Aug. 31, 2015 - Japan wins 2015 Little League Baseball World Series!
THE BEST LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! Congrats
to the kids from Tokyo Kitasuna, Japan who are the 2015 Little League
Baseball World Series champions for the 3rd time after defeating
Lewisberry, Pennsylvania 18-11 in the championship game on Sunday.
Japan team's superstars were Shingo Tomita, who went 3 for 4 in the
game with 2 home runs, 2 RBIs, and 4 runs scored, and Masafuji
Nishijima, who helped secure Japan's victory with 6 RBIs & 4 hits,
a double & a homer.
Tokyo Kitasuna had 22 hits in the 6-inning game & 19 of the game's 29 runs were scored in the first inning and a half. Wow.
Japan was undefeated in the tourney, having won 4 straight games
against Taiwan, Venezuela, and twice against Mexico, before finishing
off U.S. champion Lewisberry, PA in the final game.
This is the 3rd time for Tokyo Kitasuna to become World Series champs,
having previously won in 2012 & 2001. Since 1947, Japanese teams
have now won the LLBWS 10 times. Besides Tokyo Kitasuna, Japanese World
Series champs include Tokyo Musashi Fuchu in 2013 & 2003, Tokyo
Edogawa Minami in 2010, Osaka Hirakata in 1999, Tokyo Chofu in 1976,
Osaka Wakayama in 1968, & West Tokyo in 1967.
2015 Japan Little League Baseball World Series champs
(photo credit: llbws.org)
2015 - My 14-hr. day trip to the Mt. Fuji 5th (富士山五合目) & 6th
On Thursday I climbed Mt. Fuji for the 3rd time. Well, this time only
to the 5th Station. And by bus.
Since it'd been over 24 years since my last visit to the Fuji Subaru
Line 5th Station (富士スバルライン五合目), I felt it was time to go back and
refresh my data.
From the 5th Station, I hiked up to the 6th Station Safety Guidance
Center, down past the Seikanso mountain hut (星観荘) to the Sato-goya
mountain hut (左藤小屋) @ the Yoshidaguchi Trail 5th Station, then back to
Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station.
I also took time to hike around part of the Ochudo Nature Trail
(御中道自然探勝路), a level course that partially circumnavigates the Mt. Fuji
volcano. It was SO green & lush. I wanna go back!
When I first moved to Japan, I believed the preponderance of these
kinds of signs somehow signified a certain degree of job security for
those of us in the "Engrish" education business, but 24 years later I'm
not so sure. If there's no shame in posting such a poorly translated
sign, I'm guessing this sort of thing will continue forever....whether
it be in a store, on a T-shirt, in a train station, or in this case, by
a city government.
But it definitely livens up everyday life in Japan, offering the
occasional, unexpected chuckle!
"Sidewalk becomes small" sign
2015 - Japanese university English speech contest
This university's ESS (English speaking society) holds a speech contest
every June, a recitation contest just for college freshmen, where they
recite from memory a famous speech from history, like JFK's inaugural
address, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, Steve Jobs'
2005 Stanford Commencement address, etc. These kids were AMAZING!! And
it was my honor to be able to help judge the contest again this year.
Japanese university English speech contest
2, 2015 - 2-min. Finale to 2015 Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival
The 40th Annual Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival (第40回江戸川区花火大会) was
held Sat. August 1, 2015 from 19:15–20:30 pm along the Edogawa
in Tokyo. About 14,000 fireworks decorated the night sky with
synchronized music. In Ichikawa, on the Chiba side of the river, it’s
known as the Ichikawa City Nohryo Fireworks Festival.
2-min. Finale to the 40th Annual Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival
held on Sat. August 1, 2015 from 19:15–20:30 pm.
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2015 - "Find My iPhone" app tracks cellphone that fell out of plane at
9,300 ft. - and it STILL WORKS!
A Wichita Falls, Texas businessman used the "Find My iPhone" app to
find his iPhone in a rural pasture after it fell about 9,300 feet
(~2834 m) during a flight from Houston.
Ben Wilson says he and a pilot were traveling home Monday in a
Beechcraft Bonanza when a pressure change caused the passenger door to
open slightly. Wilson didn't realize his cellphone fell out until after
Wilson owns Gas Corporation of America in Wichita Falls. He and an
employee used Apple's Find My iPhone app to narrow the search to near
Jacksboro, more than 50 miles away.
The pair set on their search Tuesday, and ended up in a rural pasture.
They found the cellphone, still working, under a mesquite tree.
Ben Wilson is reunited with his iPhone that survived
a 9,300-foot (~2834 m) drop from an airplane
(photo credit: Chris
Walker, Wichita Falls Times Record News)
2015 - Taco Bell reaches Japanese shores!
Today I FINALLY got around to checking out the new Taco Bell in
Shibuya. For the first time since the 80s, Taco Bell is officially
doing business in Japan, with their first shop on a narrow side street
from Dogenzaka Avenue in Shibuya. Although this shop opened in April, I
kept reading of these massive waiting lines, so I decided to wait.
Even today @ 3 pm on a Wed. afternoon, the place was packed. My friend
had a shrimp & avocado burrito and pork taco supreme, and I had a
fajita burrito and beef taco supreme. It set me back nearly ¥1900
(~$15). OUCH, but hey, it's TACO BELL IN JAPAN!!
Other U.S. restaurant chains, including Carl’s Jr. and Shake Shack,
also have plans to enter the Japanese market, hoping to attract
increasing numbers of foreign visitors ahead of the 2020 Tokyo
Olympics. Taco Bell aims to open 15 outlets nationwide within 5 years.
2015 - Boys & girls, please do not try this at home!
The stunning video below shows mountain biker Jamie
Nicoll crashing into other riders right after the start of the UCC
Mégavalanche downhill glacier race held in the Central French Alps ski
resort of Alpe d’Huez.
Starting at Le Pic Blanc Peak (elev. 3300 m) at the top of Sarenne
Glacier & finishing at Allemont (elev. 720 m), the Mégavalanche is
the longest downhill race in the world, with 1400 riders from 20
different countries in numerous categories, from kids to women, friends
& family, & of course the men's race.
The Alpe d’Huez Megavalanche is the ultimate in downhill biking
contests and features 4 days of training and racing, a total of over
4000 downhill meters of races, and an entire week of entertainment.
Oh, and Jamie Nicoll managed to finish in 7th place!
The 1st 2 min. of the Megavalanche
downhill glacier bicycle race in the French Alps
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2015 - Now THAT'S some serious rainfall!
With the ongoing passage of Typhoon 11 (Nangka) thru the heart of
Japan, as of 8:55 am Fri. 7/17, the village of Umaji-mura Yanase
(馬路村魚梁瀬) in Kochi Prefecture recorded a remarkable 626 mm (24.6 in) of
rain in the past 24 hours....that's an average of over 1 inch per hour.
Two other locations in Mie & Nara Prefectures recorded over 560 mm
(~22 in) and 7 other sites in Wakayama, Tokushima, & Nara
Prefectures have recorded over 412 mm (~16 in) in the past 24 hours.
24-hour rainfall amounts for Typhoon 11 (Nangka),
as of 8:50 am, July 17, 2015
(image credit: NHK weather news)
2015 - Italian daredevil Uli Emanuele flies through 2.6-meter rock hole
In what GoPro described as "possibly the most technical and difficult
base jump ever," in a feat that he trained for for 3 years, 29-year-old
professional wing suit pilot Uli Emanuele flew through the rock hole
shown in the video below in Sept. 2014. The hole is located in
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland in the Swiss Alps, one of the most popular
areas in the world for basejumping.
Born in Bolzano, Italy, Uli began skydiving at the age of 16 and has
since performed around 700 skydive jumps. Since age 21 he has performed
1700 base jumps, with 900 of those being wingsuit jumps from mountains.
The rest of the base jumps were from antennas, buildings, mountains,
and any other places he could find over 40m in height.
In 2010 Uli won the Extreme Base Jump World Championship in Spain.
Italian daredevil Uli Emanuele flies through 2.6-meter rock hole in
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
12, 2015 - Is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics main stadium too costly?
A BIG, growing controversy has developed over the soaring estimated
construction cost of the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The original estimated cost for the futuristic, flying saucer-shaped
stadium, designed by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, was ¥162
billion, or about $1.3 billion, but now the cost has risen to ¥252
billion, or about $2 billion.
Already there are calls for investigations, suggestions for scaled-back
design options, and a search for funding alternatives that would lessen
the burden on the taxpaying public.
A $2 billion price tag would make Tokyo's 2020 Olympic stadium the most
expensive ever. The one built for the 2012 London Games reportedly cost
less than half that figure, and the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing
Olympics cost even less.
It almost makes me sick to my stomach when I think about all this money
being spent on a stupid sports stadium when nearly 90,000 evacuees, who
were displaced by the big March 11, 2011 Great East Japan earthquake,
tsunami, & nuclear meltdown in northeastern Japan, are still living
in prefabricated, temporary housing more than 4 years after the triple
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium (photo credit: dezeen.com)
2015 - Western Pacific typhoon trifecta
It's never a dull moment in Japan. We are currently closely monitoring
the movements of not 1, not 2, but THREE
typhoons at the same time!
Typhoons Chan-Hom (#9, 台風9号), Linfa (#10, 台風10号), and Nangka (#11,
台風11号) have already hit or are threatening Guam, the Philippines,
Okinawa, Taiwan, China, & other Pacific nations in their path.
Mainland Japan seems safe from Typhoons 9 & 10, but Typhoon 11, the
strongest of the 3, may threaten Japan's main island of Honshu,
including Tokyo, early next week. As of 6 pm, July 7, Japan time,
Typhoon 11 was already packing winds up to 70 m/s (~156 mph).
Typhoons 9, 10, & 11, as of 10 pm, July 7, 2015, Japan time
(photo credit: TBS
29, 2015 - Jupiter/Venus conjunction
Tomorrow night's the best night, but it wasn't too bad tonight.
Jupiter, Venus near-conjunction
Tokyo, Japan, June 29, 2015, 7:59 pm
If it's cloudy/rainy in your area on June 30th, July 1st should be a
good viewing night too. More info on the June 30, 2015 Venus/Jupiter
conjunction here & here.
28, 2015 - Japan: Land of 40-year-old virgins
When it comes to relationships and sex, lots of Japanese can't be
bothered, according to the latest statistics in a new survey.
Nearly 40 percent of Japanese in their 20s and 30s are not in a
relationship and don't think they need a partner, with many calling
relationships "bothersome," a government survey has found.
A study by the Japan Family Planning Association found that half of
Japanese adults are not having sex, with almost 20 percent of men
saying they either have no interest in it or extremely dislike sex.
A 2010 study found that one in four Japanese men in their 30s who had
never married were virgins. The figures were only slightly lower for
women. Read more...
20, 2015 - Tonight's Moon, Jupiter, & Venus trifecta
According to this month's moon calendar which is the wallpaper on my
PC, tonight was supposed to be the 4-day crescent moon. But when I
looked up into the nearly clear sky around 7:45, boy did I ever get a
big surprise! The 3 brightest objects in the night sky were all having
4-day crescent Moon, Jupiter (left), & Venus (right) on June 20,
Only 10 more days till the spectacular conjunction of Venus and
Jupiter, our two brightest planets in Earth’s sky! More info on the
June 30, 2015 Venus/Jupiter conjunction here & here.
2015 - Uniformity in Japanese car colors
One of the things about Japanese culture that's always fascinated me is
the WIDE selection of colors chosen for personal automobiles.
Reminds me of one of Henry Ford's famous quotes about the Model T: "Any
customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it
There are LOTS of silver-colored cars in Japan!
2015 - Japanese university ESS (English Speaking Society) speech contest
I never cease to be amazed at the ambition of some Japanese university
students who are so passionate in improving their English and public
speaking skills. For the 6th consecutive year, on Sunday, May 24, 2015
I had the pleasure of helping judge a university student English speech
contest sponsored by my university's ESS (English Speaking Society).
These students were truly amazing, giving up a whole Sunday to give in
front of 100 people a 7-min. speech which they composed themselves.
2015 - Climbing Season Sale on my new "Climbing Mt. Fuji" eBook!
NOW ON SALE @ SMASHWORDS
FOR ONLY $2.99
UNTIL SEPT. 14, THE END OF MT. FUJI CLIMBING SEASON!!
for yourself or give as a present to that someone special by
clicking on "Give as a gift." Either way, just enter coupon code GE59G
checkout to get the discounted price.)
eBooks from Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie
eBooks, are available in 9 different formats, including the html &
pdf formats for reading on your PC or for home printing. Or they can be
downloaded to e-reading devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch,
Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and most
other e-reading apps.
This eBook will make a GRRRRRREAT travel companion on your mobile
device as you make your way up Fuji-san's slopes....besides, it even
costs less than a cup of coffee @ Starbucks!
2015 - Wow, now THAT was a quake!
I'm guessing tonight's 8:23 pm M8.5 quake which registered a 5+ on the
Japanese seismic intensity scale was one of the strongest to strike
Tokyo since the devasting M9.0 quake of March 11, 2011 that killed
nearly 16,000 in Tohoku. And it's so rare to see shaking recorded
throughout the entire Japanese archipelago. Wow.
Praise the Lord we managed to dodge the bullet yet again...
2015 - My final issue as TLT Chapter Events Editor
The May/June 2015 issue of The
Language Teacher (TLT) was my final column as Chapter Events
Editor, a position I served in since November 2011.
The TLT is the bimonthly publication of the Japan Association for
Language Teaching (JALT,
全国語学教育学会) which publishes academic articles and other material related
to language teaching, particularly in an Asian context. First published
in April 1984, the TLT was until 2008 the only monthly, fully refereed
language education journal in the world.
Producing a publication of this quality and consistency is especially
remarkable for the fact that the staff (almost 40 people, plus advisory
board members) are all volunteers! JALT is a nonprofit organization
dedicated to the improvement of language teaching and learning, and has
nearly 3,000 members in chapters and affiliates across Japan, as well
as members abroad.
TLT Chapter Events column, May/June 2015
2015 - Venus & the crescent moon tango together
The dazzling starlike point of light near the 4-day (24%), waxing
crescent moon tonight (and last night) is the planet Venus. As a Boy Scout
who earned the astronomy merit badge, I always get thrilled watching a
pair up of the brightest and second-brightest nighttime celestial
On another astronomical note, night by night Venus is moving closer to
Jupiter, our 2nd brightest planet, for a spectacular conjunction on
June 30, the closest these two planets will be next to each other until
August 27, 2016. Let's keep an eye on them in the next month!
Pair up of 4-day crescent moon & Venus
7:50 pm, May 22, 2015, Tokyo, Japan
More info on the June 30, 2015 Venus/Jupiter conjunction here & here.
2015 - The scariest roller coaster ever opens in San Antonio, Texas
The new roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas
just opened May 13 and it looks CRAZY!! It's called Batman: The Ride
4D. You'll surely get the "4D" part after you watch this amazing video.
The Batman: The Ride 4D is the world's first 4D free fly coaster and
features the world’s first magnetic technology that causes you to flip
as you fly over the top of a 12-story hill and negotiate 2
beyond-90-degree vertical drops.
The world's latest coastering design delivers 6 full inversions and the
stomach-shaking sensation of a true freefall right in the middle of the
[Warning: Watching this video may
cause you to lose your lunch!!]
Batman: The Ride 4D roller coaster
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2015 - The tan lines of the next generation
The tan lines of the next generation
Two angels are talking in heaven. One says to the other, "The new
arrivals are having a tough time talking to others. They just hold
their hands out and twiddle their thumbs."
2015 - "Sorry, but I don't have enough time."
Really? According to this graphic from Foundr Magazine, the average
person has 37 hours per week to pursue their dreams. How 'bout
2015 - Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival (根津神社 つつじ祭)
The springtime flowers in Japan bring a non-stop exhilirating display
of brilliant colors and sweet fragrances to titillate the senses. The
plum blossoms begin in mid-February, followed by the absolutely
breathtaking cherry blossoms, and then a continuous overlapping of
blooming periods for azaleas, camellias, wisteria, magnolias, peonies,
roses, tulips, pansies, irises, hydrangeas, etc. that lasts well into
On the occasion of Children's Day, a national holiday in Japan, today I
had the pleasure of visiting Nezu Shrine, my favorite spot in Tokyo to
view the beautiful azaleas, where they have a festival every spring.
This year's Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival ends tomorrow.
Well.....not really. But my all-time favorite city in Texas, and where
I spent 4 years of my early life as a college student, has experienced
an astronomical growth rate over the past several years. In fact, it
shows up consistently on those "Best Places to Live" lists we've all
So this poster is a comical, tongue-in-cheek attempt by locals to
somehow stem the tide.
29, 2015 - Akebono Tarō becomes the 2015 Champion Carnival champ
On April 25, 45-year-old former Japanese sumo yokozuna grand champion
Akebono Tarō (born Chad Rowan) from Hawaii won the Champion Carnival,
an annual round-robin professional wrestling tournament held by All
Japan Pro Wrestling.
To win the Champion Carnival, All Japan's premier tournament, Akebono
defeated Suwama in the finals, the same wrestler he beat in the Ryogoku
Sumo Arena on Oct. 27, 2013 to win Japan's Triple Crown Heavyweight
Championship, but which he was forced to relinquish on May 30 of last
year due to health issues.
Akebono, who retired from sumo wrestling in 2001, was the first
non-Japanese-born wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, sumo's highest rank,
and during his 13-year sumo wrestling career, compiled a career total
of 11 tournament championships, and was runner-up in 13 other
He took up pro wrestling in 2005, and just last month on March 22 won
the World Tag Team Championship for the 2nd time, when he and Yutaka
Yoshie, a former NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) intercontinental tag
team champion, defeated former Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Jun
Akiyama and Takao Ōmori.
Akebono has now set his sights on getting his Triple Crown title back.
15, 2015 - Download the entire internet onto your hard disk.
Click HERE to download the entire internet onto your
(courtesy of Jim Breen)
2015 - Camels in western Oman's desert
At first glance, it looks like a caravan of black camels making its way
across the sun-scorched sands. But look more closely and you will see
that this is actually a bird's eye view of the procession, heading to
grazing pastures near Wadi Mitan, western Oman. The dark outlines are
the beasts' shadows, and the white shapes at their feet are, in fact,
the backs of the actual camels.
This incredible, award-winning picture was taken by National Geographic
Steinmetz, who used a motorised paraglider to get the aerial view.
Even after nearly a quarter-century in Japan, I never cease to be
amazed @ the stunning cherry blossoms. Click image below to view my
35-pic Flickr album. Most of the album contains pics @ my favorite spot
in Tokyo for cherry blossom viewing, Chidorigafuchi, near Kudanshita
Station, which every year features an amazing nighttime lightup of the
gorgeous cherry blossoms.
Japan wins 2015 Little League Baseball World Series!
THE BEST LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! Congrats to the kids from Tokyo Kitasuna, Japan who are the 2015 Little League Baseball World Series champions for the 3rd time after defeating Lewisberry, Pennsylvania 18-11 in the championship game on Sunday.
An amazing, fairly new weather tool to visually track weather conditions around the globe
Created by Ivo, an interesting guy from the Czech Republic, who describes himself as an "addicted kiter, helicopter and jet pilot, who seeks the wind, waves, METARs and powder snow almost constantly." Embed Windyty on your...
Who's the oldest person to have ever climbed Mt. Fuji?
Just inside the front entrance of the Gogoen Rest House (五合園レストハウス) at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, you'll find a bronze statue erected in honor of Teiichi Igarashi (五十嵐貞一) who on Aug. 8, 1988 scaled Fuji-san at the ripe young age of only 105.
Igarashi-san was a retired forest ranger from Furudono, Fukushima who started climbing Japan's tallest peak annually in 1976 in memory of his...
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