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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog is my mini-journal about garyjwolff.com. It...

  •  lets you know whenever any new pages are added to garyjwolff.com
  •  allows me to periodically share some interesting stuff about Japanese culture  
  •  keeps you up-to-date on any other postings or news regarding garyjwolff.com


Enjoy...

Cheers, 
Gary


Recent website updates (at bottom of the page)
Feel free to share your comments below.





July 26, 2014 - Hundreds of flying silver carp near Illinois' Spoon River

A family went "fishing" down a small drainage ditch sometime during the summer of 2010 near the flooded Spoon River in West Central Illinois, USA. Upon their return home, they counted 70+ 5-10 lb. silver carp that had landed in the boat. Now this is MY kind of fishing....no need for a rod and reel.  smiley



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


July 24, 2014 - The cost of a phone call to heaven

A man in Topeka, Kansas, decided to write a book about churches around the world, but thought that the place to start, since he was American, would be the United States, and with that in mind, he decided to fly to New York where he goes into the Cathedral of St. John, the Divine. He begins taking photographs, etc., when he suddenly spots a golden telephone on a wall with a sign, which reads "$10,000 a minute."

Intrigued, he seeks out the priest and asks about the phone and sign. The priest advises him that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to Heaven and, if he wants to use it, he can talk directly to God. “Thank you very much,” he says and continues on his way.

Continuing through many other states, he finds the same phone, same sign, and gets the same answer, until finally, he arrives in Texas. Upon entering Sanctuario Guadalupe Cathedral in Dallas, lo and behold, he sees the usual golden telephone with a sign. But THIS time, the sign reads “Calls 25 cents.”

By now fascinated, he gets hold of the Bishop and says to him, “Bishop, I have been in cities all across the country, and in each church I found this golden telephone, was told that it was a direct line to Heaven, and that I could talk to God. But in all the other churches across the country, it was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads 25 cents a call. Why?”

The Bishop smiles benignly at him and says “Oh, my son, that’s very easy to explain. You see, you’re now in Texas and, of course, it’s a local call from here.”




July 21, 2014 - 71-year-old Japanese man scales Mt. Fuji 1,673 times

71-year-old Yoshinobu Jitsukawa (實川欣伸) has climbed Mt. Fuji a record 1,673rd time! WOW! Jitsukawa, a resident of nearby Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture, made his record climb up Mt. Fuji on July 16. He made his first ascent of Mt. Fuji in the summer of 1985 when he went with his family at the age of 42.

He thought it would be a one-shot deal, satisfying his desire to climb the mountain at least once in his lifetime. But several years later he accompanied a Chinese trainee from his workplace up the mountain, and then got hooked.

Jitsukawa uses his Mt. Fuji climbs as “training” for his much loftier goal of scaling each of the highest peaks on all 7 continents. He's already scaled 6 out of 7, including 5,895-meter Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, which he climbed at age 57.

Having failed at Mt. Everest last spring after his party was forced to call it off due to a massive avalanche, he'll be giving Everest another shot next spring. Go Jitsukawa-san! Awesome. smiley

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Yoshinobu Jitsukawa
71-year-old Yoshinobu Jitsukawa (實川欣伸), center,
celebrates atop Mt. Fuji after his record 1,673rd climb
(Photo credit: NipponConnection.fr)




July 14, 2014 - SURF'S UP! LET'S HANG 20! smiley

More than 50 dogs competed Sunday in the 9th annual Petco Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach, California.

"About 5,000 people and their dogs attended the competition, which also featured a dog wash, an adoption by the San Diego Humane Society, a giant inflatable slide for kids, and a makeshift dog park. Money generated from each surfer’s registration fee was donated to the humane society." (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)

Imperial Beach is a suburb of San Diego and is the most southern beach city in Southern California and the West Coast of the United States.


(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




July 12, 2014 - Deadly mudslide in central Japan captured by surveillance camera

A terrifying mudslide, brought on by torrential rains spawned by Super Typhoon Neoguri (named "Typhoon 8 (台風8号)" in Japan) which swallowed houses and killed a 12-year-old boy in the central Japan town of Nagiso in Nagano Prefecture, was caught on video Wed. July 9. SCARY STUFF!!

Nationwide, Typhoon Neoguri killed 7 and injured scores, forced tens of thousands to seek emergency shelter, and was one of the strongest storms to ever strike Japan in July. Fortunately, here in the nation's capital we didn't even have strong winds or rain.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




July 10, 2014 - Texas adds 1 million new jobs compared to California's 25,000

"Since December 2007, Texas payrolls have grown by 9.5% and by more than one million jobs through May 2014, while California employment has increased only 0.16% and by fewer than 25,000 jobs over that same period."

Texas vs. California jobs
Growth in jobs in Texas vs. California since Dec. 2007
(Photo credit: AEIdeas)

What's the difference?

"Texas — is pro-energy (i.e. fossil fuel energy), it’s a right-to-work state, it has no state income tax, its electricity prices are significantly lower because it doesn’t have a renewable energy mandate, and its regulatory burden on businesses is much lighter. In other words, Texas has created a pro-business and pro-growth environment. Meanwhile, California has created an increasingly anti-business climate with some of the highest state tax and regulatory burdens in the country, which along with sky-high industrial electricity prices (83% higher than in Texas." Source: AEIdeas

Reminds me of a graphic I posted on my Facebook timeline in Feb. of last year:

California regulates -- Texas innovates
California regulates....Texas innovates
(Photo credit: http://www.texaswideopenforbusiness.com/)

This was just after "Business Facilities" magazine had yet again named Texas its 2012 State of the Year, for having the most dynamic economy of any state in the nation. "Employers the world over continue to look to Texas as the epicenter of job creation thanks to the conservative fiscal principles of low taxes (including no state income tax), reasonable regulations, fair courts, and promoting a skilled workforce. The study also noted Texas' growing population and strong infrastructure as factors in its success." Source: http://www.texaswideopenforbusiness.com/




July 6, 2014 - Japanese university English speech contest

What the #*%$@? Yet ANOTHER speech contest? smiley This university's ESS (English speaking society) holds 2 contests a year, and the 2nd one held in late June is a recitation contest just for college freshmen, where they recite from memory a famous speech from history, like JFK's inaugural address or Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. These kids were AMAZING!!

Japanese university English speech contest


Japanese university English speech contest




July 1, 2014 - Mt. Fuji 2014 climbing season opens!

It's official!! Mt. Fuji's main Yoshida Trail is now open. Around 100 Mt. Fuji climbers greeted the 4:30 am sunrise from the summit this morning. Climbing season for the main Yoshida Trail on Japan's highest peak and newest UNESCO World Heritage Site has now officially begun. smiley


Sunrise from Mt. Fuji on July 1, 2014
Photo credit: The Mainichi Newspapers

More details on climbing Mt. Fuji can be found on the most visited page of my entire website:  Climbing Mt. Fuji (富士山) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 


June 26, 2014 -  Climbing Season Sale on my new "Climbing Mt. Fuji" eBook!

The View from the Top of Japan
NOW ON SALE @ SMASHWORDS FOR ONLY $2.99 UNTIL SEPT. 14, THE END OF MT. FUJI CLIMBING SEASON!!

(Buy for yourself or give as a present to that someone special by clicking on "Give as a gift." Either way, just enter coupon code VQ82V @ 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! smiley  





June 24, 2014 - 10-cm hailstorm strikes western Tokyo

Due to seriously unstable atmospheric conditions today that created 10-kilometer high cumulonimbus clouds, parts of western Tokyo including Mitaka & Chofu were blanketed with accumulations of up to 10 centimeters of hailstones, some up to 3-cm in diameter. Uh, it's LATE JUNE, folks!!

I was totally shocked watching the TV evening news, seeing bulldozers & backhoes having to remove so much hail that it resembled snow drifts in winter. The images truly blew me away. I have 2 words for all of this...GLOBAL WARMING! smiley

News source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/108275.php


Tokyo hailstorm, June 24, 2014
Tokyo hailstorm, June 24, 2014
(Photo credit: Rocket News 24, Tokyo)




June 19, 2014 - University of Texas @ Austin Commencement

By all means, don't you dare miss the amazing fireworks along with the famous "The Eyes of Texas" song at the University of Texas Tower as the UT Class of 2014 celebrates their commencement on Saturday, May 17 in Austin, Texas. WOW! smiley


(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


June 8, 2014 - Texas Longhorns baseball team reaches the College World Series!!

For the first time in 3 years, my alma mater's baseball team has reached the U.S. College World Series! Starting from a field of 64 teams, the Texas Longhorns first won their 1st round regional tournament in Houston on June 2 and then won the 2nd round super regional tournament in Austin on June 7. This year Texas Tech & TCU are also among the best 8 baseball teams in America, so 3 of the 8 teams in the CWS are from the Lone Star State. Yee hah!!  smiley

The Horns have been national baseball champions in 1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, and 2005. You can view the CWS tournament bracket here by clicking open the little CWS box in the center of the page. The Horns will first square against UC Irvine on June 14. Go Horns!!

2014 Longhorns baseball team
2014 Longhorns baseball team
(Photo credit: Texassports.com)




May 31, 2014 - Japanese university ESS (English Speaking Society) speech contest

For the 5th consecutive year, on Sunday, May 18, 2014 I had the pleasure of helping judge a university student English speech contest sponsored by the university's ESS (English Speaking Society). These students were truly amazing, giving up a whole Sunday to give a 7-min. speech which they composed themselves. As one who has taught English in Japan for over 23 years now, it always warms my heart to see such conscientious efforts to learn English!

meiji speech contest
meiji speech contest




May 19, 2014 - Garrett D'Aigle Ukulele Concert in Balboa Park: Part 1

I was SO delighted to see my dear buddy playing his ukulele in the beautiful rose garden in Balboa Park in San Diego, California, as part of the LaVon Wageman Show. I've known Garrett ever since our college days at the University of Texas @ Austin, and that was a very LONG time ago! smiley

Although Garrett took up the ukulele only about a year ago, he has always been an accomplished singer, guitarist, mandolinist, harmonicist, and pianist. In fact, the way we met was he was playing John Lennon's "Imagine" on the piano in the lobby of my campus dormitory one day while I was on my way back to my dorm room.

I've been a BIG fan of his thru the years and have enthusiastically promoted his music every chance I've had in diverse places like Port Aransas, Texas; Glacier National Park, Montana; Nova Scotia, Canada; Phoenix, Arizona; Mazatlan, Mexico; and even Tokyo when he visited me in Year 2000. Here is the flyer for the 2 gigs I booked for him while he was here, one @ Bobby's Bar in Ikebukuro and the other @ The Fiddler in Takadanobaba. 

A big, hearty thanks to LaVon for her great show and the wonderful video below, which even includes numerous beautiful pics of the Balboa Park rose garden embedded in the video. You can view more of the videos from her show here.



The Part 2 video of Garrett's ukulele concert can be viewed here.
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 "Here Comes the Sun," The Beatles
2:02 "Wonderful World," Sam Cooke
3:45 "My Girl," The Temptations
6:08 "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head," B.J. Thomas


May 10, 2014 - Maria Lourdes & band, live @ Ihawan Philippine nightclub, Tokyo, Japan

Jazz vocalist Maria Lourdes performed tonight @ Ihawan Kabukicho with the Kose Kikuchi jazz quartet, along with guest singer Carru Torreña, who performed 2 songs beginning @ the 10:46 mark.

Maria began singing when she was just 5 years old, and won a television singing contest in her native Philippines at age 8.

She's still passionate about singing and runs Maria's English and Singing (MES) School in Hamamatsu, Japan where she serves as a voice coach and cram school teacher.

Thank you, Maria, Kose, & Carru!!

More info:
http://www.ihawan.jp/
http://marialourdesjazzer.webs.com/



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




May 5, 2014 - Dreams of Space Travel 「夢の宇宙」

Commercial space tourism envisioned by billionaire Sir Richard Branson (リチャード・ブランソン卿) is coming ever closer to reality as his spaceflight company Virgin Galactic (ヴァージン・ギャラクティック社) finalizes the testing of its suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo, making it possible that its first commercial flight may occur as early as sometime later this year.

A ride on SpaceShipTwo will cost $250,000 (2500万円), and 18 of the 650 passengers who have already paid for their tickets are Japanese, including 68-year-old Kozo Hiramatsu (平松庚三), a Tokyo management consultant who signed up 10 years ago.

Sir Richard Branson, an amateur adventurer who is world-famous for his publicity stunts, has been interested in space since at least the Apollo era, and is expected to be aboard the maiden flight along with some members of his family.

SpaceShipTwo will carry 6 passengers at a time and launch from underneath its carrier aircraft called WhiteKnightTwo, separating and rocketing to more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) in altitude where passengers will experience 3.5 times the speed of sound, a few minutes of out-of-seat zero gravity, and be able to view Earth from the blackness of space.

For the return trip, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo is designed so that it can move its rudders back to a configuration that allows for gliding, allowing it to land back on Earth on a normal runway.

Launches and landings will occur at SpacePort America in Upham, New Mexico, a taxpayer-funded $225 million facility offered to Virgin Galactic in December 2005. Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport, is located on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range.

Sources: http://www.space.com/25608-virgin-galactic-land-rover-space-travel.html http://www.space.com/19021-spaceshiptwo.html http://www.space.com/15312-spaceport-america-rocket-launch-runway-addition.html
http://www.virgingalactic.com/



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 27, 2014 - 10 things Japan gets awesomely right

As a follow-up to their recent article on the 10 things they thought Japan gets terribly wrong, RocketNews24 has gathered the opinions of mostly foreigners on the top 10 things they truly love about living in Japan.

"Although Japan is not without its faults, it is nevertheless an incredibly efficient and easy-to-live-in country, and we’ve discovered that there are numerous things that the Japanese get not just right, but awesomely right."

Here are the top 10 things they love about Japan:

 1. Vending machines
 2. Food
 3. Removing your shoes when going indoors
 4. Taxis
 5. Convenience stores
 6. Recycling and waste management
 7. Punctuality
 8. Customer service
 9. Toilets
10. Drinking pretty much anywhere

Read the full article here: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/11/09/10-things-japan-gets-awesome-right


Japanese food
Food, one of the top 10 things Japanese get awesomely right
(Photo credit: Motuviget)




April 21, 2014 - 15-year-old Minami Katsu (勝みなみ) becomes youngest winner on Japan's women's LPGA tour

Minami Katsu (勝みなみ), a 15-year-old Japanese high schooler, has become the youngest winner in the history of the Japan LPGA tour by shooting a 4-under 68 on Sunday to win the Vantelin Ladies Open at the Kumamoto Airport Country Club.

Minami, an amateur, finished the tourney at 11-under 205, one stroke ahead of South Korean Lee Bo-mee, and just this month became a first-year student at Kagoshima High School on Japan's southern main island of Kyushu.

Source: Associated Press

Minami Katsu
15-year-old Minami Katsu (勝みなみ), youngest ever winner
in the history of the Japan LPGA tour
(Photo credits: (L) - LPGA of Japan; (R) - sanspo.com)




April 14, 2014 - 1993 Xmas tape of Tokyo

In Dec. 1993 I bought a used Sony Handycam, my first ever movie camera, and commenced to have a LOT of fun filming scenes from my everyday life in Tokyo, including inside my Japanese apt., the neighborhood shopping street, and even in my construction co. office. I subsequently then made a tape & sent it to family & friends in the states as a Xmas present. Recently I tried digitizing the 2-decade-old VCR tape and have regrettably failed miserably (WAY too blurry), but maybe you can still get a feel for those magic days in Tokyo.  smiley

A couple of interesting observations are the McDonald's breakfast sets as cheap as ¥379 (~$3.45 at the time) and the train/subway staff still collecting tickets prior to the advent of IC card/ticket gate machines. But by far the most exciting part of this 2-hr. video is the 30-min. segment @ the famous Pub Elvis karaoke bar in Takadanobaba. And by all means, don't miss the amazing Aki/Tamura-san show that starts @ the 1:34:06 mark. smiley


(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

     0:00 Window shopping in Shibuya
     2:33 Gotenyama Park House Mansion, Apt. 204
   17:25 Gotenyama Garden & Waterfalls
   20:32 Kita Shinagawa Shopping Street
   45:50 Morning commute to the office
   48:07 Breakfast @ McDonald's
   48:25 Very CROWDED Shinagawa Station & riding on the Yamanote Line (OMG!)
   54:20 JR Shimbashi Station & riding on the Ginza subway line
   56:06 Toranomon Station & Nishimatsu Construction
   58:56 JR Shinjuku Station east exit & Higashi-Shinjuku shopping street
1:05:46 The FAMOUS Pub Elvis karaoke bar in Takadanobaba
1:42:22 Aaron Narakiyo, Elvis Impersonator
1:44:28 Gary's English class for Tokyo Metropolitan Government 23-ward employees




April 10, 2014 - "Sakurafubuki" (桜吹雪, cherry blossom blizzard)

The cherry blossoms normally peak in Tokyo around the beginning of April, when both the school year and business year begin in Japan, and so are symbolic of a fresh start. And from the time the blossoms first open until they start falling off the tree, they rarely last for more than 2 weeks, representing the fragility and shortness of life. Now you see them, now you don't.

And by far one of the most stunning aspects of their demise, is the remarkable way the cherry blossoms fall off the tree and get blown around in the breeze, resembling a snowstorm. So it is no big surprise that the Japanese refer to this phenomenon as "sakurafubuki" (桜吹雪, cherry blossom blizzard).

In the past few days, I was able to catch 2 cherry blossom blizzards on film, one just outside my apartment and another on the university campus where I teach. Enjoy!


"Sakurafubuki" (桜吹雪, cherry blossom blizzard)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 8, 2014 - Billy Bob's Texas' 33-year anniversary

The following was last week's 1-minute radio broadcast entitled This Week in Texas History, produced by the Save Texas History program of the Texas General Land Office:

***********
 
TITLE: HONKY-TONK TEXAS
 
APRIL 1, 1981. FORT WORTH. SPURRED BY THE NATIONAL CRAZE FOLLOWING THE FILM URBAN COWBOY, BILLY BOB’S TEXAS OPENS TODAY AS THE WORLD’S LARGEST HONKY TONK.
 
NAMED AFTER OWNER BILLY BOB BARNETT, AN AGGIE AND PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER, THE CLUB HAS OVER 30 BARS AND CAN SEAT 6,000. WITH ALMOST THREE ACRES UNDER ROOF, IT EVEN HAS ITS OWN INDOOR ARENA FOR BULL RIDING!
 
BUILT IN 1910 AS A CATTLE BARN FOR THE NEARBY STOCKYARDS, AIRPLANES WERE BUILT HERE DURING THE WAR.
 
TONIGHT, THE GATLIN BROTHERS PERFORM, FOLLOWED THAT WEEK BY WAYLON AND WILLIE.
 
DESPITE SETBACKS AND A BRIEF CLOSURE IN 1988, THE CLUB REMAINS A TEXAS LEGEND.
 
BILLY BOB’S TEXAS LEFT THE CHUTE 33 YEARS AGO, THIS WEEK IN TEXAS HISTORY.

(Source: http://www.glo.texas.gov/twith/pdfs/TWITH14/TWITH_April2014_Week1.pdf)

************

When I first heard this story on-air a few days ago, it practically brought tears to my eyes, 'cause I had the pleasure of working in Ft. Worth at the time. Billy Bob's Texas was in fact a favorite happy hour watering hole for my fellow City of Ft. Worth transportation department coworkers. smiley

And in Dec. 2005, while I was briefly back in Ft. Worth as part of a Xmas holiday road trip to visit all of my former Texas abodes, I took the opportunity to swing by Billy Bob's to reminisce and to have my pic made (below) for my 2006 New Year's postcard, referred to in Japanese as a nengajo (年賀状).

Ft. Worth in the early 80s was quite an exciting place to be as it underwent a magical renaissance, including a massive redevelopment of the downtown area. There was a popular bumper sticker at the time that read "Foat Wuth, ah luv yew!" (Ft. Worth, I love you!). That message still touches my heart, 'cause yes, Ft. Worth, I still do!! smiley

Billy Bob's Texas
My 2006 New Year's Japanese postcard (nengajo, 年賀状)
Billy Bob's Texas, the world's largest honky tonk




April 7, 2014 - The stunning Moon/Jupiter April 6 sky show

Last night around 9:30 pm, I caught an amazing sight in the sky. The 6-day-old moon & Jupiter, the brightest and second-brightest objects in the April 2014 evening sky, were VERY close together. Wow.

moon & jupiter matchup


Interesting Jupiter facts:
- The largest planet in our solar system
- The 5th planet from the sun
- Located more than 5 times the Earth’s distance from the sun (483,800,000 miles (778,500,000 km))
- Rotates once around its axis in less than 10 hours
- Radius of 43,441 miles (69,911 km), about 11 times that of the Earth




April 5, 2014 -  Disney's World of English videos

Back in the mid-90s, I had the opportunity for 3 years to sing and dance in children's English education stage shows by Disney's World of English. These shows, conducted in public halls throughout Japan, were a true joy. The beauty of this part-time weekend job is that it didn't interfere with my day jobs, and allowed me to see 44 of Japan's 47 prefectures. Without question, it was one of my most glorious experiences in Japan. The job also entailed telephone English speaking and singing lessons one evening a week for young Japanese children, requiring us to learn over 60 Disney songs.

Below are videos of 3 of the shows I had the pleasure of "performing" in. smiley My pics are here: Disney Kids
World Family's Family College Show, Hamamatsu, Japan, July 19, 1997:
I believe a couple of my favorite parts are starting from the 18:20 & 25:05 min. marks.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


World Family's Family College Show, Gifu, Japan, June 30, 1996
I believe one of my favorite parts is starting from the 19:45 min. mark.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


World Family's Puppet Show, Yamagata, Japan, Sept. 16, 1995
I believe a couple of my favorite parts are starting from the 9:35 & 19:40 min. marks.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 2, 2014 - Brown-eared bulbul (hiyodori, ヒヨドリ) feasts on the fresh cherry blossoms today just outside my apartment veranda

The cheery, cherry blossoms are now in their glorious full bloom in Japan's capital.

brown-eared bulbul
Brown-eared bulbul




April 1, 2014 - Old VCR tapes of Japanese TV acting gigs get digitized... sort of (not all of the decade-old videos converted that well)

[Note: This is NOT an April Fool's joke!] smiley
New Zealand ambassador & other diplomats at an Asian summit lose their cool after falling under the spell of evil space ninjas


Nimpu Sentai Harikenja, Channel 10, Sun. Mar. 24, 2002, 7:30 am

Miscellaneous Japanese TV acting gigs


(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 Art Nature TV commercial (Don't blink at the very end of this commercial or you'll miss the handsome figure skating judge on the far left!) smiley
0:27 "Brides from Abroad," Sunday Big Special, TV Tokyo, Jan. 13, 2002, 7:00 pm
1:16 Hollywood Documentary, BS-i, Dec. 2, 2001, 9:00 pm
1:50 Sma Station-2, Shingo's Hato Bus Tour w/ Gaijin, Feb. 22, 2003, 11:30 pm

More funny acting/modeling pics & videos can be found on this page: Acting and Modeling in Tokyo


Mar. 31, 2014 - Japanese toilet paper "comic strip"

You can imagine my surprise last month while I was taking care of some very important business in a toilet at one of the universities where I teach when I noticed what appeared to be a comic strip printed on the toilet paper I was about to use. smiley

Well, as it turns out, the roll of toilet paper included a (non-stop) series of consumer warning messages to toilet patrons to watch out for consumer scams, like low-quality colored contact lenses, fake fashion brands, malicious smartphone game app downloads, talent street scouts trying to recruit young girls & extract big cash upfront for non-existent modeling jobs, etc.

The other surprising thing was that my students had never seen nor heard of this form of consumer warning messaging either. ONLY in Japan! smiley 

Japanese toilet paper comic strip
Japanese toilet paper "comic strip"




Mar. 28, 2014 - 126 photos pieced together to get a single, stunning full-length image of "The President," the largest tree on God's green Earth

“The President” is the name of a giant sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park, home to some of the largest and most impressive trees in the world.

Here are some amazing facts about "The President." The President is 75 meters (246 ft) tall, taller than a 20-story building! Its circumference is 28 meters (92 ft) at the base, its diameter is 8.2 meters (27 ft), and it's over 3,200 years old.

There are other trees with bigger trunks, but when you total up all of The President's wood, including limbs, branches, and its estimated 2 billion leaves, its 54,000-cubic-foot bio-mass makes The President likely the largest tree in the world!

As a result, The President is so HUGE, it’s impossible to take a pic of it in its entirety. Therefore, a team of photographers from National Geographic worked with scientists from California’s Sequoia National Park to take at least 126 separate photos of it, using specially-mounted cameras on wires & piecing them together into the absolutely stunning, full-length photo shown below. WOW!

Source: Urban Times  (This page contains a number of historic photos of The President, plus a video explaining how the image below was made.)

Sequoia's The President Tree
Sequoia National Park's "The President" tree
Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk




Mar. 24, 2014 - Expiration date laser printed on eggshells

I can only assume this has been done for several years in several countries (maybe even in Japan), but because I'm usually the last to the party, smiley it wasn't till sometime last year I believe when I first noticed that the "use by" date was being laser printed on each individual egg by some brands in Tokyo. I think this is a brilliant idea, since most egg companies still don't do this, and because I keep my eggs in the little special egg shelf inside my fridge door, the carton itself (which has the expiration date printed on it) is LONG gone by the time I finish off the eggs. smiley

Japanese eggshell expiration date
Japanese eggshell expiration date (Feb. 22, 2014)




Mar. 19, 2014 - The cherry blossom front is coming to Tokyo soon!

The Japan Weather Association has just issued the latest cherry blossom forecast for 2014, showing the cherry blossom front reaching Tokyo around Mar. 28, 5 days later than average. Can't wait!

2014 Japan cherry blossom front map
Map of 2014 Japan cherry blossom front
(Source: Japan Weather Association)




Mar. 12, 2014 - My Cook Islands Travel page

Well, I FINALLY got a Round Tuit. I finally finished my Cook Islands webpage. I posted my pics on this page Feb. 24, my video on Feb. 27, and just tonight I finished my page describing in detail the magical 7 days I spent in this gorgeous South Pacific paradise last month. Whew!! It was a borderline gargantuan effort, but at least hopefully no one will be able to accuse me of not being thorough. smiley

If you should ever have any interest in visiting the beautiful South Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands, you might enjoy reading my account, including my pics, video, & map. I was very touched by the unbelievable hospitality of the wonderful Cook Islanders! To read more, click here: Cook Islands Travel
Enjoy!

Rarotonga Beach
Rarotonga beach




Mar. 10, 2014 - Tokyo Joe gets his email read to an international radio audience

I've been an English teacher for way TOO long! Every Sunday night, I like to listen to a radio broadcast on KSFO in San Francisco by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Last night I heard the Rabbi make a mistake with his English usage, so I commenced to email him to correct his English pronunciation. In a lighthearted manner, of course! smiley

The Rabbi not only immediately emailed me back with a bunch of ha-ha-ha's, but then he read my email on-air to an international radio audience. I was SO surprised, but how PRESUMPTUOUS of me to lecture a Rabbi! smiley

If you'd like to hear Rabbi Lapin read my email, click here. And if you'd like to listen to the Rabbi's KSFO 3-hour radio show, it starts every Sunday morning at 5 AM, Pacific Daylight Time (9 PM Japan time).




Mar. 3, 2014 - Canada's Top Ten List of America's Stupidity

10) Only in America ... could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

9) Only in America ... could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black. 40+% of all federal entitlements go to black Americans,  3X the rate that go to whites & 5X the rate that go to Hispanics!

8) Only in America ... could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

7) Only in America ... can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

6) Only in America ... would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just "magically" become American citizens.

5) Only in America ... could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

4) Only in America ... could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

3) Only in America ... could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public, because the price of gas went up, when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

2) Only in America ... could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7 Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

1) Only in America ... could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

Source: American Family Rights 

 


Feb. 27, 2014 -  Video from my Feb. 15-22 Cook Islands vacation

It was a magnificent trip and I was blessed to have sampled so much of the amazing Cook Islands culture & beauty. I hope this video helps you catch a quick glimpse of this spectacular South Pacific paradise. Webpage to follow shortly...



  (If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

 0:00 Air New Zealand inflight airshow
 2:06 Stepping off the plane @ Rarotonga International Airport
 2:34 74-year-old ukulele player Jake Numanga welcomes tourists
 3:02 Courtyard outside departure counters @ Rarotonga Airport
 3:17 Beautiful blue Cook Islands ocean
 3:58 Rarotonga Punanga Nui Sat. morning market
 4:31 Making of a tornado potato
 4:52 Cook Islands children performing their native dances
10:01 Grilling of kebab sticks
10:13 Making of tropical fruit smoothies
12:42 Cook Islands rooster cock-a-doodle-dooing (TWICE)
13:24 Young boys swimming in Avatiu Harbor
14:51 Sat. night party buses
15:43 Singing @ Avarua Cook Islands Christian Church, Rarotonga
18:28 Ru & the Boys ukulele band (Dad: Ru, Son: Abraham)
25:18 My electric rental bicycle
26:02 Muri Beach, Rarotonga
26:26 Westbound nighttime takeoff @ Rarotonga Airport west end jet blast area
26:59 Rarotonga Cross-Island Track
28:04 Panorama from The Needle (Te Rua Manga)
28:57 Wigmore's Waterfall
29:39 Island Nights dance show @ the Edgewater Resort (5 dances)
48:09 Eastbound takeoff @ Rarotonga Airport east end jet blast area
48:54 Pacific Resort beach, Rarotonga
49:15 New Zealand girls on beachside rope swing @ Koka Lagoon Cruises, Muri Beach
52:06 Eastbound landing @ Rarotonga Airport west end jet blast area
52:55 Westbound takeoff @ Rarotonga Airport east end jet blast area (I was blown to the ground from the jet blast!)
55:09 Taking off from Rarotonga Airport & bidding farewell to the Cook Islands
56:40 Sunrise from my Bangkok to Tokyo flight




Feb. 24, 2014 -  Pics from my Feb. 15-22 Cook Islands vacation

Here is just a small sample of the 253 pics waiting for you in my Cook Islands album @ Flickr. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the sights I was blessed with in this tropical South Pacific paradise! Video and webpage to follow shortly...


 Cook Islands collage
View all 253 Cook Islands pics in my Flickr album here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolffman/sets/72157641539142933/




Feb. 12, 2014 - Air New Zealand unveils sexy safety video starring Sports Illustrated swimsuit models

Air New Zealand today released to the viewing public its latest inflight safety video "Safety in Paradise" featuring famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit models frolicking on the picture-perfect beach shores of Cook Islands, a 15-island nation in the South Pacific.

Instead of using traditional flight attendants, Air New Zealand's latest inflight safety video features four drop-dead, good-looking Sports Illustrated models to point out how to use the airplane's safety features. Cook Islands natives are also featured in the video, garbed in their traditional outfits.

Partnering with Sports Illustrated, Air New Zealand's sexy video also marks the 50th anniversary of the magazine's famous annual swimsuit issue. These are some gorgeous women! Check it out! smiley



  Air New Zealand's new sexy safety video
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Feb. 9, 2014 - Beatles flashback: 50th anniversary of their 1st appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show

Fifty years ago today on Sun. night, February 9th, 1964, The Beatles invaded America and made their first American television appearance LIVE on The Ed Sullivan Show, setting "Beatlemania" into full motion. I, along with a record setting 73 million other people (most of them screaming girls), tuned in that evening, making it one of the most historic moments in U.S. television history.

I can honestly say that that 1-hr TV show still ranks among the top 5 events in my entire lifetime. Not long after that earth-shaking night, I got an electric guitar, grew out my hair a little long, and became a full-fledged Beatlemaniac. smiley And in the 5 decades that have now passed, I've never stopped being a big fan of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, & Ringo Starr.

My favorite song of the 5 they performed that Sun. night was the final one, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which still remains one of my favorite Beatles songs to this day. The video clip below captures the excitement of that night fairly well. Long live The Beatles! FIFTY YEARS! WOW! smiley



 The Beatles' first U.S. TV appearance LIVE on
The Ed Sullivan Show, Sun. night, Feb. 9, 1964
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)


"When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best frigging group in the goddamn world.  And believin' in that was what made us what we were. And it was just a matter of time before everyone else caught on."

--John Lennon, in his reflection on the growing popularity of the Fab Four when they first started taking the world by storm--




Feb. 8, 2014 - Tokyo Snow Day! The heaviest snowfall in the nation's capital in 45 years!!

Today will go down as BIG HISTORY in Japan's capital. Snow accumulation reached 27 cm (10.6 in), the heaviest snowfall in Tokyo since January 1969.

After the first heavy snowfall warning for central Tokyo in 13 years, more than 740 flights were cancelled and more than 40,000 households lost power in large areas of central and eastern Japan.

Nationwide, the heavy snow and severe weather resulted in 3,200 accidents caused by vehicles skidding in the icy conditions, leaving 3 dead and more than 500 injured, including 17 seriously.

Additional disruption included the temporary suspension of Shinkansen bullet train service, the closing of some sections of expressways, and several Tokyo universities having to delay the starting times of their entrance examinations for the new academic year starting in April.

Source: Japan Times


Tokyo Snow Day - Feb. 8, 2014
Tokyo Snow Day - Feb. 8, 2014
The full 63-photo album is here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolffman/sets/72157640703311984/


Feb. 7, 2014 - Menopausal Women at the Mall

Road rage and class war escalate into a demolition derby at the local mall. Way too much testosterone! smiley


menopausal women
View video @ YouTube here. Priceless!! smiley




Feb. 2, 2014 - A TRUE Super Bowl wife !!

A woman sat down at her seat on the 50-yard line for the Super Bowl. A man came along and asked her if anyone was sitting in the seat next to her. "No," she said, "the seat is empty."

"This is incredible," said the man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?"

Somberly, the woman says, "Well... the seat belongs to my husband. He and I were to come here together, but he passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we have not been to together since we got married in '57."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else - a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?"

The woman shakes her head, "No, they're all at the funeral."




Feb. 1, 2014 - Three decades on, Tokyo bluesman is still rambling: Mississippi native, "Rambling" Steve Gardner, takes roots music and history worldwide, and brings Southern comfort to Fukushima

Maybe, as the saying goes, “you can’t go home again,” but you can take a little bit of home with you wherever you roam. “Rambling” Steve Gardner does; a Mississippi roots and bluesman based in Tokyo, Gardner travels the world making music and giving seminars about musical history.

The irony of the contrast between his small-town Southern background and global perspective doesn’t escape him, but with a good-natured grin, he savors the contradiction.

“Coming to Japan in the 1980s as a foreigner, I felt, early on, that sudden awareness of my own country as an outsider, and I felt a little shameful, growing up in Mississippi and looking at the hard and dark record of race relations my state has,” he says. “You carry with you a genuine stigma, if you are at all aware of things. But my trump card as a musician in Japan was the very fact that I was from Mississippi.”... (read more)


Mississippi native, Rambling Steve Gardner
Soul man: "I was able to be a side player, and I liked it," explains "Rambling" Steve Gardner, recalling his days supporting the likes of Ben E. King in Japan. "Those guys on top, they need guys like me to hold them up. . . . I like being one of the tires on the car, as long as there's lots of air in the tires and a good driver behind the wheel."
(Photo credit: Steve Gardner)




Jan. 31, 2014 - Frozen Sweets under the Moon

Ice jewelry that is not available for commercial sale. Ice in the Tokachi River in Hokkaido is broken into blocks that flow to the Pacific Ocean, their corners rounded by the waves. This process produces delicious-looking ice that is tossed up onto the beach.


Tokachi River ice blocks
Photo credit: att.Japan magazine
©Masaaki Aihara




Jan. 29, 2014 - Cultural Presentation Day

Foreign exchange university students in Japan make cultural comparisons between various countries in areas like festivals, food, friendships, keyboard typing methods, and differences in public displays of affection.



Cultural Presentation Day - Jan. 29, 2014
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

 0:00 Comparison of Festivals in China & Japan
 9:45 Cultural Comparison of Japan, Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, & Sweden
27:10 Comparison of Keyboard Typing Methods in Taiwan & Japan
40:12 Comparison of Festivals in Thailand, Japan, America, & China




Jan. 21, 2014 - Sexy Japanese Dancers @ the Gold's Gym Shinnenkai (ゴールドジム の新年会)

Gold's Gym dance class members perform at the Tokyo gym's 16th annual New Year's party (第16回新年会) to the tune of Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca." WOW!



(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Jan. 19, 2014 - Texas-shaped house

Some people take this Texas stuff really, really seriously. Only in Texas... smiley


Texas-shaped house




Jan. 17, 2014 - 19 Mind-Blowing Tricks Every iPhone And iPad User Should Know

You spend, like, half of your life on that thing. Time to figure out what it really does. I think I like Trick 15 best, allowing you to quickly switch back and forth between the alpha and numeric keyboards.






Jan. 12, 2014 - Let's MOVE!

"We all try to be busy instead of being alive, busy instead of getting out and breathing, busy sending useless texts instead of walking in the woods with our kids or introducing them to life's joys. We move information instead of simply moving," says Arc'teryx athlete Will Gadd in this ode to action and movement. Acknowledging how hard it is to carve out time for exercise in our daily lives, Gadd's passionate words remind us how important it is to get outside, breathe hard, and create meaning through movement. After all, as Gadd says, "Life's more fun when you move."



(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Jan. 10, 2014 - Sayonara Venus, our evening 'star'

Sadly, Venus, our brightest planet, has disappeared as our evening 'star.' It is about to pass between us and the sun on January 11, 2014. Venus will reappear in the eastern dawn in the second half of January 2014, when together with Jupiter – our two brightest planets – will appear as bright bookends in the morning sky, with Venus rising as Jupiter sets.






Jan. 9, 2014 - Three Deadly Reasons to Stay off Mt. Fuji in Winter

● Avalanche: Mt. Fuji is the perfect domain for avalanches due to its steep slope and lack of vegetation. When a slab of ice breaks free, hikers are pummeled against snow, ice, and trees and buried as if encased in wet concrete.
● Winds: Strong winds literally blow climbers off the slippery slopes. There have been several cases of tents flying off of the slopes with their occupants onboard.
● Hypothermia: Though not limited to the off-season, hyperthermia is a life-threatening condition that proves fatal if not diagnosed and treated properly. It is the result of a hiker's core body temperature dropping and internal organs succumbing to the cold.






Jan. 4, 2014 - Al Gore Forecasted “Ice-Free” Arctic by 2013; Ice Cover Expands 50%


Al Gore
"The planet has a fever."
--Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr.--

"In 2007, 2008, and 2009, Gore publicly and very hysterically warned that the North Pole would be 'ice-free' by around 2013 because of alleged 'man-made global warming.'

Well, 2013 has finished, and contrary to the alarmist 'predictions' by Gore and what critics refer to as his 'doomsday cult,' the latest satellite data show that Arctic ice cover has actually expanded 50 percent over 2012 levels. In fact, during October, sea-ice levels grew at the fastest pace since records began in 1979.

Of course, by now, virtually everyone who has been following news about 'global warming' — now more often referred to as 'climate change' owing to public-relations concerns — also knows that global temperatures have not risen for some 17 years."

Source: The New American




Jan. 1, 2014 - Jacquie Lawson's stunning New Year's animated greeting card

This absolutely amazing animated New Year's greeting card by famed UK graphics design artist Jacquie Lawson was sent to me by a Tokyo friend, and features fireworks celebrations in Sydney, Moscow, Paris, London, & New York City. Click photo or link below to view this beautiful animated New Year's card. Wow....

New Year's greeting card
Jacquie Lawson New Year's greeting card
http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=4572241549241




Jan. 1, 2014 - Hatsuhinode (初日の出) 2014, my first sunrise of the New Year

I'm sure some of my friends will think this is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but after all these years of living in Japan, I still think it's really cool how many Japanese like to kick off the New Year by viewing the first sunrise, a custom known as Hatsuhinode (初日の出):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_New_Year (scroll down to "Firsts of the new year" section)

The video below is of the one I saw @ 6:50 a.m.

The background music, George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun," is sung by Brooke White, an American indie pop singer-songwriter from Arizona who was the 5th place finalist in the 7th season of American Idol.

Happy New Year, everybody...



(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)







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Website Updates

Jul 27, 2014

Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog keeps you up-to-date with my everyday life in Japan, as well as recent additions/changes to the garyjwolff.com website.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog"

Jul 25, 2014

Mt. Senjo-ga-take (仙丈ヶ岳) and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake (甲斐駒ヶ岳), Japan's 18th & 24th highest peaks

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 1997 climb of Mt. Senjo-ga-take and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake in the Southern Japan Alps.

Continue reading "Mt. Senjo-ga-take (仙丈ヶ岳) and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake (甲斐駒ヶ岳), Japan's 18th & 24th highest peaks"

Jul 25, 2014

Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳) and Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳), Japan's 4th & 16th Highest Mountains

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Sept. 1996 climb of Mt. Ai-no-dake (3189m) and Mt. Shiomi-dake, 3047m, Japan's 4th & 16th highest mountains.

Continue reading "Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳) and Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳), Japan's 4th & 16th Highest Mountains"

Jul 25, 2014

Mt. Notori-dake (農鳥岳) and the Shiranesanzan (白根三山)

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 2011 climb of Mt. Notori-dake and the Shiranesanzan in the Southern Japan Alps.

Continue reading "Mt. Notori-dake (農鳥岳) and the Shiranesanzan (白根三山)"

Jul 25, 2014

Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Oct. 1993 hike to the top of the easily accessible Mt. Kita-dake, elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd highest mountain.

Continue reading "Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain"

Jul 24, 2014

How easy is it to get from Mt. Fuji to other places in Japan?

Does one have to go back to Tokyo for continuing to Kyoto, Nagoya, or Osaka or is it possible to take buses or train to other cities in Japan?

Continue reading "How easy is it to get from Mt. Fuji to other places in Japan?"

Jul 23, 2014

UEC Technical English Resources

Continue reading "UEC Technical English Resources"

Jul 16, 2014

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest mountain and the most visited mountain in the world, along with climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)"

Jul 16, 2014

Can Fujinomiya trail mountain huts be booked or do you just turn up to them?

Hey Gary! Thanks so much for sharing your Mt. Fuji climbing experience, it's really inspiring and has just further solidified my desire to climb it! I'll

Continue reading "Can Fujinomiya trail mountain huts be booked or do you just turn up to them?"

Jul 15, 2014

Is it safe to climb Mt. Fuji during 50-60 km/h winds?

Dear Gary, Thank you for the very comprehensive information about mountains and hiking in Japan. I'm planning to climb Mt Fuji and it seems that the dates

Continue reading "Is it safe to climb Mt. Fuji during 50-60 km/h winds?"

Jul 14, 2014

Mt. Fuji Mountain Huts (富士山の山小屋)

Listing of Mt. Fuji mountain huts for the main Yoshida trail, along with website addresses, phone numbers, elevations, and sleeping capacities.

Continue reading "Mt. Fuji Mountain Huts (富士山の山小屋)"

Jul 12, 2014

"Climbing Mt. Fuji" book

Climbing Mt. Fuji details info on climbing trails, transport access, fun facts & recent news stories, and select Q&A from the author's website.

Continue reading ""Climbing Mt. Fuji" book"

Jul 10, 2014

Can you backpack a 3-yr-old to the summit of Mt. Fuji, if taking off from the 5th station?

We have a nice hiking backpack, and was wondering if anyone has ever tried to hike their toddler to the top of Mt. Fuji?

Continue reading "Can you backpack a 3-yr-old to the summit of Mt. Fuji, if taking off from the 5th station?"

Jul 07, 2014

Can we go to the Mt. Fuji 5th Station with a 2-year-old?

Is there any problem taking small children up to the 5th Station?

Continue reading "Can we go to the Mt. Fuji 5th Station with a 2-year-old?"

Jul 06, 2014

When will Mt. Fuji's Gotemba Trail open this year?

I'm getting mixed messages. Will the Gotemba route open July 10th this year? Thanks, Jen

Continue reading "When will Mt. Fuji's Gotemba Trail open this year?"

Jul 02, 2014

When will the post office on Mt. Fuji's summit be open?

Hi Gary, Do you know if Mt. Fuji's summit post office will open at the same time as the Shizuoka Prefecture side of Mt. Fuji, i.e. July 10th (for 2014)?

Continue reading "When will the post office on Mt. Fuji's summit be open?"

Jun 28, 2014

Will Yoshida trail amenities, buses, etc. still run up until the 9/14 closing date?

Hi Gary, I'm planning a trip to Japan in September and this site is proving very useful for the Fujiyama part! A quick clarification, when you say the

Continue reading "Will Yoshida trail amenities, buses, etc. still run up until the 9/14 closing date?"

Jun 27, 2014

Climbing Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail (富士宮登山道)

Pics, video, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 2012 climb of Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail, the shortest route to the highest point in Japan.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail (富士宮登山道)"

Jun 27, 2014

Are there places to rent gear (i.e. hiking boots, warm jackets) as I have limited luggage capacity.

Dear C. Klipp, You might want to consider the rental gear service offered thru Fuji Mountain Guides: https://www.fujimountainguides.com/mount-fuji-rentals-for-all.html

Continue reading "Are there places to rent gear (i.e. hiking boots, warm jackets) as I have limited luggage capacity."

Jun 24, 2014

Is that the normal life in Australia?

Today's theme is the story of my friend in Australia. My Korean friend Hyeon lived in Australia 2 years ago. So, I will tell you about her interesting

Continue reading "Is that the normal life in Australia?"

Jun 22, 2014

Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳) Mountain Climbing Accidents

A few news stories of recent Mt. Shirouma-dake mountain climbing accidents, including in Daisekkei Valley.

Continue reading "Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳) Mountain Climbing Accidents"

Jun 22, 2014

Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳), elev. 2932m, Japan's 26th Highest Mountain

Despite being a relatively easy climb, Mt. Shirouma-dake is without question one of Japan's most dangerous peaks, claiming lives just about every year.

Continue reading "Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳), elev. 2932m, Japan's 26th Highest Mountain"

Jun 13, 2014

Safe to climb Mt. Fuji on Sept. 16, 2 days after the official season ends?

Hello Gary, First, thank you for your site! it's really helpful! :) Second, I wanted to ask a question. Me and my sister will arrive at Mt. Fuji on Sep.

Continue reading "Safe to climb Mt. Fuji on Sept. 16, 2 days after the official season ends?"

Jun 13, 2014

How do you go to the toilet?

Please note, however, that even though the main Yoshida Trail will be open to the summit as of July 1, all huts, restrooms, and other facilities above

Continue reading "How do you go to the toilet?"

Jun 11, 2014

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

The latest news updates about the strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 11, 2011, including maps, photos, and videos.

Continue reading "Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami"

Jun 06, 2014

Could you recommend some clean onsen hotels near Fujiyoshida or Lake Kawaguchi?

Gary, I appreciate all the work you've done on your website. I am impressed! I have been working with a travel agent for weeks and she's still not arranged

Continue reading "Could you recommend some clean onsen hotels near Fujiyoshida or Lake Kawaguchi? "

Jun 06, 2014

2014 main Yoshida trail opening on track?

Hi Gary, Do you think the 2014 trail opening is still on track for July 1st 2014 for the main Yoshida trail? I know that earlier in the year there were

Continue reading "2014 main Yoshida trail opening on track?"

Jun 06, 2014

If we climb up for the sunset, will we have enough time to get back down before dark?

If my husband and I climb up for the sunset, will we have enough time to get back down before dark? This would be during the last week In August 2014.

Continue reading "If we climb up for the sunset, will we have enough time to get back down before dark? "

May 31, 2014

Mt. Norikura-dake (乗鞍岳), elev. 3026m, Japan's 19th highest mountain

Along with 7 wild Japanese guys in June 1993, we hiked w/ ski boots & poles to the summit of Mt. Norikura-dake, elev. 3026m, and then skied down.

Continue reading "Mt. Norikura-dake (乗鞍岳), elev. 3026m, Japan's 19th highest mountain"

May 27, 2014

Where to start climbing Mt. Fuji from the base?

hello. i think a big part of doing this for me is to -do it-. i want to climb the whole thing, not just from the popular station 5 to top. is it possible

Continue reading "Where to start climbing Mt. Fuji from the base?"

May 24, 2014

Cook Islands Travel

Pics, video, map, & more of my Feb. 2014 Cook Islands travel, including the Rarotonga Punanga Nui Market, Cross-Island Track, & Maire Nui Gardens.

Continue reading "Cook Islands Travel"

May 22, 2014

360-degree Panorama from the Summit of Mt. Whitney

22-year-old 360-degree panorama from summit of Mt. Whitney made from 16 pics spliced together

Continue reading "360-degree Panorama from the Summit of Mt. Whitney"

May 22, 2014

"The View from the Top of Japan" book

The View from the Top of Japan book details Gary’s 2-decade-long journey to the summits of the 25 highest mountains in Japan, including pics and maps.

Continue reading ""The View from the Top of Japan" book"

May 18, 2014

Gary J. Wolff (in Tokyo, Japan)

Longtime Tokyo resident Gary J. Wolff shares his uniquely American perspective of Japan's fascinating culture, including regular photographic updates.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff (in Tokyo, Japan)"

May 14, 2014

Kita-dake day-trip from Kofu possible?

Relying entirely on public transport, is it possible to climb Kita-dake as a day trip from Kofu? You mentioned in one of the comments a 4:20am bus from

Continue reading "Kita-dake day-trip from Kofu possible?"

May 12, 2014

Mt. Tateyama (立山) & Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳), Japan's 20th & 22nd Highest Mountains

Mt. Tateyama (立山), elev. 3015 m, and Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳), elev. 2999m, are without question two ofthe mostspectacular mountains in the Northern Japan Alps, if not in all ofJapan.

Continue reading "Mt. Tateyama (立山) & Mt. Tsurugi-dake (剣岳), Japan's 20th & 22nd Highest Mountains"

May 12, 2014

How is climbing Mt. Tateyama and Mt. Tsurugi-dake in mid-June?

Would you happen to know the actual climbing conditions in mid-June? I've read that Tateyama is open from April, but I also heard there would still be

Continue reading "How is climbing Mt. Tateyama and Mt. Tsurugi-dake in mid-June?"

May 04, 2014

Tips on where to rent/buy gears (like sleeping bags, tent, headlamps) around Tokyo?

Hello! My name is Jane and I am an Indonesian student who just came to Japan to study Japanese in a particular university in Tokyo. So, I have hiked a

Continue reading "Tips on where to rent/buy gears (like sleeping bags, tent, headlamps) around Tokyo?"

May 04, 2014

Can we climb Mt. Fuji around 20 June 2014?

Hello! I saw your post on Mt. Fuji! I'm actually a student touring Japan before my summer school starts. So my friends and I can only climb Mt. Fuji around

Continue reading "Can we climb Mt. Fuji around 20 June 2014?"

May 04, 2014

Can you climb Mt. Fuji from Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya?

Do you know if you are able to start climbing from Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya? I heard that it is only roads until the 5th station, then you can climb.

Continue reading "Can you climb Mt. Fuji from Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya?"

May 04, 2014

Advice on the direction I should take coming down Mt. Fuji and heading to Hiroshima?

I found your website somehow and it is full of great and useful information, which I deeply appreciate. Since you seem pretty knowledgeable, can you give

Continue reading "Advice on the direction I should take coming down Mt. Fuji and heading to Hiroshima? "

May 04, 2014

Useful iPad Tools for the EFL Teacher

This article identifies a few of the most useful iPad tools for EFL teachers and describes how they are actually being used in and out of the classroom.

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May 01, 2014

Fiji Travel

Pics, video, map, & more details of my February 2013 Fiji travel, including Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji, South Sea Island, Natadola Beach, & Nadi Town.

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May 01, 2014

Fall Colors in Yoro Keikoku Valley (養老渓谷)

Pics, maps, & trail description of my Dec. 5, 2010 hike to view the gorgeous fall colors in the Yoro Keikaku Valley on the Boso Peninsula, Chiba.

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Apr 25, 2014

Happy Birthday to You !!

Gary’s special Happy Birthday page has been updated with new colorful, animated Happy Birthday cards & a cute video of singing & dancing penguins!

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Apr 12, 2014

Pacific Islands Travel, including Cebu, Koh Samui, Palau, Guam, Saipan, Langkawi, Phuket, & Fiji

Stories, pics, and videos of my Pacific islands travel to Cebu, Koh Samui, Palau, Guam, Saipan, Langkawi, Phuket, Fiji, & the Cook Islands.

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Apr 02, 2014

Mt. Hijiri-dake (聖岳), elev. 3013m, Japan's 21st Highest Mountain

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 1998 climb of Mt. Hijiri-dake (elev. 3013m), Japan's 21st highest mountain, in the Southern Japan Alps.

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Apr 01, 2014

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, Oct.-Dec. 2010

Posts include pics of Mt. Kita-dake, the beautiful fall colors of Yoro Keikoku Valley, and pics/videos of a number of my acting/modeling gigs in Tokyo.

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Apr 01, 2014

Acting and Modeling in Tokyo

Some samples of acting & modeling roles possible for foreigners in Tokyo, along with a short list of some of the reputable Tokyo talent agencies.

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New Book Release!
new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
Now available at
Amazon, Smashwords,
Apple iTunes, and
booksellers worldwide

(eBook now on sale for only $2.99 until the end of Mt. Fuji climbing season on Sept. 14!)




Tokyo Weather/Sky
Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast
Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast






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Gary J. Wolff


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