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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, July-September, 2013

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
July-September, 2013

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



Sept. 29, 2013 - Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑)

The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑) is one of my favorite places in Tokyo to escape the concrete jungle. I've never left there without feeling mentally relaxed and at peace. The rest of my garden pics are here:

Kyugoryotei Taiwan Pavilion
Kyugoryotei Taiwan Pavilion

The garden's wikipedia page is here:

Sept. 23, 2013 - Climbing Mt. Fuji eBook release

new "Climbing Mt. Fuji" book
Now available from and (日本語)

As promised, the electronic version of my new Climbing Mt. Fuji book is now available @ Amazon for your reading pleasure. If you don't own a Kindle (neither do I), with the free Kindle reading app, you can have my eBook sent automatically to your Android phone or tablet, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, or even to your PC or Mac.

With this reading app, you can also sample for free the beginning of the book thru Chapter 1.

Catch the Mt. Fuji fever!! smiley


Sept. 21, 2013 - Video of my Texas vacation - Sept. 5-17, 2013

By all means, don't miss the cute fox @ 11:28 and the AAA "Send Help" sign @ 12:22! smiley

(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 United Airlines real-time flight tracker map
1:42 Landing @ Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
3:22 Departing on our road trip to Kerrville
4:27 Wild squirrel on the 263-acre Windlinger Ranch
4:55 Sunrise prairie land panorama
5:15 Goat Creek, a tributary of the Guadalupe River
6:10 Fish in Goat Creek
6:53 LJ slicing watermelon
7:16 Preparing breakfast in the guest house
7:26 Shooting the bull @ breakfast time
7:58 Lakeside relaxing & chatting
8:34 JP's amazing BBQ chicken & sausage
11:14 Group 60th birthday party
11:28 Wild fox (CUTE!)
11:49 Sunrise on the ranch
12:06 Final lakeside visiting prior to hitting the highway
12:22 AAA "Send Help" sign (PRICELESS!)
13:03 Russ Pitman Park
13:40 Mom's pets: Cleo, Chance, & Rammy
14:55 Rammy gets a foot massage
15:36 Takeoff from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
17:58 Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport (audio got muted due to crying baby in row directly behind me) smiley

Sept. 20, 2013 - My Texas vacation pics - Sept. 5-17, 2013

Houston trip - Gary & Mom
The apple didn't fall far from the tree. smiley

The other 108 pics from my 10 fabulous days in Texas are here:

Sept. 19, 2013 - The full monty

Osakan Rie Gomita could have trouble landing an ALT (assistant language teacher) job in Japan with this irezumi (刺青, traditional tattoo) ensemble. smiley

Sept. 18, 2013 - Guy finds his house plumbed with beer

Does this crazy effort from New Zealand win best prank of all time? These guys plumbed a bunch of kegs into their buddy's house so that every tap flowed with ice cold beer. What do you think? Great prank or greatest prank?

(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Sept. 2, 2013 - Hot off the press! New "Climbing Mt. Fuji" book!

With a near-perfect volcanic cone and snow-capped most of the year, Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest peak and affectionately referred to by the Japanese as Fuji-san, is considered one of the world's most beautiful mountains. Mt. Fuji is climbed by at least 300,000 people every year and, including the hundreds of thousands of tourists who travel up to the 5th Stations for sightseeing & don't even climb the peak, it comes as no surprise that Mt. Fuji is also generally regarded as the most visited mountain in the world. 

In this book, the author has shared information on things such as climbing trails, recommended clothing & gear, transport access, fun facts & recent news stories, some select questions and answers from his Climbing Mt. Fuji FAQ webpage, as well as some of the more remarkable stories & pics kindly shared by visitors to his website who’ve already scaled Mt. Fuji.

Unlike some other books written about Mt. Fuji which spend a lot of time talking about its history, culture, geology of the dormant volcano, and other non-climbing aspects of Japan’s iconic peak, the author has chosen instead to focus on providing just the essential information necessary for future climbers intent on scaling Fuji-san.

If in the future you’re planning to climb Japan’s highest peak, this book will likely prove to be a valuable resource.

Aug. 22, 2013 -  Ichiro did it!! 4000 hits!! (イチロー 日米通算4000安打達成)

WAY TO GO, ICHIRO!! Ichiro Suzuki collected his 4,000th hit (combined between the U.S. and Japanese Majors) on a single in his first at-bat against the Blue Jays. Only Pete Rose & Ty Cobb have more, with 4256 and 4191 hits, respectively.

(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Aug. 20, 2013 - Tokyo blue moon

Only once in a blue moon. smiley
6:33 pm, 8/20, Tokyo.
(Well, at least the SKY was blue!)

Tokyo blue moon

So what exactly is a "seasonal blue moon"? A less known definition of a blue moon is the 3rd of 4 full moons to fall in the same season, with a 'season' defined as the period of time in between a solstice and an equinox – or vice versa. Tuesday Aug. 20's full moon is the 3rd of 4 full moons to take place between the June 2013 solstice and the September 2013 equinox. That makes the August 20, 2013 full moon a Blue Moon! This phenomenon of 4 full moons in 1 season occurs on average in only 7 out of every 19 years.


Aug. 5, 2013 - 2013 Edogawa Fireworks Display (江戸川区花火大会)

Somehow, even in the midst of thousands of viewers, many of them trekking in front of my camera, smiley I was able to capture the entire 75 min. show. But if you'd like to just cut to the chase & see the most exciting parts, I recommend of course the opening display starting @ 0:30 & the AMAZING closing display starting @ 1:11:25, as well as other exciting displays starting @ 12:15, 18:30, 22:00, 31:10, 38:05, 41:20, 51:15, 59:00, & 1:01:45.

This fireworks festival was held on Saturday, August 3rd, 2013 from 7:15 pm to 8:30 pm. It is one of the biggest fireworks festivals in Japan, with a total number of 14,000 fireworks.

This amazing annual fireworks display is also called the Ichikawa Fireworks Festival, as it is a joint venture between Edogawa Ward, Tokyo & Ichikawa City, Chiba, which are separated by the Edo River where the fireworks show occurs.

(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

July 31, 2013 - Don Davis (June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013)

My wonderful longtime American friend has gone to be with the Lord at the ripe young age of only 60, after fighting a brief illness in a Tokyo hospital. Don was one of the most gracious human beings one could ever know, and was a longtime entertainer for young Japanese children in English education stage shows conducted in public halls all over Japan. He was also a teacher for the young mentally-challenged.

"People come and people go
Some leave footprints in the snow.
But in the end you may find
Some leave footprints in your mind."
--G.W. Hall--

And you left me many wonderful footprints, my dear friend. Love you, miss you, and will never forget you, Daaa. Rest in peace and have a ball up there on the big playground in the sky...

Don Davis, June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013
Don Davis, June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013
(click pic above to view larger image)

July 2016 update: A memorial tribute page for Don has been created: In Loving Memory of Don Davis

July 24, 2013 - Google Street View climbs Mt. Fuji

Want to climb to the top of Japan's tallest mountain without leaving your desk chair? If you've ever wondered what the top of Japan's 3776 m (12,389 ft) Mt. Fuji looks like, Google Maps can now show you. Earlier this month, Google sent a team up Mt. Fuji to get a "Street View" of the summit.

Using the Street View Trekker backpack device, equipped with a remarkable 15 cameras and carried on the back of team member Jiro Dohi, the Google team was able to capture a full range of 360-degree panoramic imagery from atop the mountain, making its visual treasures available to all for the first time.

They're hoping it will assist climbers who plan to venture up Japan's highest peak by providing a virtual glimpse into how trekkers make their way up the rocky terrain. The Street View collection covers the busiest & most popular Yoshida trail that takes hikers up the mountain, the full walk around the crater at the top, and the quick zigzag descent.

The video below shows the making of the Street View and here is the new 360-degree Street View panorama from the abandoned weather station atop Japan's actual highpoint:

(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

July 18, 2013 - Cultural Presentation Day

Foreign exchange university students in Japan make cultural comparisons between various countries in areas like jobs, dating & marriage, education, festivals, gift giving, visiting others' homes, currency systems, and differences in views on love.

Cultural Presentation Day - July 17, 2013
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video @ YouTube here.)

  0:00  Differences in views on love between Japan, Korea, and Italy
12:23  Dating, marriage, & gift giving in Korea, Thailand, & China
29:25  An 8-min. multicultural trip to Mexico & China
43:33  Jobs in Australia, Taiwan, & Japan

July 7, 2013 - Rambling Steve Gardner, Live @ the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

On Saturday night July 6, 2013, the rambling bluesman Steve Gardner from Mississippi & Kevin McHugh on the accordion performed free of charge @ the FCCJ (Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan) in Tokyo as part of the FCCJ's Saturday Night Live concert series.

The audience had the special treat of hearing Steve play his almost brand new, custom-made and specially painted National Reso-phonic Tri-cone guitar. Steve has just released his 6th CD, "Hesitation Blues," a collection of 20 traditional and original acoustic American roots and blues tunes.

Not only is Steve without question Tokyo's most accomplished harmonica playin' & finger pickin', slide playin' blues guitarist, he is also a university lecturer and has traveled to several universities around Japan, playing the blues and doing programs on Mississippi and southern U.S. culture.

If all that weren't enough, he's also a former professional photojournalist, and has published a stunning black and white picture book on Mississippi and the blues, showing the Mississippi that he grew up in, including its share croppers, good times and hard, and the musicians that treated him like both friend and family.

For more on Steve and his music, including his live gig schedule, head on over to:

If the player above is not visible,
you can view video in separate window here.

 0:00 Do That Right
 4:10 Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
 8:50 Midnight Special
13:05 Right Down That Road
16:40 Let The Good Times Roll
21:45 Hesitation Blues
26:45 Can't Go Down That Road By Myself
31:15 My Baby Done Gone
33:45 Puttin' On The Ritz
36:40 My Life Done Got Hard
40:35 Hey Good Lookin'
43:55 When My Bucket's Got A Hole In It
47:55 My Baby's So Far Away From Me
53:30 Salty Dog

July 1, 2013 - Let's Climb Fuji-san!!

It's official! As of 12:00 am today, the 2-month 2013 Mt. Fuji climbing season has begun. If you know anyone interested in climbing Mt. Fuji, recently registered as Japan's 17th World Heritage Site, they might be interested in my Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, the #1 most visited page on my entire website.

Snowy Mt. Fuji, taken June 22, 2013
Mt. Fuji (富士山), Japan's highest mountain
and the most visited mountain in the world
(the stunning pic above showing fresh snow
was taken Sat. June 22, 2013 by David Couvreur)

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
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(¥340 at アマゾン日本)

Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
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