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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.





Feb. 7, 2016 - Sakurajima volcano blows her top!

Never a dull moment in Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported that the Mt. Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture on the country's southern main island of Kyushu erupted at 6:56 pm on Friday Feb. 5, Japan time.

Although Mt. Sakurajima had at least 700 explosive eruptions between January and September of last year, it's been quiet since Sept. 17.

About 15 minutes after the eruption, the agency raised the alert level from 2 to 3 on the scale of 5. Level-3 alerts restrict entry onto the mountain.

Source: NHK World

Volcanic lightning in the Feb. 5, 2016 Mt. Sakurajima eruption
Volcanic lightning in the Feb. 5, 2016 Mt. Sakurajima eruption
(Photo credit: Kyodo/Reuters)




Feb. 3, 2016 - ♪  Have a Nice Day!  ♫ - a grrrreat song by Kazutoshi!

Kazutoshi, a very talented musician & one of my university engineering students, has composed a new song named "Have a Nice Day" and posted it to his SoundCloud channel. He has managed to create a very innovative rendition of his own teacher's voice. WOW! smiley

Check it out!



Thanks, Kazutoshi, for sharing!! Grrrrrreat! smiley

Song lyrics:
Have a nice day
I think I'm OK
Oh, well
It's a fine day today
1, 2, check, check
It's time to wake up
Wash my face
Hmmm... Beards to shave
But my razor's gone away
Anyway, by the way
Let's breakfast, yeah
No way / What a shame
Nothing's left to eat, great
Toothpaste
Good taste
Never have a toothache
I say "hooray"
Have a nice day

Come on, DJ!




Feb. 1, 2016 - English loanwords in the Japanese language

Historically, the Japanese language has borrowed many words from foreign countries, starting with China back in the Nara Period (710-794).

Beginning in the 17th century, the Japanese language began to borrow these loanwords, or "gairaigo" (外来語) in Japanese, from western languages, including Portuguese, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Russian, and, especially since the 2nd World War, English. Today, English is the origin of most modern loanwords.

In Sanseido’s 2010 edition of Concise Dictionary of Foreign Words, there were over 56,300 foreign loanwords in the Japanese language, and of the 20,000 loanwords added in the past 2 decades, most of them came from English. One reason for their popularity is that almost all of these loanwords are a much shorter, abbreviated version of the original English word or expression, or their Japanese equivalent.

Although in many cases the new English loanwords are adopted to express concepts for which there are no equivalents in Japanese, most of the time people simply prefer to use the English words for practicality....e.g. the words are shorter, easier to say, or because they are fashionable. This is the case even when there are existing synonyms in Japanese.

So it comes as no big surprise that McDonald's Japan has taken this trend
to a new level with their latest sandwich campaign.

How about a チキチ (pronounced chee-kee-chee), short for チキーズバーガー (chicken cheeseburger)? Or how about an エグチ (pronounced ay-goo-chee), short for グ チーズバーガー (egg cheeseburger)... or a バベポ (pronounced bah-bay-poh), short forキューークバーガー (barbeque pork burger)... or a ハムタス (pronounced hah-moo-tah-soo), short for ハ ムタスバーガー (ham lettuce burger)? smiley

Mac otegoro menu
McDonald's Japan's latest sandwich campaign

Here are some other examples of popular English loanwords used in everyday Japanese conversation:

sumaho スマホ - smartphone
maiku マイク - microphone
pasokon パソコン - personal computer

waapuro ワープロ - word processor
suupaa スーパー - supermarket

depaato デパート - department store
amefuto アメフト - American football
puroresu プロレス - professional wrestling
sando サンド - sandwich
furugura フルグラ - fruit granola
konbini コンビニ - convenience store

eakon エアコン - air conditioning
masukomi マスコミ - mass media (from mass communication)

erebeetaa エレベーター - elevator
anime アニメ - animation

furonto フロント - front desk, e.g. in a hotel
reji レジ - cash register


naitaa ナイター - nighter (nighttime baseball game)
furima フリマ - flea market


risutora リストラ - restructuring




Jan. 30, 2016 - Paraglider dancing with the Northern Lights!

33-year-old Spaniard Horacio Llorens, a 5-time world champion acrobatic paraglider, has pulled off a truly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime feat by riding his paraglider thru & dancing with Norway's Northern Lights near the city of Trømso.

Llorens’ dance with the Northern Lights was made possible by his sponsors Red Bull, paramotor chassis company Kangook, and motorcycle engine builder Polini.... as well as by the Norwegian government, which granted permission for the stunt.

Llorens dedicated his flight to his cousin Alejandro Rodríguez, who died in a paragliding accident 5 years ago.

Source: RT News



Paraglider dancing with the Northern Lights!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Jan. 26, 2016 - Please vote for Cindy!

Can I ask you for a favor? Cindy, the 15-year-old daughter of my dear, longtime friends Peter & Elke in Frankfurt, Germany, had such a positive experience on a 3-week exchange program last year in Canada that she has decided to apply as a high school exchange student in the U.S. this fall.

She has prepared a video application with photos from her friends in Canada, her English teacher in Germany, etc., and along with her competitors, uploaded it to the website of the exchange program organizer (EF High School Exchange Year - Deutschland). This will be a very tough competition: whichever students get the most votes in the shortest time will be selected!

Can I ask you, your family, and friends to vote for Cindy? Just click the link below and then click on the “Vote” button (NOT on the Facebook "Like” button). (Cindy does not have nor do you need a Facebook account to vote.) And then, by all means watch her very cute video!

Please vote for Cindy! Plus, you'll get a chance to brush up on your German!! smiley

Thank you in advance! Here is the link:
http://woobox.com/i65paa/vote/for/12567651






Jan. 16, 2016 -  The brilliant art of deception


21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa
The Swimming Pool,
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan
(photo credit: Japan National Tourism)


Is your mind playing games with you? At first glance, when viewed from above, the swimming pool appears to be filled with deep, shimmering water. But wait...aren't those people in regular street clothes standing on the bottom of the pool & gazing upward? And without air tanks?

"The Swimming Pool," by 43-year-old Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich, is actually an empty swimming pool topped by a layer of water about 10 centimeters deep suspended over transparent plexiglass.

This 2004 permanent exhibit is among the many other artistic creations from wide-ranging fields at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and is well-known not only as the home of some of Japan's most respected artists & museums, but also for the centuries-old Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's 3 most beautiful gardens, as well as for Kanazawa Castle, which was built in the 1580s.

For a view from inside the pool & below the water, click here.




Jan. 14, 2016 - Save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎)!!

The Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a 56-hectare natural habitat for aquatic birds located in Ichikawa, Chiba. It was built by a non-profit organization (NPO) 37 years ago as a wildlife protection area to serve as a wild bird sanctuary.

As one of the biggest landing zones in Japan for some migratory aquatic birds like terns and greater scaups, the Gyotoku Bird Observatory has attracted thousands of birdwatchers from all over Japan & overseas. The facility includes a 3-story visitor center and educational facility, as well as a small adjoining bird hospital to care for injured and sick wild birds. The 2nd floor has 44 telescopes and a large picture window for viewing the expansive wildlife protection area.

But just last month, the Chiba prefectural assembly decided to close the observatory indefinitely, due to severe damage to the building caused by the disastrous earthquake that occurred in Japan on March 2011. The prefectural assembly is not planning to either resume operations or reconstruct the observatory, but rather to reclaim the bird sanctuary wetland.

If this decision stands, Japan will lose a national treasure where generations of children will no longer be able to benefit from learning about and experiencing natural wildlife and the ecosystem. And we will lose a great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront habitat.

As a result, Kaoru Hayashi has started an online petition @ Change.org directed toward Chiba governor Kensaku Morita to encourage his government to reconsider their decision. If we can save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, the NPO can continue its vital community service to allow local residents as well as visitors to experience the great nature of Gyotoku.

Kaoru is a veterinary medical science student at The University of Tokyo who benefited tremendously from often visiting the bird sanctuary as a child, having been raised in the nearby Shiohama area.

Having lived in the area myself, I've visited the Gyotoku Bird Observatory numerous times, and the place has touched my soul in such a profound way that I even built a special webpage about it a few years ago. As a nature lover & bird watcher myself, thru the years I found this bird sanctuary to be a very therapeutic spot for me to escape Tokyo's concrete jungle.

If you'd like to learn more or would care to sign the online petition, please visit: Change.org

It's going to be a very sad day indeed if we lose it. Thanks for your support!


Sun. afternoon tour of Gyotoku Bird Observatory
Sun. afternoon tour of 56-acre Gyotoku Bird Observatory,
Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan




Jan. 13, 2016 - Tokyo Metro's Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project

Since the big 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, Tokyo Metro, the operator of Tokyo's largest subway system which transports nearly 7 million passengers daily, has been working diligently toward reducing its power costs and carbon footprint. Thus, it has a goal to keep its total energy consumption in Fiscal 2020 at a level lower than the actual consumption in Fiscal 2009.

One of its strategies for achieving this was the recent installation between 2012 & 2015 of rooftop solar panels at its 8 aboveground stations on the Tozai Line. These include, from west to east, Nishi-Kasai, Kasai, Urayasu, Minami-Gyotoku, Gyotoku, Myoden, Baraki-Nakayama, and Nishi-Funabashi Stations.

rooftop solar panels on Tozai Line's Urayasu Station
Rooftop solar panels on the Tozai Line's Urayasu Station
(photo credit: Tokyo Metro)

The stations individually generate anywhere from 93-253 kW of electrical power, or a total electricity output from all 8 stations of about 1 megawatt. This annual generating capacity of around 1.1 million kWh, equivalent to the annual power consumption of 322 households, provides for the lighting, air conditioning/heating, elevators, & escalators at the stations.

Here's Tokyo Metro's 30-second promo video (in Japanese) showing its Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project:


Tokyo Metro's 30-second promo video of its Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)





Jan. 9, 2016 - Rambling Steve Gardner, live @ What the Dickens, Jan. 8, 2016

Last night I had the honor of hearing one of my favorite musicians, Mississippi native and globetrotting bluesman Rambling Steve Gardner, who kicked off the 2016 live music schedule at the "What the Dickens" British pub in Ebisu, Tokyo.

Not only is Steve without question Tokyo's most accomplished harmonica playin' & finger pickin', slide playin' blues guitarist, he is also a university professor who has traveled to several universities around Japan, playing the blues and doing programs on Mississippi and southern U.S. culture. He also travels the world making music and giving seminars about musical history.....in fact, he has tours booked during the next 3 months in Hawaii & Mississippi.

If all that weren't enough, Steve spends a lot of his time in Fukushima, having made over 50 trips in recent years, working in association with the Tokyo American Club’s Women’s Group to play his music or conduct workshops, especially to boost the morale of child victims of the big 2011 earthquake/tsunami who are still suffering from a fairly high level of depression.

For more on Steve and his music, including his videos, photos, blog, & live gig schedule, head on over to: http://stevegardner-roots-n-blues.ning.com/ (Don't miss his amazing rendition of Hank Williams' 1953 classic, "Your Cheatin' Heart" on his 12-string National Reso-Phonic left-handed guitar.)



Rambling Steve Gardner, live @ What the Dickens, Jan. 8, 2016
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)





Jan. 6, 2015 - English Pronunciation Mini-Course for Japanese Learners

This 4-lesson American English pronunciation mini-course focuses on the most common & troublesome pronunciation problems that my students have struggled with through the years. These include the TH/S, R/L, B/V, & F/H sounds.

Each lesson contains 3 exercises (speaking, listening, & dictation), which have been intentionally simplified to aid the learning process.

And although this mini-course is tailored to Japanese learners, it may prove useful to non-native English learners from other countries as well.

Here's the Course Intro video:




Click HERE to learn more or to begin the course.




Jan. 2, 2015 - "How To Win Friends and Influence People"

The other day I was reminded in Dan Miller's Dec. 29 podcast about a very important principle from Dale Carnegie's best-selling "How To Win Friends and Influence People" book about making other people feel important and that it be done sincerely. 

Here it is in a nutshell...

6 WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU:

1) Become genuinely interested in other people.
2) Smile.
3) Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5) Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
6) Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

It's an important principle which I've always found works well for me personally, since first being introduced to this remarkable book early in my professional career. So I doubt I'll be changing horses in midstream anytime soon. smiley

Thanks to Dan's kindness, you can download a free pdf of "How To Win Friends and Influence People" on his Dec. 29 podcast page linked above.




Dec. 27, 2015 - 2015: The Year in Pictures

It's been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.

My full-size 2015 pics are here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskogjKFT
(click thumbnails there to open up full-size images or click tiny gray right arrow in upper right to view entire album as an automated slideshow)

Best wishes for a healthy & prosperous 2016, the Year of the Monkey!





Dec. 24, 2015 - 2015 "NORAD Tracks Santa" in Japan

As of shortly after 11 pm Japan time on Xmas Eve 2015, Santa Claus just made the rounds in Fukushima, Utsunomiya, Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, & Okayama. Over 1 billion gifts delivered so far. Track Santa in real-time, 3D animation during the rest of his 24-hr journey here: noradsanta.org



Santa Claus visits Japan just after 11 pm on Xmas Eve 2015
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 23, 2015 - The 60th anniversary of "NORAD Tracks Santa"

Sixty years ago a Sears department store in Colorado Springs placed an advertisement in the local paper which told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, due to a typo in the phone number, calls instead came through to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), then known as the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center.

So as not to disappoint the children in Colorado Springs, the colonel in charge that night told his staff to give all children who called in a "current location" for Santa Claus. The tradition continues to this day. Now, in less than 24 hours (5 pm on Dec. 24 Japan time), Santa will begin his 24-hr journey to deliver billions of presents to eager children around the globe.

The technology has improved greatly thru the years, and it's truly phenomenal to view the 3D animation of his travels. The "NORAD Tracks Santa" website videos page is generally updated every hour, when the "Santa Cam" videos show CGI images of Santa Claus flying over famous landmarks in cities around the world.

Get in on the action by visiting the NORAD Tracks Santa website, where you can  play games, listen to music, view videos, shop, and link to downloadable Santa tracker apps for your mobile device.

Below is a Santa Cam video of Santa when he blasted past Mt. Fuji in Japan 10 years ago at a speed calculated to be greater than 100 times faster than that of Japan's shinkansen bullet train.



Santa Claus flies past Mt. Fuji, Japan in 2005 & 2006
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Dec. 23, 2015 - "Mr. Wolfman," a song by Kazutoshi

Kazutoshi, a very talented musician & one of my university engineering students, has composed a song named "Mr. Wolfman" and posted it to his SoundCloud channel. He said it was inspired by...yep, you guessed it...yours truly. smiley

Check it out!



"Mr. Wolfman," a song by Kazutoshi
(check out the lyrics here)

And by all means, don't miss the personal greeting at the very end of the song by Mr. Wolfman himself! smiley

Thanks, Kazutoshi, for sharing!! Well done!




Dec. 16, 2015 - A 2009 Christmas Medley by Santa Mickey

Back by popular demand, the famous Santa Mickey thrills kids worldwide with Xmas carol karaoke practice. Kids....by all means....DO try this at home!! smiley


All 5 videos are in a playlist and will play continuously, non-stop. Or click on the playlist symbol in the upper left corner above to select the other 4 videos. OR...play the entire playlist in new window here.
[Lyrics may not appear on your phone, but should be visible on your tablet & PC.]




Dec. 15, 2015 - Japanese Christmas trees

Over the past quarter-century in Tokyo, I've had the pleasure of viewing some pretty amazing Japanese Christmas trees. These are a few of them that I've posted to my websites thru the years. Click the photo collage below or the following link to see the whole album @ Flickr where you can click open the thumbnails to view the full-size images: Japanese Christmas trees

Merry Christmas!! 





Dec. 11, 2015 - "Cascadia," Danny MacAskill's latest death-defying video

Watch Danny MacAskill, Scotland's most famous daredevil, ride his bike across the rooftops of Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands off northwestern Africa.

This guy is AMAZING, as he balances and hops across rooftops with a GoPro strapped to his head!! Boys & girls....DON'T try this at home! smiley

And don't miss the grand finale @ the 4:25 mark!



"Cascadia," Danny MacAskill's latest death-defying video 
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


If you liked the above video, you will LOVE the one linked below even more, one of the most incredible, daredevil feats I've ever seen, when Danny rode his Santa Cruz Bronson mountain bike along the notorious Cuillin Ridgeline in his native home on the Isle of Skye in Scotland: http://www.garyjwolff.com/Gary-J.-Wolff-blog-archives-oct-dec-2014.html#danny




Dec. 8, 2015 - Enjoying a wonderful turkey dinner...

...and fellowship with 2 of my all-time favorite guys on Thanksgiving Day in the Smokehouse restaurant.

Thanksgiving 2015 @ the Smokehouse
Thanksgiving 2015 @ the Smokehouse




Nov. 29, 2015 - Life = Risk

In our efforts to achieve success in our everyday lives, we will all invariably encounter many dark moments of self-doubt and fear of failure along the way. And it's always a special challenge to maintain our self-worth in spite of the doubts and discouragements of others, particularly from those in positions of authority.... parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, etc.

In the process, if we lose our confidence to take risks, our chances for achieving success are severely diminished.

But without risk, there can be no lasting success. And so many great successes have been built upon repeated failures and the lessons we learn from those failures.

Perhaps it's time for us to turn off the TV, stop checking our Facebook news feed every few minutes, get off the sofa, stop being afraid, and go conquer our dreams.

The very touching 1-min. video below puts it all into the proper perspective. In short, "If you've never failed, you've never lived."

"One day the people who didn't believe in you will tell everyone how they met you."

--Johnny Depp--




"One of the best motivational videos I've ever seen"
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)





Nov. 27, 2015 - Musashi Junior & Senior High School English Speech Contest

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of serving as a judge in the Musashi Junior & Senior High School English Speech Contest, organized by the All-Japan Inter-High School English Speaking Societies (ESS) Union.

The kids were great!

Musashi Junior & Senior High School English Speech Contest
Musashi Junior & Senior High School
English Speech Contest, Nov. 22, 2015




Nov. 20, 2015 - The "New Departures" country band performed live...

...@ the "Little Texas" honky-tonk in Meguro, Tokyo on Thurs. Nov. 19, 2015!  Yee Hah! smiley


"New Departures" country band performing live
@ the "Little Texas" honky-tonk in Meguro, Tokyo
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)



More info on the amazing Little Texas honky-tonk, including menu, concert schedule, & map are here: http://www.littletexas.jp/index-e.html

The spirit of Texas rocks on...DEEP...in the heart of Tokyo! smiley

 
 

Nov. 15, 2015 - Did you know many of the world's oldest businesses are in Japan?

In an era when Silicon Valley companies rarely survive for more than a decade and as the average lifespan of multinational corporations has gradually declined over the past 30 years, Japan’s centuries-old businesses have defied the odds by surviving the formidable test of time.

Of the 967 businesses worldwide founded prior to 1700, 517 of them (53%) are located in Japan. Of these 517 businesses, the 3 most common trades are sake (85), confectionery (70), and hotels (64).

Many of the other 517 businesses founded prior to the year 1700 are related to Japanese culture: things like taiko drums, paper lanterns, dolls, brushes, etc. Because of Japanese society's continuous endorsement & nurturing of traditional industries of great cultural importance, these kinds of businesses tend to enjoy centuries of longevity.

Japan contains 8 of the world’s 10 longest-running businesses (all founded prior to the year 800), including the world’s oldest hotel, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, a hot spring that has been in continuous operation since year 705. Japan also has the world’s oldest sake brewer (Sudo Honke, year 1141), religious goods company (Tanaka Iga, year 885), confectionery (Ichimonjiya Wasuke, year 1000), and, until recently, construction company (Kongo Gumi, year 578)....all confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Other factors in the longevity of Japanese businesses include the isolation & economic stability of the country between the 1600s & 1800s, the longest human lifespan on Earth, the world's 3rd lowest infant mortality rate, no financial risk-taking, being sensitive to the environment, and the tendency of company managers to focus more on the welfare of their employees rather than on the economic activity of producing goods and services.

Read more... Priceonomics.com

world's oldest businesses
World's oldest businesses
(image credit: Priceonomics.com)




Nov. 4, 2015 - My photo of Diamond Fuji from the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52nd floor observatory

I got lucky on an absolutely gorgeous day! Roppongi Hills is nearly an hour from my home and it costs ¥1800 (~$15) to enter the 52nd floor Tokyo City View observatory, but as they always say: "Persistence sometimes pays off." smiley


Diamond Fuji from the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52nd floor observatory
Diamond Fuji from the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
52nd floor observatory
Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 4, 2015, 4:32 pm




Nov. 3, 2015 - A Taste of Texas Deep in the Heart of Tokyo

If you're looking for an authentic Texas honky-tonk in the world's largest metropolis, go no farther than the Little Texas Bar and Grill in Meguro, Tokyo. Live country music, cowboy hats & boots, line dancing, chicken-fried steaks, Texas license plates on the walls, & its gracious Japanese owners Takeshi Yoshino & wife Natsuco all make this amazing place reminiscent of the old cowboy bars of the South and Southwest U.S.

Recently I was alerted to a wonderful story written by NPR International Correspondent Elise Hu, an award-winning journalist based in Seoul, Korea, who has done an excellent job capturing the magic of this must-see Little Texas bar in a piece for NPR's All Things Considered radio program.

In Elise's NPR story, you'll be able to see more pics, listen to the audio track, and even link to a video of the bar owners receiving "Honorary Texan" certificates signed 4 years ago by then-Governor Rick Perry.

The Little Texas website, where you can view photos, the menu, & a schedule of upcoming live country music gigs, is here. Yee Hah! smiley


Little Texas Bar & Grill in Meguro, Tokyo
Little Texas Bar & Grill in Meguro, Tokyo
(photo credit, with permission: Elise Hu/NPR)




Oct. 27, 2015 - Book Review of CNN Student News, Vol. 2

CNN Student News, Vol. 2 is the second in a three-part textbook series and is based on CNN Student News, a 10-minute, commercial-free, daily TV news program that presents current events and issues in a simplified format, targeting middle and high school students. The show airs weekdays throughout the U.S. school year and is supplemented by the program’s website, both of which are accessible for free.

Each of the textbook’s 15 stand-alone, six-page units features a two-minute news story which has been previously broadcast and chosen by the authors to be of interest to young adult Japanese learners of English, complete with video, audio, and an array of discussion, vocabulary, and listening comprehension exercises. The DVD contains only two-minute videos for each unit and is furnished to teachers at no charge.

Read more...




Oct. 27, 2015 - Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo

It's almost that time of year again when we'll have a chance in Tokyo to view an amazing phenomenon known as "Diamond Fuji," when the sun sets into the cone of Japan's tallest peak.

From Nov. 1-16, if you're lucky, you might be able to catch Diamond Fuji from the top of some of Tokyo's tallest buildings & towers.

Click link above to see the best spots, dates, and times to view Diamond Fuji from Tokyo over the next few weeks.
 
Berndt's Diamond Fuji
Diamond Fuji photo taken Feb. 17, 2011 by Berndt Otto




Oct. 20, 2015 - Venus/Jupiter/Mars conjunction

Wow, don't miss this amazing match-up of the 2nd & 3rd brightest objects in our night sky, viewable every morning 60-90 minutes before sunrise. In Tokyo, the best time right now is between 4:20 & 4:50 am.

In October, we can view all 5 planets that are visible with the naked eye....Venus, Jupiter, Mars, & Mercury in the morning and Saturn in the early evening.

Venus/Jupiter/Mars conjunction
Venus/Jupiter/Mars conjunction
(image credit: earthsky.org)




Oct. 18, 2015 - Impromptu dance show @ Hooter's Ginza Tokyo

Hoo wah! smiley



Impromptu dance show @ Hooter's Ginza Tokyo
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)





Oct. 14, 2015 - New glass-bottomed suspension bridge in China terrifies thrill-seeking tourists

The world's first glass-bottomed bridge opened recently in the scenic Shiniuzhai Geopark in Hunan, central China. It's the world's longest glass-bottomed walkway at 984 feet (~300m) long and is 590 feet (~180m) above the canyon floor below. Wow!



The world's first glass-bottomed bridge in Hunan, China
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)





Oct. 10, 2015 - 202 skydivers break world record on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015

More than 200 skydivers from nearly 30 countries traveled to Perris, California & set a new world record for the largest number of skydivers performing multiple sequential aerial formations. They jumped out of 9 planes from a height of 18,000 feet (~5486 m) and performed 2 formations. WOW!



202 skydivers break world record on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)








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Website Updates

Feb 09, 2016

Is it possible to catch a taxi at Kawaguchiko Station at 4am?

Dear Gary, My girlfriend Karo and me will travel Japan in April/May 2016 and one of our highlights will be climbing Mt. Fuji around the 23th April (only

Continue reading "Is it possible to catch a taxi at Kawaguchiko Station at 4am?"

Feb 06, 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"

Feb 05, 2016

♪ Have a Nice Day! ♫ - a grrrreat song by Kazutoshi!

Kazutoshi, a very talented musician & one of my university engineering students, has composed a new song named "Have a Nice Day" and posted it to his SoundCloud channel. He has managed to create a very innovative rendition of his own teacher's voice. WOW! :-)

Check it out!

Thanks, Kazutoshi, for sharing!! Grrrrrreat! :-)

Continue reading "♪ Have a Nice Day! ♫ - a grrrreat song by Kazutoshi!"

Feb 04, 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"

Feb 02, 2016

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June 2010

Posts include Ryomaden photos, and videos of a beautiful nighttime-illuminated Ferris wheel and the stunning Chidorigafuchi nighttime cherry blossoms.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June 2010"

Feb 02, 2016

Site Map for garyjwolff.com

The site map listing of links to the main pages at garyjwolff.com

Continue reading "Site Map for garyjwolff.com"

Feb 01, 2016

English loanwords in the Japanese language

Historically, the Japanese language has borrowed many words from foreign countries, starting with China back in the Nara Period (710-794).

Beginning in the 17th century, the Japanese language began to borrow these loanwords, or "gairaigo" (外来語) in Japanese, from western languages, including Portuguese, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Russian, and, especially since the 2nd World War, English. Today, English is the origin of most modern loanwords.

In Sanseido’s 2010 edition of "Concise Dictionary of Foreign Words," there were over 56,300 foreign loanwords in the Japanese language...

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Jan 30, 2016

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2

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

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Jan 29, 2016

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)"

Jan 29, 2016

Paraglider dancing with the Northern Lights!

33-year-old Spaniard Horacio Llorens, a 5-time world champion acrobatic paraglider, has pulled off a truly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime feat by riding his paraglider thru & dancing with Norway's Northern Lights near the city of Trømso.

Llorens’ dance with the Northern Lights was made possible by his sponsors Red Bull, paramotor chassis company Kangook, and motorcycle engine builder Polini.... as well as by the Norwegian government, which granted permission for the stunt.

Llorens dedicated his flight to his cousin Alejandro Rodríguez, who died in a paragliding accident 5 years ago. (Click link below to view video.)

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Jan 26, 2016

Please vote for Cindy!

Can I ask you for a favor? Cindy, the 15-year-old daughter of my dear, longtime friends Peter & Elke in Frankfurt, Germany, had such a positive experience on a 3-week exchange program last year in Canada that she has decided to apply as a high school exchange student in the U.S. this fall.

She has prepared a video application with photos from her friends in Canada, her English teacher in Germany, etc., and along with her competitors, uploaded it to the website of the exchange program organizer.

Can I ask you, your family, and friends to vote for Cindy? Just click the link and then click on the “Vote” button. And then, by all means watch her very cute video!

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Jan 17, 2016

Is eating at the mountain huts an option, rather than carrying all my own food?

Hi Gary, Great website - thanks! I'm planning to walk the Kamikochi - Yari - Hotaka circuit. I plan to camp, but would prefer to eat at the huts if

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Jan 16, 2016

The brilliant art of deception

Is your mind playing games with you? At first glance, when viewed from above, the swimming pool appears to be filled with deep, shimmering water. But wait...aren't those people in regular street clothes standing on the bottom of the pool & gazing upward? And without air tanks?

"The Swimming Pool," by 43-year-old Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich, is actually...

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Jan 15, 2016

Climbing Mt. Fuji - the 3rd time was the charm!

I arrived at Yokota Air Base Japan in June of 1962, not knowing anybody and lonely. I was an Airman 2nd class in the U.S. Air Force. The veterans at my

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Jan 14, 2016

Save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎)!!

Just last month, the Chiba prefectural assembly decided to close the Gyotoku Bird Observatory indefinitely, due to severe damage to the building caused by the disastrous earthquake that occurred in Japan on March 2011. The prefectural assembly is not planning to either resume operations or reconstruct the observatory, but rather to reclaim the bird sanctuary wetland.

If this decision stands, Japan will lose a national treasure & great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront habitat. In order to save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, an online petition has been started and is directed to Chiba governor Kensaku Morita to encourage his government to reconsider their decision. If you'd like to learn more or would care to sign the petition, please visit...

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