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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2015

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
April-June, 2015

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from April-June, 2015.



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 website.

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 is 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

(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 is 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:


Another option is to sign the petition to Google CEO Larry Page to 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:

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!!


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)

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

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