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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2023

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
April-June, 2023

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from April-June, 2023.



June 25, 2023 - Whatever happened to the winter flu seasons in 2021 & 2022?

flu detections by subtype
Influenza detections by subtype reported to FluNet,
a World Health Organization virological data collection tool

June 22, 2023 - How to make a small origami box in just 1 minute!

How to make a small origami box in just 1 minute!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

June 12, 2023 - Fresh Spring Greenery (新緑) in Tokyo

I'm still busy snapping away at Tokyo's non-stop display of stunning spring flowers & my ever-growing Flickr album is now up to 214 pics.

And I am so blown away every year by the beautiful fresh spring greenery (shinryoku, 新緑) that I decided to go ahead and start a new album:
(as if the 155 albums already on my Flickr page were not enough!) laughing icon

fresh spring greenery in tokyo
Fresh Spring Greenery (新緑) in Tokyo
(click link above to view full Flickr album)

Related to enjoying fresh spring greenery is the ancient Japanese healing art known as forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku (森林浴 - shinrin meaning “forest,” and yoku meaning “bath” in Japanese). By immersing ourselves in the forest atmosphere and enjoying nature through our senses, there are many health benefits.

Especially in spring when all the fresh greenery appears, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are being emitted by the surrounding trees and plants, and we can connect with nature by slowly and mindfully walking in a forest environment to stimulate all 6 senses.

By smelling, touching, listening, looking, and tasting, this total sensory experience will in turn release our sense of joy and calm, stimulating the 6th sense, our state of mind.

And in doing so, we can truly connect with nature & hopefully reap many powerful side benefits including fighting cancer, uplifting our mood, calming the nervous system, treating illnesses, and strengthening the immune system.

May 31, 2023 - Jambo Tama River Hike & Party, May 28, 2023

Hiking Course: Kori Station (古里駅) on JR Ōme Line (青梅線) to Okutama Station (奥多摩駅) plus after-hike Party near Mitake Station (御嶽駅)

(organized & led by the amazing David & Miki Howenstein of Jambo International:

Jambo Tama River Hike & Party, May 28, 2023
Jambo Tama River Hike & Party, May 28, 2023
(click link or pic above to view full Flickr album)

May 20, 2023 - Immigration to the USA by country, 1820-2023

​Immigration to the USA by country, 1820-2023
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

U.S. immigration flows by country, 1820s to 2010s
U.S. immigration flows by country, 1820s to 2010s

May 18, 2023 - A Texan's Map of the United States

As is often said, you can take the boy outta Texas, but you can never take Texas outta the boy, ha ha. smiley And we Texicans are very proud folks... after all, EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas... big houses, big cars, big buildings, big people, big Texas longhorns... yes, big everything.

And this very old postcard cracks me up every time. Just LOVE the nicknames given the other states. Funny stuff! laughing icon

A Texan's map of the U.S.
A Texan's map of the United States
(photo credit:

May 9, 2023 - Rei Banno, 11-year-old Japanese Girl, Prepares to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

Rei Banno, an 11-year-old Japanese girl, is gearing up to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

For the young climber living in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, climbing the 5,895-meter mountain in Tanzania is what she has "always dreamed of." Rei and her mother hope to travel to Africa as early as this summer, if they manage to secure funds for the journey.

Rei became a mountain lover when she participated in a local mountain climbing event at the age of 4 and completed a 43-kilometer traverse course along the Yatsugatake mountain range that straddles Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures at the age of 7.

She spends weekends touring mountains across Japan together with her 48-year-old mother, Naomi, and friends. Rei is currently in the midst of her challenge to conquer the 300 famous mountains in Japan and has already conquered the 100 most famous mountains in Yamanashi at the age of 6.

Rei began voicing her desire to climb Kilimanjaro around the time when she was 7 years old and has high hopes for the journey, including communicating with guides and other climbers.

She also wants to eventually complete the 7 summits, the tallest peaks on each of the 7 continents.


Rei Banno
Rei Banno, 11-year-old Japanese mountain climber
(photo credit:

April 29, 2023 - Happy Golden Week!

Yep, it's that magical time of year again. Today, Showa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa no Hi), is a national holiday in Japan and kicks off the week-long holiday period known as Golden Week, often abbreviated simply as GW.

Well, GW has another meaning in my life.... not only my initials but also my nickname, courtesy of my most beloved family and friends since my childhood days.

Needless to say, GW is one of my favorite times of the year in Japan because everywhere you look, my nickname is plastered on countless advertising signs all over the city. It's nice to be so famous, ha ha.

The sign below I spotted a few years ago at the local KFC. Yee hah! laughing icon

KFC GW sign in Tokyo
KFC GW sign in Tokyo

And how could we forget about the gorgeous koinobori (鯉幟, carp streamers)? To celebrate Children's Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi), May 5, one of the 4 national holidays during this week-long holiday period, "koinobori (鯉幟)," or carp streamers, are flown around the country in honor of Japanese children in the hope that they will grow up healthy, strong, & happy.

A typical koinobori set consists of, from the top of the pole down, a pair of arrow-spoked wheels (矢車, yaguruma) with a ball-shaped spinning vane, a mounting windsock (吹流し, fukinagashi), and finally the koinobori. For the windsock above the koinobori, one kind is the 5-colored windsock (五色吹流し), based on the 5 elements of Chinese philosophy.

Nowadays the koinobori typically consist of the biggest (black) koinobori for the father of the family, next biggest (red or pink) for the mother, and an additional, smaller carp of a different color for each child in decreasing order by age.

Koinobori (鯉幟, carp streamers) for Children's Day, May 5, 2023
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

April 25, 2023 - Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers (チームラボプラネッツ)

"A seasonal year of flowers bloom and change with time, life spreads out into the universe. Flowers grow, bud, bloom, and in time, the petals fall, and the flowers wither and die. The cycle of birth and death continues for perpetuity. The artwork is not a pre-recorded image that is played back; it is created by a computer program that continuously renders the artwork in real time. As a whole, it is continuously changing, and previous visual states are never replicated. The universe at this moment in time can never be seen again."

teamLab Planets Tokyo:

Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers (チームラボプラネッツ)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

April 16, 2023 - JR Station Booths in Tokyo

JR Station Booth in Tokyo
JR Station Booth in Tokyo

How 'bout a private work space at a Tokyo JR train station? These station booths are popping up across Japan's capital, providing commuters a chance to conduct business too urgent to wait till they get to the office. smiley

The booths can be reserved from 7:00-21:30 & are rentable for ¥275 per 15 minutes, payable by credit card, Suica transport IC card, etc. They come equipped with power supply, dedicated Wi-Fi, USB, & a screen for video calls.

More info (in Japanese) is here:  

Inside a JR Station Booth
Inside a JR Station Booth
(photo credit:

April 3, 2023 - Retirement speech

Having recently acquired "retired" status, today I was reminded of a retirement speech I'm so happy I didn't hear from MY 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

Japan-Texas ebook cover thumbnail
A FREE download at Smashwords

Pattaya ebook cover
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

    May 18, 24 10:04 AM

    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. Quote of the Day

    May 18, 24 07:40 AM

    "Trying to help people understand what's going on right now is like going back into a burning building to pull someone out. Only to have them keep punching you in the face and demand evidence that the…

    Read more

  3. Coalition of 22 State AGs Call on Biden to Reject Treaty Drastically Expanding WHO Authority

    May 15, 24 07:27 AM

    A coalition of 22 state attorneys general have sent a letter to Joe Biden voicing their opposition to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposed pandemic treaty and amendments to the International…

    Read more

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Gary J. Wolff
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GW's road trip ebook cover
Only 99¢ from 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)