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Gary J. Wolff's Blog

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

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



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

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 ¥389 McDonald's breakfast sets 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 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 the most stunning aspects of their demise, is the remarkable way the cherry blossoms fall off the tree and get blow 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:




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:

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

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:

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:

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

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): (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

Apr 14, 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 website.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog"

Apr 13, 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)"

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.

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

Apr 11, 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.

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

Apr 02, 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"

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.

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

Apr 02, 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)"

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.

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

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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Apr 01, 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.

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Mar 31, 2014

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2013

Posts include the busy 2013 typhoon season, Tokyo’s stunning fall colors, and screenshots of NORAD tracking Santa as he passed thru Houston & Tokyo.

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Mar 28, 2014

Guam Travel

A brief description & pics of my March 2007 Guam travel to places like Mt. Lamlam, Ritidian Point, Two Lovers Point, & the Guam Hilton Resort.

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Mar 28, 2014

Phuket, Thailand Travel

Pics, video, & more details of my March 2012 Phuket, Thailand travel, including Patong Beach, Evason Phuket Resort, Promthep Cape, & the Andaman Sea.

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Mar 28, 2014

Langkawi, Malaysia Travel

Photos, videos, & descriptions of my July 2010 Langkawi, Malaysia travel, including the Langkawi cable car, Underwater World, a mangrove river boat cruise, and Kuah Town.

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Mar 28, 2014

Koh Samui, Thailand Travel

Without question, Koh Samui, Thailand is the #1 most beautiful, charming, and romantic Pacific island travel destination I've ever visited.

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Mar 24, 2014

Cebu, Philippines Travel

My Cebu, Philippines travel was one of the most exciting things I've done recently. On the 2nd night in my hotel, the 2009 Miss Cebu beauty pageant was held there by chance. WOW!

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Mar 24, 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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Mar 24, 2014

Palau Travel

Pics, videos, and descriptions of my April 2009 Palau travel, which included swimming with dolphins, a jungle river boat cruise, and a ride on a glass-bottom boat.

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Mar 23, 2014

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.

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Mar 23, 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.

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Mar 23, 2014

Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake (奥穂高岳) & Mt. Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳), Japan's 3rd & 5th Highest Mountains

Pics, maps, trail description, & elev. profile of my Aug. 1994 climb of Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake & Mt. Yari-ga-take, Japan's 3rd & 5th highest mountains.

Continue reading "Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake (奥穂高岳) & Mt. Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳), Japan's 3rd & 5th Highest Mountains"

Mar 23, 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.

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Mar 20, 2014

Renting winter climbing gear

Hi everyone. I am planning on climbing Mt. Fuji this year on the 23rd of April (or around abouts). I have done a significant amount of ice climbing here

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Mar 20, 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

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Mar 19, 2014

Great Outdoor Gear Deals

Some of the web's best deals on outdoor gear from the best outdoor retailers. All proceeds benefit, helping fund future site improvements.

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Mar 18, 2014

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, Oct.-Dec. 2009

Posts include videos of nighttime light-up of fall colors, golden ginkgo trees in Tokyo, and Santa Mickey Christmas carol karaoke.

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Mar 18, 2014

The Latest Cebu, Philippines News

A listing of the latest Cebu, Philippines news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 18, 2014

The Latest Langkawi, Malaysia News

A listing of the latest Langkawi, Malaysia news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 18, 2014

The Latest Palau News

A listing of the latest Palau news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 18, 2014

The Latest Koh Samui, Thailand News

A listing of the latest Koh Samui, Thailand news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 18, 2014

Climbing Mt. Yari at the end of April

So I'm planning on climbing Mt. Yari on its opening weekend on the 26th-27th of April. How much snow do you think will be on the summit and closer to the

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Mar 18, 2014

The Latest Fiji News

A listing of the latest Fiji news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 17, 2014

The Latest Cook Islands News

A listing of the latest Cook Islands news headlines, courtesy of Google News

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Mar 17, 2014

How to obtain a certificate for my Mt. Fuji climb?

Gary, Excellent web site. When I was stationed in South Korea (1960/61) in U.S. Army, I climbed Mt. Fuji. I brought my walking stick with all the brands

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Mar 13, 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"

Mar 12, 2014

The Latest Phuket, Thailand News

A listing of the latest Phuket, Thailand news headlines, courtesy of Google News

Continue reading "The Latest Phuket, Thailand News"

Feb 24, 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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Feb 12, 2014

Do they require 100 yen coins for the branding of your hiking stick?

Hi Gary, Firstly, like everyone else, thank you so much for such an informative website and especially for keeping it updated as you do. I really appreciate

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Feb 07, 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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Feb 05, 2014

UEC Academic Skills 2B Course - Online Stories for Fall 2013

University students in Japan share their experiences, comments, & viewpoints on various countries around the world.

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Feb 04, 2014

Russian Clothing

Most Russians pay attention to clothing. In Russia, married women must wear headscarves with the color of white. Unmarried girls are not wearing a headscarf,

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Feb 04, 2014

Blue diamond, the diamond of curse

Stealing the Diamond Dynasty Faisal of Saudi Arabia (Blue diamond) in 1989 (known as the case of the diamond jewelry theft of the Saudi royal family) by

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Jan 30, 2014

Japan Links

A short list of links to some of the more noteworthy Japanese websites I've bookmarked thru my many years of residing in this phenomenal country.

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Jan 29, 2014

UEC Academic Skills 2B Course

University students in Japan share their experiences, comments, & viewpoints on various countries around the world.

Continue reading "UEC Academic Skills 2B Course"

Jan 28, 2014

Is it possible to climb Mt. Fuji in April on my own?

Congratulations on your website, by far the most comprehensive resource I've found so far on Mt Fuji facts and information, specially in English. Thank

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Jan 28, 2014

UEC Technical English Resources

Continue reading "UEC Technical English Resources"

Jan 27, 2014

Is there an alternative activity at Mt. Fuji in the off-season?

Since it's dangerous for casual non-pro climbers to go up Mt. Fuji in the off-season, are there alternative activities or sites to go to that's related

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Jan 21, 2014

The Aboriginal People in South Africa

If South Africa is being referred to, the first picture coming into my brain will be a group of the Aboriginal People who wear colorful clothes, dancing

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Jan 21, 2014

Rooibos Tea

In Taiwan, I often drink one kind of tea, which comes from South Africa called Rooibos Tea. My parents' friends recommended it and they often shared it

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