them to make my bag lighter. I’ve never worn makeup since!”


Sunset View from Paul and Konomi's Garden
Sunset View from Paul and Konomi's Garden

When they married, Paul had promised that they would find the “most beautiful place in the world” to live. In 2007, they bought some land in Aysén, a remote area of Patagonia in Chile.


Accessible only by ferry and five hours from the nearest city, the region is surrounded by glaciers and forests. “From the first moment, I fell in love with it,” says Konomi.


Over the next few years, the couple built a home from scratch. “There is no road to the house so we carried all the materials on our backs,” says Paul.

“It was his idea to build the house but I had total faith in him,” says Konomi. “If he could walk round the world, he could make this happen.”


The Earth & Turf House at Paul and Konomi's Garden
Our Earth & Turf House

To create the sustainable lifestyle they dreamed of, the couple planted more than 1,000 native trees and built terraces, greenhouses and ponds to collect rainwater. Food is sourced from their land and they get fresh water from the stream. The couple now use their expertise to support local community projects. “We are trying to create a fully sustainable local economy,” says Paul. “At the moment a lot of food is imported, so it travels for many miles. If there’s a storm and supplies are cut off it means there is no food.”


They have made plenty of friends there and enjoy exploring Patagonia in their spare time. “Every day is an adventure. It’s like living in a 1,000km national park,” says Paul. “Konomi and I are together for 24 hours a day but we are best friends. We have a wonderful life.”






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