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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.





June 29, 2015 -  Jupiter/Venus conjunction

Tomorrow night's the best night, but it wasn't too bad tonight. smiley

Jupiter - Venus 2015 conjunction
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.




June 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...




June 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 a party.

4-day crescent Moon, Jupiter, & Venus on June 20, 2015
4-day crescent Moon, Jupiter (left), & Venus (right) on June 20, 2015

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.




June 20, 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 is black." smiley

LOTS of silver-colored cars in Japan
There are LOTS of silver-colored cars in Japan!




June 10, 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.

2015.5.24 Meiji speech contest 3

2015.5.24 Meiji speech contest 1

2015.5.24 Meiji speech contest 2




June 6, 2015 -  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 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! smiley  



May 30, 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...





May 29, 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
TLT Chapter Events column, May/June 2015




May 22, 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 bodies.

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!

crescent moon & venus
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.




May 17, 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 ride! OMG!

[Warning: Watching this video may cause you to lose your lunch!!] smiley


Batman: The Ride 4D roller coaster
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)



May 16, 2015 - The tan lines of the next generation

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."




May 12, 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 you? 

But I don't have enough time
But I don't have enough time
(Image credit: Foundr Magazine)




May 5, 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 mid-summer.

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. 

2015 Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival
Click image above to view my 19-pic Flickr album
of the 2015 Nezu Shrine Azalea Festival.




May 4, 2015 - How do I access Classic Google Maps?

If like me, you're not that crazy about the new Google Maps, and would still like to access the classic version of Google Maps, here are some options.

These 2 links will take you to a Classic Google Map, but I wouldn't hold your breath on how much longer they'll be available:

- https://maps.google.com/maps?output=classi
- https://www.google.com/lochp

Another option is to sign the change.org petition to Google CEO Larry Page to bring back Classic Google Maps:  https://www.change.org/p/larry-page-ceo-google-tell-google-bring-back-classic-google-maps

At the moment, the petition has 2,632 signers and needs 2,368 more to reach the goal of 5,000 supporters. Let's do it!

Bring back Classic Google Maps
Please sign petition to
Bring Back Classic Google Maps




May 2, 2015 - Austin, Texas sucks

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 seen.

So this poster is a comical, tongue-in-cheek attempt by locals to somehow stem the tide. smiley

Austin, Texas sucks
(Image credit: kamvasart.com)




April 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 tournaments.

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. GO AKEBONO!!

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akebono_Tarō)

Akebono Taro - Champion Carnival
Japan pro wrestler Akebono Tarō




April 18, 2015 - Bye-bye Obama Countdown Clock







April 15, 2015 - Download the entire internet onto your hard disk.

Click HERE to download the entire internet onto your hard disk.
(courtesy of Jim Breen)




April 11, 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 photographer George Steinmetz, who used a motorised paraglider to get the aerial view.

camel shadows
Photo credit: George Steinmetz
(Click image above to view larger, full-size photo.)

Source: Daily Mail




April 3, 2015 - Japanese Cherry Blossoms 2015

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.

Japanese cherry blossoms 2015
Japanese cherry blossoms 2015
(click above to view my 35-pic Flickr album)







New! Add your comment

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Website Updates

Jul 05, 2015

Can you give me some advice on the Kamikochi to Daikiretto to Yarigatake circuit?

Hi Gary, I read your article on your adventure at Daikiretto and was wondering if you could give me some guidance or advice on doing the climb. I'm heading

Continue reading "Can you give me some advice on the Kamikochi to Daikiretto to Yarigatake circuit?"

Jul 04, 2015

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, traffic stats, weather, and climber stories.

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

Jun 30, 2015

What's the best way to get back to Shinjuku from Mt. Fuji's 5th Station?

First off - love the site. I've been on this site for the past 5 hours and the information here is phenomenal. Scenario: a friend and I were planning

Continue reading "What's the best way to get back to Shinjuku from Mt. Fuji's 5th Station?"

Jun 29, 2015

How do I get to the Mt. Fuji 5th station with a JR Rail Pass?

Hello! How do I get to the Mt. Fuji 5th station with a JR Rail Pass? Does the bus service from Kawaguchiko Station to the 5th station accept the JR Rail

Continue reading "How do I get to the Mt. Fuji 5th station with a JR Rail Pass? "

Jun 29, 2015

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"

Jun 27, 2015

About Me (How I ended up in Japan...)

How I ended up in Japan and a short discussion of my background, interests, hometown, and life in Japan. I hope you’ll have time to read my story!

Continue reading "About Me (How I ended up in Japan...)"

Jun 27, 2015

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, 2015

How about starting from Fujinomiya 5th station and connecting with the Gotemba trail 6th station... at night?

Hello Gary! Thanks for your wonderful website! I organized my 2014 climb by reading all your stories and tips and thanks to this, my climb was PERFECT!

Continue reading "How about starting from Fujinomiya 5th station and connecting with the Gotemba trail 6th station... at night?"

Jun 27, 2015

How long will it take to climb the Yoshida trail during the day?

Hi Gary! I've thought of climbing the Yoshida trail on a Saturday, maybe July 18 or 25. I've heard that it takes around 5 hours to ascend, but if I were

Continue reading "How long will it take to climb the Yoshida trail during the day?"

Jun 26, 2015

Can I hike up the Yoshida Trail and down the Gotemba Trail in early July before the Gotemba Trail officially opens?

We would like to hike up the Yoshida Trail and down the Gotemba Trail on July 7. We understand the Yoshida Trail will be open but we are wondering if it

Continue reading "Can I hike up the Yoshida Trail and down the Gotemba Trail in early July before the Gotemba Trail officially opens?"

Jun 25, 2015

What should I wear when climbing Mt. Fuji?

I am sending my daughter and want to make sure I pack what she needs.

Continue reading "What should I wear when climbing Mt. Fuji? "

Jun 25, 2015

Which is your favorite Mt. Fuji route?

Gary, great website! Which is your favorite Mt. Fuji route? I'm looking to go on 30th or 31st July which is a weekday with my two fit boys aged 13 and

Continue reading "Which is your favorite Mt. Fuji route?"

Jun 25, 2015

How far is it from the Yoshida 10th station to the Fujikan summit mountain hut?

Hi Gary! Lovely site you have here! My friends and I are climbing on the 18th of July (Saturday), and I'm so glad to know you stayed at the same hut

Continue reading "How far is it from the Yoshida 10th station to the Fujikan summit mountain hut?"

Jun 20, 2015

Your advice on my goal to visit Mt. Kita-dake during 8-13 Aug. 2015?

Hi Gary, I following your report via this website. I never been in Japan. I plan to visit there​​ during 8-13 Aug 2015. The goal to visit Kitadake mt.

Continue reading "Your advice on my goal to visit Mt. Kita-dake during 8-13 Aug. 2015?"

Jun 20, 2015

​How can I tell the current Mt. Fuji pressure readings?

Thanks for this informative website. I will be climbing Mt. Fuji on July 20th and descending on the 21st. I have done so much research, and now I see

Continue reading "​How can I tell the current Mt. Fuji pressure readings?"

Jun 20, 2015

Are there any stations open on the Fujinomiya trail after the close of climbing season?

Hi Gary, in the shoulder period in late Sept. (after the close of the official season), are there any stations open on the Fujinomiya trail? Thanks, Nicholas

Continue reading "Are there any stations open on the Fujinomiya trail after the close of climbing season?"

Jun 19, 2015

Is calling the Mt. Fuji huts the only way to place a reservation?

Thank you for posting so much useful information. My girlfriend and I are planning to hike Mt. Fuji in August - ​​are calling the huts the only way to

Continue reading "Is calling the Mt. Fuji huts the only way to place a reservation?"

Jun 19, 2015

Will the mountain huts at the various stations be open from June 25?

Hi.... Thank you for a very insightful blog.... I wanted to know if the mountain huts at the various stations will be open from June 25 on....I wanted

Continue reading "Will the mountain huts at the various stations be open from June 25?"

Jun 19, 2015

Will we be charged the 1000 yen admission to just go up to the 6th Station to look around?

Hi, I'll be driving past Fuji-San in late June 2015 and was wondering if you know whether we would be charged the full 1000 yen admission fee if we just

Continue reading "Will we be charged the 1000 yen admission to just go up to the 6th Station to look around?"

Jun 19, 2015

Is there an overnight Mt. Fuji tour you recommend?

Thank you so much for your very informative website. I wished I had found it sooner. I​ ​am a Canadian Scouter (64 y.o.) taking another 20 members ranging

Continue reading "Is there an overnight Mt. Fuji tour you recommend?"

Jun 19, 2015

What is the Mt. Fuji mountain hut price for a private tour?

Hello, I am writing from a travel agency in Lithuania. My 3 clients are interested in climbing to Fuji mountain. Date 09-07-2015 with 1 night in hut.

Continue reading "What is the Mt. Fuji mountain hut price for a private tour? "

Jun 19, 2015

How far in advance do we need to book the Mt. Fuji mountain huts?

Hi Gary, firstly, great website! Thank you very much for the effort you've put in to it! I was just wondering rounghly ​​how far in advance we need to

Continue reading "How far in advance do we need to book the Mt. Fuji mountain huts?"

Jun 19, 2015

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2012

Includes videos of my Sept. 2012 Houston vacation, a Pub Elvis reunion, & NORAD Tracks Santa, plus pics of nighttime fall colors in Rikugien Garden.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2012"

Jun 17, 2015

When will the Fujinomiya Trail open?

First, thank you for this very informative site. I’m looking forward to reading your e-book, if I can figure out Smashwords. (Is it available on Kindle?)

Continue reading "When will the Fujinomiya Trail open?"

Jun 15, 2015

Up Fujinomiya, Down Yoshida? Loner vs. Climb Buddy?

Hi Gary, your site has been a wealth of info, so thanks for that. I think I'm sold on the sunrise hike, but plan to climb to catch the sunset and catch

Continue reading "Up Fujinomiya, Down Yoshida? Loner vs. Climb Buddy?"







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!)




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