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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, July-September, 2012

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
July-September, 2012

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from July-September, 2012.



Sept. 26, 2012 - The View from the Top of Japan: My 2-decade-long quest to scale the nation's 25 highest peaks

Just a quick note for any interested readers that my new mountain climbing eBook is now available in 9 different formats from Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie eBooks.

Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the Diesel eBook Store & offers a catalog of over 100,000 vetted, well-formatted eBooks from over 45,000 authors and publishers.

The eBooks on Smashwords can be read online using their online readers, or they can be downloaded to other reading devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, or Barnes & Noble Nook, or to other e-reading devices.

Smashwords also offers generous sampling options so readers can try before they buy. Read more...

Sept. 19, 2012 - Houston, Texas pics - Sept. 7-17, 2012

              View entire photo set at a glance in separate window here.

Sept. 10, 2012 - The View from the Top of Japan: My 2-decade-long quest to scale the nation's 25 highest peaks

Hot off the press. I've been toying w/ the idea for at least 9 yrs., but a couple weeks ago I finally got a round tuit (round tuit). smiley

Amazon Kindle eBook description:  Being a lifelong climber, the attraction for Japan’s breathtaking mountains was immediate for Gary J. Wolff, and so within only 4 short months of arriving in Japan over 21 years ago, he was standing atop Fuji-san, the nation’s highest peak. After becoming firmly hooked on the exhilarating 360-degree panoramas afforded by Japan’s alpine country, over the course of the next 2 decades Gary managed to climb all of the 29 highest mountains in Japan and 38 of the tallest 50. Read more...

(If like me, you do not own a Kindle, you can download here the free Kindle reading app for your smartphone, PC, or tablet. You can also "Look inside" or download (sample) the 1st chapter for free at the eBook links above.)

Aug. 29, 2012 - Climbing Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail (富士宮登山道)

Pics, video, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 21-22, 2012 climb of Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Trail (富士宮登山道), the shortest route up to the highest point in Japan (日本最高峰), are here. Enjoy !!

Fuji-san goraiko 2012-08-22
Fuji-san sunrise (goraiko, 御来光) @ 5:03 am on Aug. 22, 2012

Aug. 26, 2012 - Video of Mt. Fuji's Fujinomiya Climbing Route (富士山富士宮登山道), August 21-22, 2012

                         (View in separate window here.)

 0:00  Fujinomiya 5th Station (富士宮五合目)
 1:13  Fujinomiya trailhead (登山入り口)
 1:53  Fujinomiya 6th Station (六合目)
 3:31  Fujinomiya New 7th Station (新七合目)    
 4:50  Fujinomiya Old 7th Station (元祖七合目)
 5:11  Fujinomiya 8th Station (八合目)
 6:49  Fujinomiya 9th Station (九合目)
 7:13  Oxygen can inhalation demo (酸素缶の吸入デモ)
 7:23  Mannenyuki (10,000 yr.) snow field (万年雪)
 8:37  Fujinomiya 9.5th Station (九号五勺)
 9:34  Fujikan summit mountain hut (頂上富士館)
10:00  Inside Mt. Fuji's crater (山頂噴火口)
11:40  Sunset from Kengamine, Japan's high point (剣ヶ峰(日本最高峰)から日の入り) 12:39  Nighttime climbers w/ headlamps (ヘッドランプをもっている夜間登山者)
13:45  Sunrise from Mt. Fuji's summit (富士山頂上から日の出)
16:03  The hike down from the summit (頂上から下りにハイキング)
16:22  Returning to Tokyo by shinkansen bullet train (新幹線で帰京)

Since ancient times, the Fujinomiya Route (富士宮ルート) has been referred to as the "front entrance (表口)" to Mt. Fuji due in part to the way it has been depicted historically in countless poems & literature, as well as artwork such as Katsushika Hokusai's (葛飾 北斎) woodblock print series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽三十六景)".

Aug. 24, 2012 - Pics of my August 21-22, 2012 climb of Mt. Fuji (富士山) along the Fujinomiya Climbing Route (富士宮登山道)

                          View full 123-photo set at a glance here.

Aug. 16, 2012 - Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳, 8 Peaks), elev. 2899m, the 33rd Highest Mountain in Japan

Aka-dake summit
            Mt. Aka-dake (赤岳) summit, elev. 2899m
         (the highest of Mt. Yatsu-ga-take’s 8 peaks)

This group of inactive volcanic peaks is listed among the 100 famous mountains in Japan (Nihon Hyakumeizan, 日本百名山). After 21 years of climbing the highest mountains in Japan (日本の高い山), this Aug. 2000 trip is the only time I can ever recall staying in a mountain hut up on a hiking trail that actually had a hot spring bath in it. Made from Japanese cypress, no less.

Besides Mt. Fuji, among the highest mountains in Japan, Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ 岳, elev. 2899m) is probably the most accessible Japan highpoint from Tokyo, as it is possible to reach the trailhead in less than 3 hours from Shinjuku. If you have any interest, pls. check out my 12-yr-old story, back when I still had dark hair. smiley Read more here...


Although more than two years have now passed since the introduction of Apple’s iPad tablet computer, this versatile mobile device continues to revolutionize the education landscape. Nevertheless, an exploding number of applications often brings confusion to teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in how best to utilize the iPad as a teaching tool in their classrooms, especially those language educators not so technologically inclined. The purpose of this article is to identify a few of the most useful iPad applications for EFL teachers, and to describe how teachers are actually using the device in and out of the classroom for tasks including the presentation of class content; face-to-face interaction with students; as an instantaneous, in-class reference tool; and for the teachers’ own professional development. By learning how EFL teachers are using iPads to their fullest potential, the reader will gain insight into how to maximize use of this versatile device and in the process will be able to provide a more enriching learning environment for students. (Continued... Useful iPad Tools for the EFL Teacher)

Evernote Peek open cover
         Sample question and answer in Evernote Peek

Aug. 7, 2012 - 2012 Edogawa Fireworks Display (第37回江戸川区花火大会)

The 37th Annual 2012 Edogawa Hanabi Taikai (fireworks display) was held Sat. Aug. 4, 2012 on the banks of the Edogawa River, Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, from 7:15 to 8:30 pm, and included 14,000 fireworks. Last year this festival was canceled because of the Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami.

Unlike most fireworks shows, this one is composed of eight distinct themes, each with music to match the beautiful fireworks that light the sky. This year the 7th section "Ginsou" was themed around the Tohoku Earthquake to pray for the victims. Launched by electrical remote control, the fireworks performance is choreographed in great detail to delight onlookers.

Don't miss the amazing 2-min. grand finale, even with applause from the audience!!

                         (View in separate window here.)

Aug. 3, 2012 - Acting and Modeling in Tokyo

Fujitsu Glovia ad

Whoa, where did all that DARK HAIR come from?! Ah yes, the days of my youth. smiley Living in Japan opens up a lot of opportunities that foreigners would normally never have in their own home country.

How else would one explain how a former engineering company vice president can land Japanese television roles as President Richard Nixon, a famous heart surgeon, a police officer, the New Zealand ambassador to Japan, an American executive on a business trip in Japan, an Italian bank teller, and even the butler for Sir Thomas Glover, the Scottish merchant who was a key figure in the 19th century industrialization of Japan?  smiley

More pics and videos here: Acting and Modeling in Tokyo

July 16, 2012 - 2011 Katsushika Fireworks Display, Tokyo, Japan

This year's show (第46回葛飾納涼花火大会, in Japanese) is Tues. 7/24, 7:20-8:20 p.m. (about 10,800 fireworks), postponed to the 25th in case of rain or strong wind.

                         (View in separate window here.)

The video above was last year's 45th annual Katsushika Noryo Hanabi Taikai (第45回葛飾納涼花火大会) held on the banks of the Edo River in Tokyo. The 40-minute show was on Tues. July 26, 2011. Boom Factor -- ~7,000 works. Nearest station: Shibamata Sta., on the Keisei Kanamachi Line, very near the famous Yagiri-no-Watashi boat crossing. The best-kept secret about this fireworks display is that although most people arrive by train from the west side of the river which is the main viewing area (and thus is CRAZY crowded), they open up the golf course on the east side, allowing folks to spread out their plastic sheets on the fresh cool, green grass. I didn't have anyone within 30 ft. of me while filming this ! Don't miss the finale !

July 10, 2012 - It's Mt. Fuji Climbing Season!!

The 2-month Mt. Fuji climbing season officially began on July 1st. If you're planning to climb Mt. Fuji, you definitely need to check out my recently updated Climbing Mt. Fuji FAQ page. Over the past several weeks, this page has become the most visited on my entire site. Hoo wah!! 

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

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

July 9, 2012 - THIRSTY?!

Fun art from LA... smiley

LA fun art

July 6, 2012 - TODAY'S LESSON: A Lesson in Irony

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be now distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever to over 46 million people, 1 out of every 7 Americans, and a remarkable 45% jump since Jan. 2009.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

This ends today's lesson.

beer bear

July 5, 2012 - University of Texas Ranked No. 30 Among World Universities

The Center for World University Rankings has ranked The University of Texas at Austin No. 30 in its inaugural list of the world’s top 100 universities. The ranking combines seven factors — educational quality, faculty quality, alumni employment, patents, publishing, faculty research citations, and influence. (

UT Austin plaque

July 3, 2012 - 2012 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff

If any presidential candidate were truly serious about eliminating government waste, one of the first targets would undoubtedly have to be the White House, where an incredible 468 staff account for a mind-numbing payroll of nearly $38 million.

In an annual report to congress, it was revealed that the Obama White House has a remarkable 139 employees who earn $100,000 (800万円) or more per year. The top salary, $172,200 (1376万円), is paid to 19 of the president’s senior aides, including Chief of Staff Jack Lew; senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe; press secretary Jay Carney; John Brennan, assistant to the president on homeland security and counter-terrorism; and Christina Tchen, chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, There are 12 employees on the first lady’s staff.

Mr. Obama has 22 assistants, 24 deputy assistants, and 68 special assistants. He even has a chief calligrapher, who is paid $96,725, and an ethics adviser who earns $136,134. In the midst of the Great Recession when tens of millions of Americans face certain destitution, earning less than subsistence wages, and when even those with advanced college degrees must resort to stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald’s cheeseburgers, one can only question why just one man, who after 3½ years has accomplished so little and has played over 100 rounds of golf, really & truly would need so much help. Source:

2012 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff
             2012 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff
                (click image above to view larger, clearer chart)

Tokyo Weather/Sky
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