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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.


Oct. 5, 2019 - The Texas Food Pyramid

From the bottom up, pecan pie, Blue Bell ice cream, Texas BBQ, tacos, chicken-fried steak, Mexican food, and of course, at the very top, STEAK! laughing icon

Texas food pyramid
The Texas Food Pyramid
(image credit: "Texas Dreaming" Facebook page)




Sept. 16, 2019 - Video of my Sept. 2019 Houston, Texas vacation

It's always great to get back to my hometown at least once a year, so I can catch up on Tex-Mex, Texas BBQ, delicious Gulf Coast seafood, and of course, re-learn my southern drawl Texican accent, ha-ha! laughing icon Pics of my Houston vacation are here.



Video of my Sept. 2019 Houston vacation
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

​0:00 Takeoff from Tokyo Narita Airport (check out all the patchwork rice paddies and the Pacific Ocean waves reached only 4 min. from takeoff)
4:12 United Airlines real-time flight tracker map (NRT to IAH)
5:49 Landing at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
9:53 LJ tells story next to lake on Windlinger Ranch in Kerrville
10:25 Sunrise panorama from Simba Point on the ranch
11:01 Early morning 360-degree panorama of lake, ranch house, & lake house
12:36 Sat. morning Catholic mass service on ranch
12:39 Beautiful garden outside of ranch house
12:54 World-champion fly fisherman BR angles for the biggest fish in the lake
13:42 Splashing fun in a Houston swimming pool
13:49 Basketball dribbling wizardry
14:10 Panorama of Houston skyline & Hermann Park from Texas Medical Center
14:39 LJ tells story in Houston's La Fiesta restaurant
15:33 Beautiful nighttime-illuminated arch bridges on Houston's Southwest Freeway
16:35 MANY Japanese beckoning cats (招き猫, まねきねこ) above Yume Asian Kitchen, Terminal E, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
17:21 Q, the amazing, all-new Texas barbecue smokehouse, featuring a LONG bar with 2 towers that showcase a variety of whiskeys in the Houston airport Terminal E
18:42 Takeoff from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (includes views of the downtown Houston skyline & the Galleria area)
24:14 United Airlines real-time flight tracker map (IAH to NRT)
25:52 Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport (check out my plane's shadow on the ground!)




Sept. 15, 2019 - My pics of Dubfest VII, Kerrville, Texas, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2019

​Granted, there are many beautiful places all over the world, ​​but even after nearly 3 decades in Dai Nippon, there’s a little slice of heaven right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country that still touches my heart in a very profound way. On our friends' 263-acre (106 ha) Kerrville ranch, all our college buddies gather together every September to reminisce old times and to enjoy nature at its finest.

Deer, foxes, wild pigs, wild turkeys, a lake full of fish, the clearly visible Milky Way in the nighttime sky, and pristine, clean air to breathe are just a few of the many therapeutic benefits of spending an entire weekend on this beautiful piece of God's green earth.

I sincerely hope my pics will give you at least a small sense of the many wonders of this beautiful place…





Aug. 25, 2019 - Video of my August 7-21, 2019 Hokkaido Adventure

Video highlights include the absolutely gorgeous waterfalls, including my personal favorite, the Oshinkoshin Waterfall; the first time I can ever recall seeing fireworks released by speed boat where the fireworks shoot up directly from the surface of the water; interesting forest trees lined up in rows on Nakanoshima Island in Lake Toya; and a panorama of the stunning nighttime view from atop Mt. Hakodate, which is ranked one of the best night views in the world. I hope you enjoy!



Video of my August 7-21, 2019 Hokkaido Adventure
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

0:00 Shirahige Waterfall
0:54 Ryusei Waterfall
1:41 Ginga Waterfall
2:46 Oshinkoshin Waterfall
4:00 Kumagoe-no-taki Waterfall
4:51 Timelapse sunset from Oronkoiwa Rock Observatory
5:23 Panorama from Bihoro Pass above Lake Kussharo
5:44 Lake Akan Bokke Mud Volcano
7:25 Lake Onneto Yu-no-taki Waterfall
8:47 Wild deer grazing streetside in Akanko Onsen residential area
9:29 Red-crowned cranes in Akan International Crane Center
11:28 Red-crowned cranes in Kushiro City Red-crowned Crane Natural Park
13:01 Panorama of Lake Shikotsu
13:24 Panorama of Lake Toya
13:47 Lake Toya fireworks show
16:41 Inside Usuzan Ropeway
18:53 Interesting forest trees lined up in rows on Nakanoshima Island in Lake Toya
19:50 Arrival of Espoir cruise boat at Nakanoshima Island in Lake Toya
21:55 Nighttime panorama atop Mt. Hakodate, ranked one of the world's best night views




Aug. 24, 2019 - Pics of my August 7-21, 2019 Hokkaido Adventure

Without question, one of the most exciting adventures of my entire life. 15 days, 2812 km (1750 mi), 6 national parks, a quasi-national park, and an uncountable number of national forests in Japan's last unspoiled wilderness frontier. I hope you enjoy my pics. Video coming soon!





Aug. 21, 2019 - Sun Pillar Park, Hokkaido

Just returned back from a wonderful 15-day road trip around Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Stay tuned for more exciting pics!

Sun Pillar Park, Hokkaido
Sun Pillar Park, Hokkaido




July 31, 2019 - In Loving Memory of Don Davis

6 years ago today one of my best Tokyo buddies went to be with the Lord. Don Davis was one of the kindest, most sincere, and humorous people I've ever known.

Not only did he touch my life and his countless friends in a very profound way, but as a longtime entertainer in English education stage shows conducted in public halls all over Japan and a teacher for the young mentally-challenged, he also enriched the lives of thousands of young Japanese children thru the years.

We love you and miss you, Don, and haven't forgotten you. Hope all is well up there on the big playground in the sky... hearts emoji


Don Davis - World Family News
In Loving Memory of Don Davis (right)
June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013




July 28, 2019 -  Quote of the Day

"I've noticed that worrying is like praying for what you don't want to happen."

—Robert Downey, Jr.—




July 21, 2019 - Burger King ripoff of the century!

​After receiving a new sheet of Burger King coupons recently, I was so excited to try out their new Spicy Shrimp Whopper. Well, I got my chance the other day and before biting into my Spicy Shrimp Whopper Junior, I decided to open it up and check out the shrimp.

Oh boy, was I in for a great disappointment! Unlike the gorgeous marketing photo, there were just 2 tiny little shrimp barely covering the meat patty. Reminded me of those old "Where’s the beef?" Wendy’s TV commercials. laughing icon

My complaint to the manager yielded no results, as he was very adamant that the Whopper Junior is supposed to contain only the 2 tiny little shrimp! UGH!

Well, boycotting food establishments is not my style, but in my opinion, this definitely gives Burger King a black eye. And I will definitely keep this false advertising incident in mind in the future, which sadly is all too common among fast food restaurants in Tokyo. frownie

 Burger King spicy shrimp whopper
Burger King false advertising incident
(slick marketing photo vs. reality!)




July 11, 2019 - All 4 Mt. Fuji trails are now open all the way to the summit

On the occasion of yesterday morning's opening of all 4 Mt. Fuji trails all the way to the summit to officially kick off Mt. Fuji's 2019 climbing season, I was reminded today by Facebook's Memories page of one of my most prized "get lucky" snapshots of Japan's tallest & holiest peak and World Heritage Site.

It was taken just before sunrise on Aug. 14, 2011 from 60 km (37 mi.) away, just below Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's 2nd highest peak. Happy trails to all of this year's climbers!

Mt. Fuji at sunrise
Mt. Fuji before sunrise, taken Aug. 14, 2011 from below Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's 2nd highest peak




July 3, 2019 - Half-price sale on my mountain climbing eBooks!

In celebration of the July 1st opening of the official Mt. Fuji climbing season and Smashword's Summer/Winter Sale this month, my 2 mountain climbing eBooks are selling this month only for HALF-PRICE! So please act NOW to get your copies before 7/31!

Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie eBooks, offers a catalog of over 400,000 vetted, well-formatted eBooks from over 100,000 authors and publishers. Their eBooks can be read online or downloaded instantly to your e-reading device in any of the 8 different formats.





June 27, 2019 - Another rough night in Tokyo

This pic was taken around 7:30 am at a Tokyo bus stop. I could've sworn he looked just like one of my Japanese university students... laughing icon

Passed out Japanese student in Tokyo
Passed out Japanese student in Tokyo




June 8, 2019 - Are you a Twit Face? laughing icon


Are you a Twit Face?




May 19, 2019 - Spring 2019 Tokyo Flowers

If you ever find yourself too stressed out, I hope these beautiful flowers will help soothe your soul as much as they have mine...



Spring 2019 Tokyo Flowers
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




May 16, 2019 - Why are the Japanese growing light bulbs on rice terraces in Wajima, Ishikawa?

In March 2007 the powerful Noto earthquake hit this area, injuring more than 300 people and causing 1 death. As a memorial, people initially placed millions of candles around the rice fields in Shiroyone Senmaida (1000 rice fields, 千枚田), where the rice terraces slope down toward the Sea of Japan.

Due to the popularity of the spectacle, the candles were later replaced with solar LED lanterns—and the tradition continues today. Every year the lanterns are installed at the end of September and are left up through March when work on the rice fields begins again.

The fields remain lit for about 4 hours after sunset, changing colors from pink to green, gold, and blue every 15 to 30 minutes. The 4 colors represent the 4 seasons of Wajima, which is located at the tip of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

solar LEDs in Wajima, Ishikawa rice fields
Solar LEDs in Wajima, Ishikawa rice fields
(photo credit: Getty Images)




April 30, 2019 - Spring flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園)

This amazing 200-hectare park, right on the Pacific coast and only 2 hours from Tokyo by train, is without question one of the most remarkable parks I've ever seen. The park is most famous for its 4.5 million "baby blue eyes" flowers (nemophila), whose translucent-blue petals peak every spring during Golden Week, drawing TOO many tourists. The park features blooming flowers in all 4 seasons including a million daffodils, 170 varieties of tulips, narcissuses, poppies, roses, zinnias, sunflowers, kochia (summer cypress), and cosmos flowers. The park also includes cycling trails on an exclusive right-of-way and a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel.
Park website: https://hitachikaihin.jp/en.html

Baby Blue Eyes flowers
Baby Blue Eyes flowers
View my entire Flickr album here:
Hitachi Seaside Park (ひたち海浜公園) 




April 21, 2019 - Japanese target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ)

Target bird golf is a fun sport among elderly Japanese who use a badminton birdie (shuttlecock) for the golf "ball." The folks in this video were enjoying a round of target bird golf along the banks of the Shin-Nakagawa river in Tokyo on Sun. morning April 14, 2019 during the peak of cherry blossom season.


Japanese target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

I was 1st introduced to target bird golf 6 years ago on the banks of the Edogawa river. Here's my video I made that day.




April 16, 2019 - Today's inspirational quote

"Live your second childhood today and mentally relive the days when as a child you ran free, when there were infinite possibilities of what you could feel, accomplish, and see in the world. Allow for the energy of your remembered freedom to thunder through you, and you will free yourself from the false obstacles your adult life has put in your path. Today is the day to play!"

—Michael Bernard Beckwith—




April 9, 2019 - 2019 Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossoms (千鳥ヶ淵の桜)

After all these years, Tokyo's Chidorigafuchi Park is still one of my favorite cherry blossom viewing spots. If you get a chance, please check out the rest of my pics at Flickr.

2019 Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossoms (千鳥ヶ淵の桜)
2019 Chidorigafuchi Cherry Blossoms (千鳥ヶ淵の桜)
(Click link above to view entire photo album.)




April 2, 2019 - Here’s a retirement speech you don’t want to hear from your boss:

"As a symbol of our gratitude, we'd like to present you this special gold watch to serve as a reminder of your many years with the company. It needs a lot of winding up, is always a little late, and every day at quarter to five, it stops working." laughing icon







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Website Updates

Oct 12, 2019

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

Page 2 of the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, weather, and climber stories.

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

Oct 06, 2019

The Texas Food Pyramid

From the bottom up, pecan pie, Blue Bell ice cream, Texas BBQ, tacos, chicken-fried steak, Mexican food, and of course, at the very top, STEAK! :-)

(click link to view pic of the Texas Food Pyramid)

Continue reading "The Texas Food Pyramid"

Oct 06, 2019

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"

Oct 06, 2019

Climbing Mt. Fuji was definitely worth the effort!

In preparing for my Mt Fuji climb, I came across this website which was completely invaluable. Thank you so much for the wealth of information! I thought

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji was definitely worth the effort!"

Sep 29, 2019

Is it possible to climb Mt. Shirouma-dake in late Oct. - early Nov.?

Hi there. Is it impossible to climb Mt. Shirouma in late Oct. - early Nov.?

Continue reading "Is it possible to climb Mt. Shirouma-dake in late Oct. - early Nov.?"

Sep 19, 2019

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.

Continue reading "The Highest Mountains in Japan"

Sep 16, 2019

Video of my Sept. 2019 Houston, Texas vacation

It's always great to get back to my hometown at least once a year, so I can catch up on Tex-Mex, Texas BBQ, delicious Gulf Coast seafood, and of course, re-learn my southern drawl Texican accent, ha-ha! :-)

(click link to view pics & video of my Houston vacation)

Continue reading "Video of my Sept. 2019 Houston, Texas vacation"

Sep 15, 2019

Q: Where can I read some personal stories and opinions, both pro and con, by hikers who've actually climbed up Mt. Fuji?

A: Here are a select few, in (more or less) reverse chronological order: Mt. Fuji Climb, Mt. Fuji - Fujinomiya Trail 5th Station, Climbing Mt Fuji worth the effort, Climbing Mt. Fuji in One Day on a Budget, My Mt. Fuji Experience… (and why you should climb Mt. Fuji), Conquering Mt. Fuji and Mother Nature, Climbing Mount Fuji from Sea to Summit, in Photos, A Breathtaking Sunrise and A Fantastic Experience to The Peak of Mt. Fuji...

(click link to read more)

Continue reading "Q: Where can I read some personal stories and opinions, both pro and con, by hikers who've actually climbed up Mt. Fuji?"

Sep 15, 2019

My pics of Dubfest VII, Kerrville, Texas, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2019

​Granted, there are many beautiful places all over the world, ​​but even after nearly 3 decades in Dai Nippon, there’s a little slice of heaven right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country that still touches my heart in a very profound way. On our friends' 263-acre (106 ha) Kerrville ranch, all our college buddies gather together every September to reminisce old times and to enjoy nature at its finest.

Deer, foxes, wild pigs, wild turkeys, a lake full of fish, the clearly visible Milky Way in the nighttime sky, and pristine, clean air to breathe are just a few of the many therapeutic benefits of spending an entire weekend on this beautiful piece of God's green earth.

I sincerely hope my pics will give you at least a small sense of the many wonders of this beautiful place…

(click link to view pics)

Continue reading "My pics of Dubfest VII, Kerrville, Texas, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2019"

Sep 14, 2019

Mt. Fuji's official climbing season finished on Sept. 10, 2019

Note: Mt. Fuji's official climbing season finished on Sept. 10, 2019 ​with disastrous results. On August 26 a 29-year-old Russian woman died after being struck by a falling rock on the Yoshida Trail near Mt. Fuji's summit, and on September 9th the strong Typhoon Faxai (#15) pounded the Tokyo area, making landfall in nearby Chiba Prefecture with wind speeds over 200 km/hr and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without electrical power for at least a week.

Off-season climbing of Japan's highest and holiest peak is strongly discouraged, for a million reasons. The main Yoshida Trail is scheduled to re-open again on July 1, 2020.

Continue reading "Mt. Fuji's official climbing season finished on Sept. 10, 2019"

Sep 14, 2019

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)"

Sep 12, 2019

Is it possible to do a night hike up Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake?

Is it possible to do a night hike and reach the summit at sunrise for Oku-hotaka-dake? Like one could do at Mt. Fuji.

Continue reading "Is it possible to do a night hike up Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake?"

Aug 26, 2019

How else can I get to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station from Shinjuku on a Sunday morning?

Hi Gary, Your website has been a very valuable resource in helping me plan my trip to Japan and Mt. Fuji. Q: If I cannot get the desired morning bus

Continue reading "How else can I get to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station from Shinjuku on a Sunday morning?"

Aug 25, 2019

Any suggestions for approx. 3 day moderately difficult hike in July?

Hi Gary. We would like to do a 3 day (or slightly longer) hike in July. We hike quite a bit in New Zealand, since we live here, and we have done the

Continue reading "Any suggestions for approx. 3 day moderately difficult hike in July?"

Aug 25, 2019

Video of my August 7-21, 2019 Hokkaido Adventure

Video highlights include the absolutely gorgeous waterfalls, including my personal favorite, the Oshinkoshin Waterfall; the first time I can ever recall seeing fireworks released by speed boat where the fireworks shoot up directly from the surface of the water; interesting forest trees lined up in rows on Nakanoshima Island in Lake Toya; and a panorama of the stunning nighttime view from atop Mt. Hakodate, which is ranked one of the best night views in the world. I hope you enjoy!

(click link to view video)

Continue reading "Video of my August 7-21, 2019 Hokkaido Adventure"





Pattaya ebook cover
Just released!
Only $1.99 at Amazon
(¥214 at アマゾン日本)




Alaska ebook cover
Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥340 at アマゾン日本)




Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
Only 99¢ at Amazon (¥105 at アマゾン日本)


What's New?

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

    Oct 12, 19 11:14 PM

    Page 2 of the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, weather, and climber stories.

    Read more

  2. The Texas Food Pyramid

    Oct 06, 19 05:58 AM

    From the bottom up, pecan pie, Blue Bell ice cream, Texas BBQ, tacos, chicken-fried steak, Mexican food, and of course, at the very top, STEAK! :-) (click link to view pic of the Texas Food Pyramid)

    Read more

  3. Gary J. Wolff's Blog

    Oct 06, 19 05:51 AM

    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.

    Read more









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GW's road trip ebook cover
Only 99¢ at Amazon
(¥114 at アマゾン日本)




new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥343 at アマゾン日本)




Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥343 at アマゾン日本)