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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.





Sept. 24, 2016 - Video of GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip


GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

 0:00 Smokey Bear Historical Park museum, Capitan, New Mexico
 1:13 Headwaters of the Pecos River, Cowles, New Mexico
 1:48 Runners receiving cheers after Pikes Peak Ascent, Manitou Springs, Colorado
 2:38 Tom preparing BBQ Mexican tacos
 3:24 Wind turbines in southeast Wyoming
 3:57 Horse-drawn stagecoach in Jackson, Wyoming
 4:21 Eruption of Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
 8:04 Inside Lake Yellowstone Hotel lobby, Yellowstone National Park
 8:28 Mud Volcano, Yellowstone National Park
 9:17 Lower Falls (from Artist Point), Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
 9:39 BIG buffalo walking down the highway, Yellowstone National Park
10:27 Upper Falls, viewed from Uncle Tom's Parking Area, Yellowstone National Park
11:08 Brink of the Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park
12:54 Glacier Park Lodge, E. Glacier, Montana
13:33 Mountain stream on Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
14:11 Aster Falls, Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park
14:52 Grizzly bear sow with her 2 cubs, Hwy. 2, just west of E. Glacier
15:38 Musician Benjamin from Austin, performing in Glacier Park Lodge
18:28 Amtrak train, departing eastbound from West Glacier railroad depot
19:37 Gödöllő, Hungary sub-camp of Area 3 during the 1967 Boy Scout World Jamboree, Farragut State Park, Idaho
20:06 Flock of wild turkeys near Scott Field in Farragut State Park
21:23 Ranger Lisa leading the Fiery Furnace Tour in Arches National Park, Utah
22:06 Grand View Point Overlook, Island in the Sky district, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
22:33 Horseshoe Bend Overlook, Colorado River, Glen Canyon, Arizona
23:54 Wahweap Overlook, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Hwy. 89 north of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona
24:32 Ranger Rachel leading the 8:30 am Nature Walk near the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center, Arizona
25:50 Texaz Grill steakhouse, Phoenix, Arizona
26:35 Max's Sports Bar, Glendale, Arizona
27:10 Phoenix Texas Exes, Football Game Watch Party vs. Notre Dame, Thirsty Lion Sports Bar, Tempe, Arizona
30:39 Piestewa Peak hiking trail, Phoenix, Arizona
32:24 Valley Metro light rail train station, N. 19th Ave. @ W. Northern Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona
33:19 Live country music band & children's slide, Rustler's Rooste, South Mountain, Phoenix
34:12 Entrance ramp meter traffic lights, southbound I-17, Phoenix
34:26 Interpretive trail signs, Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona
35:56 Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
36:51 Brian entertaining us with his guitar
39:08 New Mexico landscape panorama
39:26 Highlights from the 263-acre Windlinger Ranch in the beautiful Texas hill country




Sept. 18, 2016 - GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip

It was an absolutely amazing trip...28 days, nearly 7700 miles, 8 states, 10 national parks, and an uncountable number of national forests... connecting with my past & visiting places thru the years where I've lived, worked, and camped out as a Boy Scout.

I hope you enjoy my nearly 800 pics @ Flickr. Cheers!

Arches National Park
Arches National Park, Utah
GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip
Aug. 15 - Sept. 11, 2016




Aug. 4, 2016 - YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN TEXAS IN AUGUST WHEN...

  • Trees are whistling for dogs.
  • The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance. 
  • Hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
  • You discover that it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
  • You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m. 
  • Ah, what a place to call home.
  • God bless the great State of Texas!



July 31, 2016 - In Loving Memory of Don Davis

Three years ago today our wonderful, longtime American friend went to be with the Lord at the ripe young age of only 60, after fighting a brief illness in a Tokyo hospital. Don was one of the most gracious human beings one could ever know, and was a longtime entertainer for young Japanese children in English education stage shows conducted in public halls all over Japan.

I finally got around to building a memorial page for him. Click link to read more of his story, see some pics, and view a short video: In Loving Memory of Don Davis

 
Don Davis collage
In Loving Memory of Don Davis
June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013




July 27, 2016 - At last! The solution.

At last! The solution.
"Do you mind if I strap your phone to my forehead so I can pretend you're looking at me when I talk?"




July 25, 2016 - あぶない (danger)!!

Don't go in the sea or you will be swallowed by a giant wave (or a whale) (or a great white shark)!! smiley

Don't go in the sea
あぶない (danger)!! Don't go in the sea.




July 17, 2016 - The "What’s New? Line Game"

In my quarter-century of teaching Japanese learners of English in Tokyo, one of the most popular activities in my university classes has been a warm-up exercise at the beginning of class called "What's New?"

Students are given 5-10 minutes to discuss with their classmates anything of interest in their lives since the last class.

Students enjoy this very relaxed and motivating method...

Read more at: The "What's New? Line Game"




July 15, 2016 - Target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ) tournament

Ever heard of target bird golf? Well, neither had I until I made this video a few years ago. But it looks like a LOT of fun, using a badminton shuttlecock as the "ball." Only in Japan! smiley



Target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ) tournament
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




July 9, 2016 - It's Mt. Fuji climbing season!!

The official 72-day Mt. Fuji climbing season officially began last Friday on July 1st, with the opening of the main Yoshida Trail from Yamanashi Prefecture.

This route serves Tokyo & most foreign tourists and accounts for about 60% of the total Mt. Fuji climber traffic. The other 3 trails from Shizuoka Prefecture are scheduled to open tomorrow morning @ 9 am, and all 4 trails will close on Sat. Sept. 10.

Mt. Fuji at sunrise
Mt. Fuji at sunrise, taken from Kitadake-sanso, Aug. 14, 2011


If you're planning to climb Mt. Fuji, you'll definitely wanna check out my Climbing Mt. Fuji FAQ page. Four years ago it became the most visited page on my entire site, and as gracious site visitors have populated it with more & more of their stories & inquiries, it became so LONG last year that I had to break it down into 2 separate pages.

So far this month these 2 pages are receiving nearly 800 page views per day. Hoo wah!! Let's climb Fuji-san!

"If you come to Japan and don't climb Mt. Fuji, you're a fool; but if you climb it more than once, you're an even BIGGER fool."   smiley

--old Japanese proverb, especially tailored for gaijin--




July 6, 2016 - Japanese post office drop box with thatched roof

I spotted this on my way to work this morning. Never a dull moment in Japan! smiley


thatched roof Japanese post office drop box
Japanese post office drop box with thatched roof




June 26, 2016 - The mysterious vanishing Japanese ducks

Now you see them, now you don't. smiley



The mysterious vanishing Japanese ducks
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




June 19, 2016 - THE BIGGEST THREAT TO FATHERHOOD

"As we celebrate Father's Day, we should ponder the sad plight of the 20 million American children who are growing up without their fathers in the home. Among other unfortunate effects, the trends toward non-marriage.....are a direct attack on fathers.

The bond between a child and his mother is an obvious fact of nature, but marriage is the relationship that establishes the link between a child and his father.

There are many causes for the dramatic reduction in marriage, starting with unilateral (no-fault) divorce, which spread across the United States in the 1960s and '70s, putting government on the side of marriage breakup.

Since the federal government created the child-support bureaucracy, the majority of divorces have been initiated by women.

They confidently expect that pro-feminist family courts will award them a steady income for which they will never be held accountable.

The more child support that divorced fathers are ordered to pay, the more federal funds flow through the hands of the states, which compete for federal bonuses given to states that collect the most child support.

It is profitable to state bureaucrats to make sure that fathers are permitted to see their own children only a few days per month, so support payments can be set at the highest possible level.

Women have discovered they can use a request for an Order of Protection against their husband as "the gamesmanship of divorce" (in the words of the Illinois Bar Journal) in order to get sole child custody plus generous so-called "child support."

It's easy to get such orders without any evidence of abuse or even a threat, without notice to the husband and with no danger of prosecution for perjury.

Federal and state laws and subsidies that undermine marriage are the biggest fiscal as well as cultural issue of our times."

Phyllis Schlafly
June 14, 2011

*********


God bless all the wonderful fathers in the world, especially those who've made the ultimate sacrifice to help keep our world safe. Here's a tribute to my own dad, a world-famous softball pitcher, who went to be with the Lord in 2004: http://walterwolff.com/

Walter Wolff, softball pitcher, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Walter Wolff strikes out 17 straight hitters and 20 of 21 for the game as Metallic of Houston defeated Yazoo, Mississippi 3-0 in a 1965 tournament in Lake Charles, Louisiana. (American Press staff photo by Sam Guillory)




June 17, 2016 - 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.

16.6.12 speech contest
Japanese university English speech contest finalists
(ALL WOMEN!) smiley




June 10, 2016 - Are you a Twit Face? smiley


Are you a Twit Face?




June 4, 2016 - I'm famous! (ha-ha) smiley

Yours truly will appear in next month's (July) issue of Japan Up! magazine, a free English publication widely distributed in Japanese restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores in the Los Angeles, California area introducing authentic Japanese cuisine, trends, and culture. Hoo wah!! smiley

Gary J. Wolff - Japan Up! magazine
Gary J. Wolff, Japan Up! magazine, July 2016
(click image above to view entire article)




May 27, 2016 - 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 7th consecutive year, on Sunday, May 22, 2016 I had the pleasure of helping judge a university student English speech contest sponsored by my university's ESS (English Speaking Society). These 2nd-year students were truly amazing, sacrificing an entire day to give by memory in front of 100 people a 7-min. speech which they composed themselves.

2016.5.22 Meiji speech contest 1

2016.5.22 Meiji speech contest 2

2016.5.22 Meiji speech contest 3




May 20, 2016 - Mt. Ushiokunogangaharasuriyama (牛奥ノ雁ヶ腹摺山)

Is this possibly the longest mountain name in all of Japan?

This pic was posted recently in the "Hiking in Japan" Facebook group, and having scaled 38 of Japan's 50 tallest peaks, it really jolted my attention. Loosely translated, I believe it means "Rubbing the belly of a wild goose inside a cow" Mountain. Wow, how funny! smiley

For anyone interested in hiking to the top of this 1990m peak in Yamanashi Prefecture which offers an excellent panoramic view of Mt. Fuji, here's some information in Japanese including route map and here's the Google Map.

Mt. Ushiokunogangaharasuri
Mt. Ushiokunogangaharasuriyama
(Photo credit: Lan Jin)

p.s. This reminds me of a story written by a Japanese university student a few years ago about the longest train station name in the world, the "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch" train station in Wales. Wow!




May 13, 2016 - Tokyo's famous train riding cat

A cool cat has brought fame to Tokyo's otherwise ordinary Seibu Ikebukuro Line, bringing plenty of smiles to commuters & animal lovers, many of whom get on just to have a chance of meeting this very special feline passenger. 

Apparently, the cat travels on his own and decides where to get on & off. And it is said that the cat has even learned proper train etiquette, keeping himself neatly in a compact manner to save room for other passengers to sit, yet taking the liberty to spread out for a nice cat nap when the train isn't so packed.

Generally, in Japan animal carriers are required for pets on trains, however, for the time being, the Seibu Ikebukuro Line seems to be turning a blind eye to this popular feline commuter.

Source: http://www.lovemeow.com/feline-1708143982.html (click open to see more cute cat pics)

Tokyo's train riding cat
Tokyo's famous train riding cat
(Photo credit: Twitter: @manpukuoya)




May 4, 2016 - Have you noticed that bright orange "star" in the lower southeast sky?

The red planet Mars is often difficult to see, as it’s not a very large planet. But every 2 years, around the time we pass between Mars and the sun, the planet brightens dramatically and becomes a splendid sight in our night sky. That’s happening right now.

In fact, we’re now less than a month away from the planet’s May 22 opposition, when Earth will pass between Mars and the sun. When Mars then reaches its crest of brightness, it will have quadrupled in brilliance since the beginning of April.

Mars is easy to spot in the lower southeast sky, and although it's not so bright, you can also see Saturn a little down to the left of Mars, as well as Antares, one of the sky’s brightest stars in the constellation Scorpius, almost directly below Mars. In early May, Mars rises at about 9 p.m. local time at mid-northern latitudes.

2016 is a grand year for seeing Mars. The best months for Mars viewing in 2016 are May and June. But the planet remains bright throughout the summer of 2016. Don't miss it!

Mars, Saturn, & Antares
Mars, Saturn, & Antares, May 2016

[Note: Because Fri. 5/6 is the new moon, the next week is a good time to see Mars in a dark sky without any interference from a bright moon.]




May 4, 2016 - Japanese windmill house (風車の家)

While out on my mountain bike during Golden Week a few years ago, the highlight of that day was to run across an elderly lady's home adorned by an uncountable number of handmade windmills (kazaguruma, 風車). As you can see in the video below, most of these windmills are made from aluminum drink cans and PET bottles. According to the nice lady, making these amazing windmills is her son's hobby.


Japanese windmill house (風車の家)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




May 2, 2016 - Can you tell that it's azalea season in Tokyo? smiley

Just LOVE this color! The 2016 Bunkyo Azalea Festival at Nezu Shrine, one of the best places to view azaleas in Tokyo, runs thru Thurs. 5/5.

Tokyo azaleas
Tokyo azaleas




May 1, 2016 - Sumo's all-time winningest wrestler hawks Mickey D's new Grand Big Mac

Mongolian yokozuna grand champion sumo wrestler Hakuho, the most successful sumo wrestler in Japanese sumo history, is the new poster boy for Mickey D's Grand Big Mac. And having twice tried it myself, although the taste I believe is exactly the same as a Big Mac, I can assure you that this burger is truly GRAND!! Forget the fries or other side orders, as it's a meal all by itself. smiley

Hakuho & McDonald's Japan's new Grand Big Mac
Hakuho & McDonald's Japan's new Grand Big Mac




April 30, 2016 - Geisha girl bento

Japanese people are SO creative! But wait....isn't she a little too gorgeous to eat?!! smiley

Geisha girl bento
Geisha girl bento




April 28, 2016 - 35 flying koinobori (鯉幟, carp streamers) along the Edo River (江戸川) in Tokyo

It's that time of year in Japan again....GOLDEN WEEK!! To celebrate Children's Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi), May 5, one of the 4 national holidays during this week-long holiday period, "koinobori (鯉幟)," or carp streamers, are flown around the country in honor of Japanese children in the hope that they will grow up healthy, strong, & happy. These koinobori were flying along the banks of the Edo River (江戸川) on an absolutely gorgeous day in Tokyo.


35 flying koinobori (鯉幟, carp streamers)
along the Edo River (江戸川) in Tokyo
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 17, 2016 - Attention university students! The Odakyu Railway Co. is hiring.

And your dream job is waiting for you as a train station attendant. smiley Make up to ¥1,300(~$12)/hour if you're willing to brave the morning crush hour from 7:00-9:30 am. 

Odakyu Railway Co. help wanted poster
Odakyu Railway Co. help wanted poster
Tokyo, Japan




April 13, 2016 - Japanese mini-steam locomotive (ミニSL)

Wow, even a shinkansen! smiley In Gyotoku Ekimae Koen & operated the 2nd Sun. of every month (except August) by the Ichikawa Steam Railway Club. Google map for Gyotoku Ekimae park: http://g.co/maps/tbekf



Japanese mini-steam locomotive (ミニSL)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 9, 2016 - Stair climbing calorie consumption

Ever wondered exactly how many calories you burn up when walking up the stairs? Well, the Japanese have you covered. In fact, they have it down to an exact science in the famous Tokyu Hands household goods store in Shibuya, Tokyo.

From the B2 (2nd basement) floor all the way up to the top 6th floor, they've put the cumulative calories consumed on each stairstep! WOW! Only in Japan! smiley
 
kcal consumed while stair climbing
Calories consumed,
from bottom of B2 floor
kcal consumed while stair climbing
Calories consumed,
@ top of 6th floor

[Note: As for measurements of nutritional energy, Japan uses kilocalories (kcal), the metric unit for the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius. This equates to the term "Calorie" (with a capital 'C') used in America.]
 
Bonus question for extra credit: How many total stairsteps are there in the Tokyu Hands Shibuya store? smiley (The first person to post the correct answer in the comments section below is the winner!)




April 8, 2016 - Nihonbashi Sakura Dori light & music show

As part of the 2016 Nihonbashi Sakura Festival, visitors to the vibrant and historical Nihonbashi Sakura Dori between the Coredo Muromachi 1 and 2 restaurant and shopping complexes are being treated to an immersive projection mapping light and music show which wraps you in an authentic feeling of the sakura season, as if the cherry blossoms are snowing down upon you. 3/18(Fri)–4/10(Sun), 5:30-8:00pm



Nihonbashi Sakura Dori light & music show
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




April 1, 2016 - Cherry Blossom Season 2016

Yep, it's that time of year again! Even after a quarter-century in Japan, it never gets old. I wish we'd had a little more sunshine today, but some of my pics turned out pretty well anyways.

Please check out my 36-pic Flickr cherry blossom album if you get a chance. Chidorigafuchi Park, without question one of the most popular spots to view cherry blossoms in Tokyo (especially for the nighttime lightup), was stunning (and very CROWDED) as always.

Cherry Blossom Season 2016
Cherry Blossom Season 2016
(click link to see the other 35 pics in my Flickr album)







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Website Updates

Sep 24, 2016

Video of GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip

0:00 Smokey Bear Historical Park museum, Capitan, New Mexico, 1:13 Headwaters of the Pecos River, Cowles, New Mexico, 1:48 Runners receiving cheers after Pikes Peak Ascent, Manitou Springs, Colorado, etc...

Click link to view 43-minute YouTube video of my amazing 28-day, 7700-mile road trip around 8 western US states.

Continue reading "Video of GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip"

Sep 24, 2016

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"

Sep 23, 2016

Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo

A listing of the best high-rise spots in Tokyo to view Diamond Fuji with recommended dates, sunset times, admission fees, and links to Google maps.

Continue reading "Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo"

Sep 23, 2016

Mt. Kiso-koma-ga-take (木曽駒ヶ岳) and Mt. Utsugi-dake (空木岳), Japan's 25th & 42nd highest peaks

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 2002 climb of Mt. Kiso-koma-ga-take and Mt. Utsugi-dake in the Central Japan (Chuo) Alps.

Continue reading "Mt. Kiso-koma-ga-take (木曽駒ヶ岳) and Mt. Utsugi-dake (空木岳), Japan's 25th & 42nd highest peaks"

Sep 19, 2016

The Highest Mountains in Japan

Listing of the 25 highest mountains in Japan, complete with pics, videos, and descriptions, based on the 2-decade climbing experience of Gary J. Wolff.

Continue reading "The Highest Mountains in Japan"

Sep 19, 2016

Can we climb Mt. Fuji in October?

Hello Gary, we are looking at climbing Mt Fuji in the first week of October and have been doing some research on your site including reading the FAQ, i

Continue reading "Can we climb Mt. Fuji in October?"

Sep 19, 2016

GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip

It was an absolutely amazing trip...28 days, nearly 7700 miles, 8 states, 10 national parks, and an uncountable number of national forests... connecting with my past & visiting places thru the years where I've lived, worked, and camped out as a Boy Scout.

I hope you enjoy my nearly 800 pics @ Flickr. Cheers!

Continue reading "GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip"

Sep 18, 2016

Should we climb Mt. Fuji after the season is closed?

We booked Hut 7 for Monday night, but looks like pretty heavy rain on Tuesday. We have reasonable gear, but everyone says typhoon is coming. Any advice

Continue reading "Should we climb Mt. Fuji after the season is closed?"

Sep 09, 2016

Racing to the top of Mt. Fuji in 1971!

On August 11th, 1971 our Boy Scout Troop arrived at the base of Mt Fuji. We were in Japan for the 13th World Jamboree and our Scout Master, Mr Grubb had

Continue reading "Racing to the top of Mt. Fuji in 1971!"

Sep 03, 2016

Are Mt. Fuji descending trails open until Sept. 11, 2016?

Hi there, thanks for the great overview. Looking at the official site (http://www.fujisan-climb.jp/en/season) it seems the Yoshida descending trail is

Continue reading "Are Mt. Fuji descending trails open until Sept. 11, 2016?"

Aug 29, 2016

Is a 1-day hike up the Subashiri Trail compatible with the bus schedule?

Hello Gary, Thank you for putting together this website. We want to climb Mount Fuji during the day, Subashiri Trail starting from Gotemba. According

Continue reading "Is a 1-day hike up the Subashiri Trail compatible with the bus schedule?"

Aug 23, 2016

Are sleeping bags or bedding supplied in the Mt. Kita-dake huts?

Hi Gary, Would you be able to tell me please if sleeping bags or bedding is supplied in the huts? Thanks!

Continue reading "Are sleeping bags or bedding supplied in the Mt. Kita-dake huts?"

Aug 21, 2016

Following Subashiri Trail but staying at Ganso-Muro (Yoshida)

I am walking the Subashiri Trail I booked a place at Ganso-Muro (3250m) because It was the 8th station (and only place available) Today I was looking

Continue reading "Following Subashiri Trail but staying at Ganso-Muro (Yoshida) "

Aug 20, 2016

Mt. Fuji Lockers and Bathrooms

How big are the coin lockers at the 5th Station? I'm looking to stow a hiking backpack and just bring a small backpack of essentials. Will the lockers

Continue reading "Mt. Fuji Lockers and Bathrooms"

Aug 20, 2016

Climbing Mt. Fuji a few days after official close season

Hi Gary, I found your website extremely informative and helpful and I'd like to tap into your vast experience and local knowledge to find out a bit more

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji a few days after official close season"








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