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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2013

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
April-June, 2013

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from April-June, 2013.



June 24, 2013 - Reunion with my friends from North Carolina

It was a great pleasure meeting up @ Narita Airport with my longtime friends, the Cannons, and their lovely family from North Carolina. They were returning back to the states from an amazing 2-week China vacation.

Michael (white shirt), Ashleigh (red shirt), George (gray shirt), and I all used to teach at the same English conversation school here in Tokyo around 20 years ago. WOW!

 The Cannons @ Narita Airport
The Cannons @ Narita Airport

June 16, 2013 - Japanese university student English speech contest

For the 4th consecutive year, recently I was asked to help judge a university student English speech contest. These kids were truly amazing, giving up a whole Sunday to give a 7-min. speech in front of 100 people in a language that's not even their mother tongue...

Meiji speech contest
Meiji speech contest

June 7, 2013 - "The Bucket List" movie

I recently showed this movie to my English students. It's one of my all-time favorite flicks about 2 terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.

One of the best parts, I think, is toward the end of the movie when Carter Chambers (played by Morgan Freeman) writes a letter to his buddy Edward Cole (played by Jack Nicholson).  Here it is:

Carter: [in his letter to Edward] "Dear Edward, I've gone back and forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn't, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren't exactly hitting the sweetest notes---certainly wasn't the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I'm responsible and for that, I'm sorry. But in all honesty, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. There's no way I can repay you for all you've done for me, so rather than try, I'm just going to ask you to do something else for me---find the joy in your life. You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true---you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home."

If you haven't already, you MUST see this movie. Here's the trailer...

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May 27, 2013 - Sexy Japanese Flamenco Dancers...

...perform on Sat. May, 25, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Cue over to the 32:00 min. mark to see one of the most fantastic flamenco dances I think I've ever seen with my own eyes. Amazing...

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May 23, 2013 - Mid-Spring Japan, 3-day, 2,000-meter Mountain Visual Gear List

Late Spring 2013 weekend visual gear list

Compiled by Miguel Arboleda, a Kobe, Japan writer, illustrator, and university lecturer who's been deeply involved with ultralight backpacking for 18 years now.

May 20, 2013 - Kiyosumi Garden, Tokyo, Japan

Kiyosumi Garden, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's Kiyosumi Garden was established in 1878 by Yataro Iwasaki (岩崎 弥太郎), the founder of Mitsubishi, as a garden area for the enjoyment of his employees & entertainment of important guests. View entire 36-photo set here:

May 12, 2013 - North American English Dialects Map

North American English dialects map

How English is spoken in North America. On this amazing webpage by Rick Aschmann, you can zoom in on the large-scale dialect map & click on a U.S. state or Canadian province to listen to audio or video dialect samples for each location:

May 11, 2013 - Blessing or curse – You get to decide

white horse

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, because he owned a beautiful white horse. People offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the old man always refused. “This horse is a friend, not a possession,” he would respond.

One morning the horse was not in the stable. All the villagers said, “You old fool. We told you someone would steal that beautiful horse. You could at least have gotten the money. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Perhaps. All I know is that my horse is gone; the rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.”

After 15 days the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses back with him. Once again the village people gathered around the old man and said, “You were right – what we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

The old man responded, “Perhaps. Once again you’ve gone too far. How do you know if this is a blessing or a curse? Unless you can see the whole story, how can you judge?” But the people could only see the obvious. The old man now had twelve additional horses that could be broken and sold for a great deal of money.

The old man had a son, an only son. He began to work with the wild horses. Unfortunately, after just a few days, he fell from a horse and broke both his legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and said, “You were right. The wild horses were not a blessing; they were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs and now in your old age you have no one to help you. You are poorer than ever.” But the old man said,“ Perhaps. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. We have only a fragment of the whole story.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country went to war with a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he had two broken legs. Once again the people gathered around, crying because there was little chance their sons would return. “You were right, old man. Your son’s accident was a blessing. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are always quick to jump to conclusions. Only God knows the final story.”


May 5, 2013 - Kasai Rinkai Park on Children's Day

An absolutely magnificent Children's Day, a Japanese national holiday, in Kasai Rinkai Park, overlooking Tokyo Bay...

Kasai Rinkai Koen on Children's Day

May 4, 2013 - Spring has sprung in Tokyo...  smiley

spring flowers photo collage

April 28, 2013 - So long sun, hello moon

The 6:11 pm sunset & 9:27 pm moonrise in Tokyo, on what was probably the most beautiful day so far this year (and yesterday was just as nice).....high temp around 20 C (68 F), not a cloud in the sky, and humidity less than 30% most of the day. What a great way to kick off Golden Week...

April 28, 2013 sunset & moonrise in Tokyo
April 28, 2013 sunset & moonrise in Tokyo

April 22, 2013 - The new Shimokitazawa Station (下北沢駅) goes underground

For any longtime or former residents of Tokyo, or tourists who've ever visited the trendy Shimokitazawa (下北沢) area, they're sure to be surprised, as I certainly was yesterday, to see that the Odakyu train line (小田急電鉄), which has LONG been aboveground, is now a subway section as it passes thru Shimokitazawa Station (下北沢駅).

With its laid-back atmosphere and unique fashion, Shimokitazawa is usually considered to be one of Tokyo's hippest neighborhoods among young Japanese. The district is a center for stage theater and live music venues, and with its numerous cafes, boutiques, & funky shops, Shimokitazawa is especially popular with students and young people, and a mecca for artists of all genres.

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April 9, 2013 - Hints from a Successful 2012 Summit via Gotemba Trail and a 2009 Fail via Subashiri Trail

This amazing pic from the summit of Mt. Fuji was taken by Dr. David Wallace, an internationally-touring musician, a Grammy-nominated performer, an award-winning composer, a Juilliard professor, a New York Philharmonic Senior Teaching Artist, and fiddler of The Doc Wallace Trio. After an unsuccessful attempt in 2009, Dr. Wallace managed to scale Japan's highest peak on Aug. 20 of last year. Read his many helpful hints on climbing Mt. Fuji & view more stunning pics, as well as his breathtaking video, with his own electric viola as the background music, here.

Looking east from Mt. Fuji summit after sunrise
Looking east from Mt. Fuji summit after sunrise
Photo courtesy: Dr. David Wallace)

April 2, 2013 - My all-time favorite Japanese food --- negima yakitori

Regular yakitori (焼鳥) is bite-sized chicken pieces (sometimes beef or pork) grilled on a wooden or bamboo skewer. "Yaki (焼)" in Japanese means grilled or roasted & "tori (鳥)" means bird or chicken. Negima (ねぎま) means pieces of onion are inserted between the it's chicken, onion, chicken, onion, chicken. smiley

It reminds me of my dad's famous Texas BBQ, so I have some negima yakitori at least once a week. Usually they sell for around 100 yen per stick, or a little over US$1. Yum-yum!!  smiley

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April 1, 2013 - Japanese bicycle escalator in Tokyo - ONLY in Japan!! smiley

This bicycle escalator starts from the basement bicycle parking garage in the 45-story i-Link Tower near JR Ichikawa Station. Filmed April 1, 2013, but NO, it's not an April Fool's joke! smiley

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Japan-Texas ebook cover thumbnail
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Alaska ebook cover
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