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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, July-September, 2015

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
July-September, 2015

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from July-September, 2015.



Sept. 29, 2015 -   "It's just another day in paradise!"

Another lovely commute during Tokyo's morning crush hour! Can you tell that rain was in the forecast? smiley

Yoyogi-Uehara Station
Inbound platform, Yoyogi-Uehara Station

Sept. 22, 2015 - Pics of my Sept. 2-16 Texas vacation

One of the many highlights was my annual sojourn to the amazing 263-acre Windlinger Ranch in the gorgeous Texas hill country.

Swimming, boating, fishing, wild deer, pigs, foxes, and turkeys, the Milky Way, real live Texas BBQ, and rekindling 40-year friendships always results in a little slice of heaven right here on Planet Earth. I think the best way to describe it is "therapeutic."

Thanks always, J Dub & M Dub!

longtime pals reconnecting on the Windlinger Ranch
Longtime pals reconnecting on the Windlinger Ranch
(click HERE to view entire 150-pic Flickr album)

Aug. 31, 2015 - Japan wins 2015 Little League Baseball World Series!

THE BEST LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! Congrats to the kids from Tokyo Kitasuna, Japan who are the 2015 Little League Baseball World Series champions for the 3rd time after defeating Lewisberry, Pennsylvania 18-11 in the championship game on Sunday.

The Japan team's superstars were Shingo Tomita, who went 3 for 4 in the game with 2 home runs, 2 RBIs, and 4 runs scored, and Masafuji Nishijima, who helped secure Japan's victory with 6 RBIs & 4 hits, including a double & a homer.

Tokyo Kitasuna had 22 hits in the 6-inning game & 19 of the game's 29 runs were scored in the first inning and a half. Wow.

Japan was undefeated in the tourney, having won 4 straight games against Taiwan, Venezuela, and twice against Mexico, before finishing off U.S. champion Lewisberry, PA in the final game.

This is the 3rd time for Tokyo Kitasuna to become World Series champs, having previously won in 2012 & 2001. Since 1947, Japanese teams have now won the LLBWS 10 times. Besides Tokyo Kitasuna, Japanese World Series champs include Tokyo Musashi Fuchu in 2013 & 2003, Tokyo Edogawa Minami in 2010, Osaka Hirakata in 1999, Tokyo Chofu in 1976, Osaka Wakayama in 1968, & West Tokyo in 1967.

2015 Japan Little League Baseball World Series champs
2015 Japan Little League Baseball World Series champs
(photo credit:

Aug. 30, 2015 - An amazing, fairly new* weather visually track weather conditions around the globe

Created by Ivo, an interesting guy from the Czech Republic, who describes himself as an "addicted kiter, helicopter and jet pilot, who seeks the wind, waves, METARs and powder snow almost constantly."

* Nov. 2014

Aug. 22, 2015 - My 14-hr. day trip to the Mt. Fuji 5th (富士山五合目) & 6th Stations

On Thursday I climbed Mt. Fuji for the 3rd time. Well, this time only to the 5th Station. And by bus. smiley Since it'd been over 24 years since my last visit to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (富士スバルライン五合目), I felt it was time to go back and refresh my data. smiley

From the 5th Station, I hiked up to the 6th Station Safety Guidance Center, down past the Seikanso mountain hut (星観荘) to the Sato-goya mountain hut (左藤小屋) @ the Yoshidaguchi Trail 5th Station, then back to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station.

I also took time to hike around part of the Ochudo Nature Trail (御中道自然探勝路), a level course that partially circumnavigates the Mt. Fuji volcano. It was SO green & lush. I wanna go back!

It was a magnificent, fun-filled 6 hours on Japan's highest peak. I hope you enjoy my pics: Mt. Fuji 5th & 6th Stations - Aug. 20, 2015  

p.s. Be sure to click open the pics of the Mt. Fuji toilet paper & the Eruption Curry dish... smiley

Aug. 19, 2015 - 10 Reasons Why English is Weird

10 Reasons Why English is Weird
(image credit:

Aug. 12, 2015 - Japanese Engrish

When I first moved to Japan, I believed the preponderance of these kinds of signs somehow signified a certain degree of job security for those of us in the "Engrish" education business, but 24 years later I'm not so sure. If there's no shame in posting such a poorly translated sign, I'm guessing this sort of thing will continue forever....whether it be in a store, on a T-shirt, in a train station, or in this case, by a city government.

But it definitely livens up everyday life in Japan, offering the occasional, unexpected chuckle! smiley

sidewalk becomes small
"Sidewalk becomes small" sign smiley

Aug. 3, 2015 - Japanese university English speech contest

This university's ESS (English speaking society) holds a speech contest every June, a recitation contest just for college freshmen, where they recite from memory a famous speech from history, like JFK's inaugural address, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement address, etc. These kids were AMAZING!! And it was my honor to be able to help judge the contest again this year.

Japanese university English speech contest

Japanese university English speech contest
Japanese university English speech contest

Aug. 2, 2015 - 2-min. Finale to 2015 Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival

The 40th Annual Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival (第40回江戸川区花火大会) was held Sat. August 1, 2015 from 19:15–20:30 pm along the Edogawa riverside in Tokyo. About 14,000 fireworks decorated the night sky with synchronized music. In Ichikawa, on the Chiba side of the river, it’s known as the Ichikawa City Nohryo Fireworks Festival.

2-min. Finale to the 40th Annual Edogawa/Ichikawa Fireworks Festival
held on Sat. August 1, 2015 from 19:15–20:30 pm.
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Aug. 1, 2015 - "Find My iPhone" app tracks cellphone that fell out of plane at 9,300 ft. - and it STILL WORKS!

A Wichita Falls, Texas businessman used the "Find My iPhone" app to find his iPhone in a rural pasture after it fell about 9,300 feet (~2834 m) during a flight from Houston.

Ben Wilson says he and a pilot were traveling home Monday in a Beechcraft Bonanza when a pressure change caused the passenger door to open slightly. Wilson didn't realize his cellphone fell out until after landing.

Wilson owns Gas Corporation of America in Wichita Falls. He and an employee used Apple's Find My iPhone app to narrow the search to near Jacksboro, more than 50 miles away.

The pair set on their search Tuesday, and ended up in a rural pasture. They found the cellphone, still working, under a mesquite tree.

Source: Wichita Falls Times Record News

flying iphone
Ben Wilson is reunited with his iPhone that survived
a 9,300-foot (~2834 m) drop from an airplane
(photo credit: Chris Walker, Wichita Falls Times Record News)

July 29, 2015 - Taco Bell reaches Japanese shores!

Today I FINALLY got around to checking out the new Taco Bell in Shibuya. For the first time since the 80s, Taco Bell is officially doing business in Japan, with their first shop on a narrow side street from Dogenzaka Avenue in Shibuya. Although this shop opened in April, I kept reading of these massive waiting lines, so I decided to wait.

Even today @ 3 pm on a Wed. afternoon, the place was packed. My friend had a shrimp & avocado burrito and pork taco supreme, and I had a fajita burrito and beef taco supreme. It set me back nearly ¥1900 (~$15). OUCH, but hey, it's TACO BELL IN JAPAN!! smiley

Other U.S. restaurant chains, including Carl’s Jr. and Shake Shack, also have plans to enter the Japanese market, hoping to attract increasing numbers of foreign visitors ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Taco Bell aims to open 15 outlets nationwide within 5 years.

Japanese Taco Bell sign
Taco Bell sign in Shibuya, Tokyo

Japanese Taco Bell menu
Taco Bell menu in Shibuya, Tokyo

Taco Bell Japan

July 19, 2015 - Boys & girls, please don't try this at home!

The stunning video below shows mountain biker Jamie Nicoll crashing into other riders right after the start of the UCC Mégavalanche downhill glacier race held in the Central French Alps ski resort of Alpe d’Huez.

Starting at Le Pic Blanc Peak (elev. 3300 m) at the top of Sarenne Glacier & finishing at Allemont (elev. 720 m), the Mégavalanche is the longest downhill race in the world, with 1400 riders from 20 different countries in numerous categories, from kids to women, friends & family, & of course the men's race.

The Alpe d’Huez Megavalanche is the ultimate in downhill biking contests and features 4 days of training and racing, a total of over 4000 downhill meters of races, and an entire week of entertainment.

Oh, and Jamie Nicoll managed to finish in 7th place! smiley

The 1st 2 min. of the Megavalanche
downhill glacier bicycle race in the French Alps
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

July 17, 2015 - Now THAT'S some serious rainfall!

With the ongoing passage of Typhoon 11 (Nangka) thru the heart of Japan, as of 8:55 am Fri. 7/17,  the village of Umaji-mura Yanase (馬路村魚梁瀬) in Kochi Prefecture recorded a remarkable 626 mm (24.6 in) of rain in the past 24 hours....that's an average of over 1 inch per hour. OMG.

Two other locations in Mie & Nara Prefectures recorded over 560 mm (~22 in) and 7 other sites in Wakayama, Tokushima, & Nara Prefectures have recorded over 412 mm (~16 in) in the past 24 hours.

24-hour rainfall amounts for Typhoon 11 (Nangka) as of 9:10 am, July 17, 2015
24-hour rainfall amounts for Typhoon 11 (Nangka),
as of 8:50 am, July 17, 2015
(image credit: NHK weather news)

July 14, 2015 - Italian daredevil Uli Emanuele flies through 2.6-meter rock hole in Switzerland

In what GoPro described as "possibly the most technical and difficult base jump ever," in a feat that he trained for for 3 years, 29-year-old professional wing suit pilot Uli Emanuele flew through the rock hole shown in the video below in Sept. 2014. The hole is located in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland in the Swiss Alps, one of the most popular areas in the world for basejumping.

Born in Bolzano, Italy, Uli began skydiving at the age of 16 and has since performed around 700 skydive jumps. Since age 21 he has performed 1700 base jumps, with 900 of those being wingsuit jumps from mountains. The rest of the base jumps were from antennas, buildings, mountains, and any other places he could find over 40m in height.

In 2010 Uli won the Extreme Base Jump World Championship in Spain.

Italian daredevil Uli Emanuele flies through 2.6-meter rock hole in Switzerland
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

July 12, 2015 - Is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics main stadium too costly?

A BIG, growing controversy has developed over the soaring estimated construction cost of the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The original estimated cost for the futuristic, flying saucer-shaped stadium, designed by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, was ¥162 billion, or about $1.3 billion, but now the cost has risen to ¥252 billion, or about $2 billion.

Already there are calls for investigations, suggestions for scaled-back design options, and a search for funding alternatives that would lessen the burden on the taxpaying public.

A $2 billion price tag would make Tokyo's 2020 Olympic stadium the most expensive ever. The one built for the 2012 London Games reportedly cost less than half that figure, and the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics cost even less.

It almost makes me sick to my stomach when I think about all this money being spent on a stupid sports stadium when nearly 90,000 evacuees, who were displaced by the big March 11, 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear meltdown in northeastern Japan, are still living in prefabricated, temporary housing more than 4 years after the triple disaster.

Tokyo 2020 olympic stadium
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium
(image credit:

July 7, 2015 - Western Pacific typhoon trifecta

It's never a dull moment in Japan. We are currently closely monitoring the movements of not 1, not 2, but THREE typhoons at the same time!

Typhoons Chan-Hom (#9, 台風9号), Linfa (#10, 台風10号), and Nangka (#11, 台風11号) have already hit or are threatening Guam, the Philippines, Okinawa, Taiwan, China, & other Pacific nations in their path.

Mainland Japan seems safe from Typhoons 9 & 10, but Typhoon 11, the strongest of the 3, may threaten Japan's main island of Honshu, including Tokyo, early next week. As of 6 pm, July 7, Japan time, Typhoon 11 was already packing winds up to 70 m/s (~156 mph). 
Typhoons 9, 10, & 11
Typhoons 9, 10, & 11, as of 10 pm, July 7, 2015, Japan time
(image credit: TBS Weather)

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