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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog

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.

Jan. 6, 2021 - 16 Top Hiking & Adventure Blogs from Japan

​I was thrilled recently to be notified that my GaryJWolff.com website has been named one of the 16 top hiking and adventure blogs from Japan by the highly-renowned Ridgeline Images hiking website.

If you have a very vivid imagination, perhaps you can visualize me right now patting myself on the back, ha ha. smiley
​​
No, in all seriousness, in the past 12 years I have spent literally hundreds of hours posting information on the highest mountains in Japan, which I hope will be useful for present and future climbers.

It is extremely rare when I get these kinds of kudos or feedback regarding my website, so this recognition is extremely appreciated. Thank you very much, Mr. David Lowe!

If you're looking for a good hiking trail around Tokyo, since 2013 David has published over 100 hike reports from around the Greater Tokyo Area. And each hike has a detailed description, including photos, how to get to the trailhead by public transport, hiking duration, distance, elevation gain, difficulty, as well as downloadable GPX track and PDF map files.





Jan. 1, 2022 - Hatsuhinode (初日の出), First Japan Sunrise of 2022

Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the Japanese Shinto tradition of viewing the 1st sunrise of the New Year to greet Toshigami-sama (年神), the god of the New Year, with hopes of receiving good luck, well-being, and health. Before sunrise on January 1, many people will drive to the coast, climb a mountain, or go to the top of a tall building or structure, like the Tokyo Sky Tree or Tokyo Tower, to view it. Here's the one which occurred in Tokyo this morning at 6:51 am with a crisp -1°C (30°F) temp. Happy New Year!! May we all be blessed this year with "good luck, well-being, and health." smiley



​​Hatsuhinode (初日の出), First Japan Sunrise of 2022
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)
(BGM: "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens)




Dec. 30, 2021 - 2021 - the Year in Pictures

I am indeed very thankful for another wonderful year! As I have done in years past, I sometimes like to put together a collection of photos reflecting back on some of my favorite memories of the past year. I hope you enjoy the 40 photos in my video below. Best wishes for a gr-r-reat Twenty Twenty-Two, the Year of (Tony) the Tiger... laughing icon



​​2021 - the Year in Pictures
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Dec. 25, 2021 - NORAD Tracks Santa as he visits Mt. Fuji, Japan & Houston, Texas

In case any of my Tokyo friends missed him, Santa & his 9 reindeer passed over Mt. Fuji (富士山) last night (Xmas Eve) a little after 11 pm. Here's NORAD's official video of Santa's 2021 visit to Japan, captured in real-time by a NORAD (*) Santa Cam. Don't miss Santa flying DIRECTLY over the cone of Mt. Fuji! WOW!!


NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2021 (NORAD video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


Santa Claus & his 9 reindeer also flew over my hometown, Houston, Texas, last night during his 24-hour journey around the globe. This happened around 12:15 am Houston time. Here's the video captured by an official NORAD Santa Cam as he passed over Texas' largest city a couple years ago:



NORAD Tracks Santa over Houston, Texas, Dec. 24, 2019
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Total Xmas gifts delivered by Santa Claus this year: 7,623,693,263  WOW!

(*) North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)




Dec. 22, 2021 - Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021

Whoever said there isn't any authentic, live country music in Japan got it all WRONG. smiley And it's even more exciting when you can listen & dance to it in Little Texas (リトルテキサス), the "World's Smallest Texas Honky-Tonk," a place that'll make you swear you're inside a real live Houston honky-tonk instead of right in the heart of Tokyo. Please say hello to Ms. Sasano Kawamura (河村ささ野), one of Tokyo's hottest country singers! Yee hah!! laughing icon



​​Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Dec. 19, 2021 - Dickey's BBQ Pit, Tokyo

Wow, there really IS a God. smiley And this Texican just got a WHOLE lot more homesick. We can now enjoy yet another spot to chow down on authentic Texas BBQ right in the heart of Tokyo, and just in time for Xmas.

A big TEXAS-size High 5 for the heads-up to my good Facebook musician buddy, Santa Sparky Guitarslinger. smiley

Less than 24 hours after hearing about this new Texas BBQ restaurant from Sparky, I was dining in their Yoyogi branch. Here are my pics: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzvoci

Not great, but not bad. The brisket was juicy, tender, and moderately flavorful, the coleslaw and BBQ sauce were to die for, the dinner roll soft & tasty, the creamy spinach needs work, and they were a bit stingy on the onions and pickles.

I want to try the Meguro shop next.


Dickeys BBQ Tokyo
Dickeys BBQ Tokyo
(Photo credit: Dickey's BBQ Japan Facebook page)




Dec. 10, 2021 - Tokyo Fall Colors in December 2021

It’s that gorgeous time of year again in Tokyo when nature's paintbrush adds a lot of colorful cheer to our lives. These pics were taken this past week in a number of spots famous for fall colors, including Rikugien (六義園), the historic, centuries-old Japanese garden which was designed in 1702 (before America was born).

This kind of beautiful scenery brings a lot of childhood joy to folks like myself, even after 30 years here, as there is nothing even close to this in my home state of Texas. Japan is indeed one beautiful country...

 
Tokyo fall colors in December 2021
Tokyo fall colors in December 2021
 (click here to view full album)




Dec. 8, 2021 - "O Holy Night" by opera singers Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield

Father & son duet. Raised in the East Texas city of Lufkin and a graduate of the famed Stephen F. Austin State University music school, international opera singer Paul Hartfield is in style and spirit a true Italian tenor.

Mr. Hartfield earned a number of America's most prestigious singing awards early in his career, and was very soon singing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Seattle Opera, Kansas City Opera, Utah Opera, Tampa Bay Opera, and San Diego Opera.

Mr. Hartfield's international engagements have included the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Opera de Monte Carlo, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Bel Canto Festival (France), Hong Kong Opera, and Cape Town Opera.



​​O Holy Night - Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

[I had the pleasure of meeting Paul back in his college days in Nacogdoches thru Ted Stewart, a mutual friend, who also studied opera at SFASU. I absolutely LOVE this beautiful song, "It is Well with My Soul," that Paul sang at Ted's funeral 12 years ago. By all means, don't miss the amazing crescendo in this song starting at the 4:20 mark where you can hear Paul's gifted operatic voice!]




Dec. 2, 2021 - My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)

The Disney Parks slogans "The Happiest Place on Earth" where "Dreams Come True" work even for sexagenarians! smiley

13 rides (one of them twice) in only 9.5 hours made for a very busy day indeed!

And it wasn't until walking out of Space Mountain after riding it a 2nd time just before the 8 pm park closing that I heard the English announcement: "This ride is not recommended for those with heart conditions or of advanced age!" laughing icon


Tokyo Disneyland - 21.11.25
Tokyo Disneyland - Nov. 25, 2021
View all pics here: My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland


Dec. 5, 2021 update:
And I was pleasantly surprised how well my video turned out, especially since I didn't have the best seat in the house to view the electrical light parade! smiley


​​My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Here are the 2 main video highlights:
5:06 It's a Small World (AMAZING!)
14:07 Electrical Light Parade DreamLights (EVEN MORE AMAZING!)




Nov. 27, 2021 - My Nov. 24, 2021 visit to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau (東京出入国在留管理局)

In Japan, the Foreign Resident (gaijin) ID card is only good for 7 years, so when I visited immigration Wednesday to renew mine, my friend in Texas asked me to take some pictures.

But I guess maybe I overdid it. The weather that day was picture perfect, so I couldn't resist going somewhat overboard and becoming a bit too snap happy. laughing icon (If you ever visit Tokyo, the views from the Tokyo Monorail are AMAZING!)

Here are my pics: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmXb3hRP


Tokyo immigration office collage
Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau
(The full Flickr album is here.)




Nov. 18, 2021 - How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball

Ever thought about making your own paper soccer ball? Follow these quick, easy steps to create your own colorful design. A free, fun activity for kids! [The Tokyo Wolffman is STILL a child!] laughing icon

How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball
How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball


More details here: How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball




Nov. 7, 2021 - "I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe

Blind Joe Bommersbach, a country music artist who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, is getting international attention and generating support from fans around the world for a new song that takes direct aim at COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

The first time Blind Joe posted the amazing video below, YouTube deleted it after it received 48,000 views in only 24 hours.

Yes, he really is blind! smiley



"I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe
[Click on the "CC" button for English subtitles. Click on the settings (gear) icon if you need to increase the subtitle font size.]
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Lyrics:
I will not comply
Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply.

Since back last March I’ve had an achy breaky heart like old Billy Ray Cyrus
Been catching a case of the blues from the news around this damn coronavirus

Now they’re telling us we gotta keep our chin diapers up
even if we got the shot in the arm
But nobody’s talkin' 'bout exercise or eating food that’s fresh grown from the farm
That’s why I will not comply

Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply

Now listen y'all
The only way to stop the violence is for us to break the silence right now
So if you tend to agree and you’re pissed off like me
Stand your ass up and scream it out loud

Sing I will not comply
Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply

Yeah, I’m here to tell ya people I will not comply!!! No. That's the gospel truth!




Nov. 1, 2021 - Mr. Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平)

Ever since my hometown Houston Astros reached the World Series, I’ve had Major League Baseball on my brain nearly every day. So I would be remiss not to offer my kudos and most heartfelt congrats to Los Angeles Angels superstar Mr. Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平), who has just been named Player of the Year in a vote by his fellow pro baseball players. Ohtani-san is the first Japanese to be awarded the prize.

This bonafide Japanese hero is known in this country as a "nitoryu" (two-sword samurai, 二刀流), for his exceptional skills as both a pitcher and hitter. In fact, this year he became the 1st MLB player ever to be named both the starting pitcher and lead-off batter in an all-star game. Wow.

Here are just a few of his stellar accomplishments this season:
  • 9 wins as a pitcher
  • 156 strikeouts
  • 46 homers
  • 100 runs batted in (RBIs), and
  • 26 stolen bases
He also became only the 6th MLB player ever to achieve 45 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season.

Ohtani-san has also received a number of other post-season awards and is a favorite to win the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, which will be announced on Nov. 18.

This amazing 27-year-old certainly brings a lot of pride to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平), Los Angeles Angels
(photo credit: elfildeo.com)

Nov. 18 update: Today Shohei Ohtani was named this year's Most Valuable Player in the MLB American League. Congrats, Ohtani-san!!




Oct. 25, 2021 - Houston Astros (ヒューストン・アストロズ) headed to the World Series…

​...for the 3rd time in the last 5 years! After clinching the American League pennant against the Boston Red Sox last Friday, the Astros will be hosting the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, October 26 at Minute Maid Park in Houston to begin the 2021 World Series.

The Astros have home field advantage, where 4 of the 7 (if necessary) games will be played in Houston, and will be playing with 3 days of rest compared to only 2 days for the Braves, which includes the time required for them to fly to Houston.

In 2017 after the Astros reached the World Series en route to their world championship, I purchased ​a new Astros ball ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap so he could add it to the store's ​"​snap​ photo" blog pa​​ge​​ and I said ​"Of course."

For the past week or so, I’ve been sporting my Houston Astros ball cap EVERYWHERE including in my online university classes, smiley and here I am wearing my cap in 2017​. Go Astros!​


new Astros cap
Caption on Selection blog page: ヒューストンからお越しのお客様です!アストロズのキャップ購入頂きました♪キャップを被ってアストロズを応援して下さい\(^o^)/
Translation: This customer comes from Houston! He bought an Astros cap. Please support the Astros by wearing the cap.




Oct. 12, 2021 - Young Japanese boy softball pitcher (日本の少年ソフトボールのピッチャー)

​I almost fell off my bicycle the other day when I noticed this young boy, I’m guessing no more than 7 or 8 years old, pitching like a real pro against grown adults in a parents vs. children softball game. Having grown up watching my Hall of Famer softball pitcher dad, Walter F. Wolff, I must say I was totally impressed. And this precious, tiny little boy was SO cute!​​



Young Japanese boy softball pitcher (日本の少年ソフトボールのピッチャー)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Oct. 8, 2021 - U.S. Freedom Flyers



U.S. Freedom Flyers - We Do Not Consent
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Background song: "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle




Oct. 5, 2021 - Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング), Oct. 3, 2021

​One of the beauties of living in the world's most populous metropolis is how easy it is to get back to nature. Just one example was a couple days ago when I joined the Jambo International hiking group for a 4-hour mountain hike in Chichibu, Saitama.

Within just a 2-hour train ride from th​​e city, we were enjoying a beautiful, sunny fall day and enveloped by thick green forests, a gurgling mountain stream, colorful cosmos flowers, chirping birds, a stunning scenic overlook of Hanno City, and new friendships with fellow hikers from around the world.

Countless easy and accessible hiking courses near Tokyo is just one of many reasons I have chosen to live in this beautiful country for over 3 decades now.

Here is the hiking course, ​with more details on the Jambo International event page:

Higashi Agano Station (東吾野駅) → Mt. Monomi (物見山) → Mt. Hiwada (日和田山) → Kinchakuda (巾着田) →  Koma Station  (高麗駅) (about 4 hours, およそ約4時間)

Chichibu hiking
Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング)
You can view my Flickr photos here: Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング)




Sept. 22, 2021 - Korakuen (幸楽苑) ramen shop robot

Watch this cute little robot deliver orders to tables in this Tokyo ramen chain restaurant. The future is HERE! Restaurant servers, your job is in jeopardy... smiley



Korakuen (幸楽苑) ramen shop robot
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Sept. 18, 2021 - Fall 2021 Edutainment Lesson Plans

Let's have fun learning English! Edutainment lesson plans on this page are optional, but if you take the time to do them, they will not only improve your overall English communication skills, but will also broaden your cultural horizons to help you become a more successful international citizen in today's global society! smiley

New lessons will be added each week. Read more to begin your free, self-study course here: Fall 2021 Edutainment Lesson Plans




Sept. 10, 2021 - HAA3, with the Shepherd Pickers

Cheers to one of my all-time favorite musicians, a remarkable fella I had the pleasure of rooming with in our college days and hearing his wonderful tunes and lovely voice almost every day. My favorites in those days were songs by John Denver and Neil Young. And now, decades later, he still has his stuff! smiley


HAA3, with the Shepherd Pickers
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

0:00 Go Rest High On That Mountain
5:43 Little Mountain Church House
7:42 In Constant Sorrow
12:04 Jesus is Just Alright
15:53 Spirit in the Sky
18:53 Everybody Hurts

And a big TEXAS-size hug to his videographer for her excellent camera work. smiley Thanks for sharing, my dear friends...




Aug. 26, 2021 - Climbing Mt. Fuji's Yoshida Trail - Aug. 24-25, 2021

Thirty years ago this month, along with a bunch of other crazy friends, I climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji's Yoshida Trail, the busiest and most popular of its 4 trails. Because one of the most visited pages on my entire website is the Climbing Mt. Fuji (富士山) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, I felt it was about time to go back and refresh my data. smiley

To put it into perspective, from the 5th Station trailhead to the top requires an elevation gain of over 1400 m (4600 ft), equivalent to 3.7 Empire State Buildings or 4.7 Abeno Harukas Buildings (あべのハルカス), Japan‘s tallest in Osaka. Needless to say, this climb seriously kicked my rear, but I was thrilled to learn that this sexagenarian's body could still pull it off. smiley

I hope you have time to check out the stunning beauty of Japan’s tallest peak, which is also one of its 3 holiest peaks: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWveVV5
(on the Flickr page, click small right arrow in upper right for automatic slideshow viewing)

Gary with Mt. Fuji friends
Climbing Mt. Fuji's Yoshida Trail - Aug. 24-25, 2021
(click link to view entire album)



Climbing Mt. Fuji's Yoshida Trail - Aug. 24-25, 2021
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Aug. 9, 2021 - Shikinejima (式根島), one of the 11 exotic tropical islands of Tokyo

Even after 3 decades in Dai Nippon, it still blows my mind that one can enjoy such a beautiful tropical paradise less than a 3-hr boat ride from the world's most populous metropolis. Shikinejima (式根島), only 3.7 sq km (1.4 sq mi) in size, is the smallest of 11 islands that extend some 1000 km south of central Tokyo.

Blessed with not only gorgeous white sand beaches, snorkeling, rare birds, hiking trails, and the Milky Way, this tiny island is also famous for its seaside open-air hot springs whose temperature varies with the tide, determined by the amount of seawater that mixes in with the hot water in the natural rock baths which are free and open 24/7. Heaven on earth.


Shikinejima (式根島)
Shikinejima (式根島), one of the 11 exotic tropical islands of Tokyo
The full photo album is viewable here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWsbhAn
(on that page, click small right arrow in upper right for automatic slideshow viewing)



Shikinejima (式根島), one of the 11 exotic tropical islands of Tokyo
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




July 31, 2021 - My visit to the Mt. Fuji 5th & 6th Stations

Yesterday I climbed Japan’s highest and holiest peak for the 4th time. Well, this time only to the 5th Station. And by bus. smiley Since it'd been 6 years since my last visit to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (also by bus), I felt it was about time to go back and refresh my data. smiley

But also for mental therapy purposes, I was fortunate enough to escape Tokyo‘s hot and humid concrete jungle to spend a day hiking around, and really, really nice and refreshing to breathe cool, crisp fresh air for a change.

From the 5th Station, I hiked up to the 6th Station Safety Guidance Center, down past the Seikanso mountain hut to the Sato-goya mountain hut at 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, a level course that partially circumnavigates the Mt. Fuji volcano. It was SO green and lush, with the Hakusan rhododendrons in full bloom!

It was a magnificent, fun-filled 7 hours in God's country. I hope you enjoy my pics... especially the Mt. Fuji toilet paper and the Eruption Veggie Curry dish I had for lunch, with the white rice piled up in the shape of Fujisan, ha ha… laughing icon

Mt. Fuji 5th & 6th Stations
Mt. Fuji 5th & 6th Stations
(view full album here)




July 29, 2021 - In loving memory of Larry "LJ" Jones

Best wishes in the next stage of your eternal journey up there on the big playground in the sky. Thanks for your loyal friendship and for touching our lives in a very profound way the past half-century. Will always luv ya like a bro....



In loving memory of Larry "LJ" Jones
July 14, 1953 - June 10, 2021
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Larry's photo album
Larry's obituary




July 17, 2021 - Mt. Fuji's climbing season opens for the 1st time in 2 years!

In celebration of Mt. Fuji's climbing season opening for the 1st time in 2 years, I was reminded of this breathtaking view I was lucky to capture a remarkable decade ago of Japan’s tallest peak, as seen from near Mt. Kita-dake, Japan's 2nd tallest peak, some 60 km (37 mi) away. And unbeknownst to me at the time, I found out later that my longtime good buddy George was standin​​g at the summit of Fujisan at the exact same moment, worshiping the same sunrise as me. Wow, what an incredible coincidence. Happy trails and best wishes for Covid safety to this year’s Mt. Fuji climbers...

Mt. Fuji at sunrise
Mt. Fuji at sunrise, 5:31 am, Aug. 14, 2011,
taken from near Mt. Kita-dake




July 3, 2021 - TODAY’S ENGLISH LESSON (今日の英語レッスン)

- I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.......then it hit me.
- To write with a broken pencil is…….pointless.
- When fish are in schools, they sometimes…….take debate.
- A thief who stole a calendar…….got twelve months.
- When the smog lifts in Los Angeles…….U.C.L.A.
- The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes…….was on shaky ground.
- The batteries were given out…….free of charge.
- A dentist and a manicurist married…….and then fought tooth and nail.
- A will is a…….dead giveaway.
- If you don't pay your exorcist…….you can get repossessed.
- With her marriage, she got a new name…….and a dress.
- Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you…….A-flat miner.
- You are stuck with your debt if…….you can't budge it.
- Local Area Network in Australia: …….The LAN down under.
- A boiled egg is…….hard to beat.
- When you've seen one shopping center…….you've seen a mall.
- Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was…….resisting a rest.
- Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? …….He's all right now.
- If you take a laptop computer for a run, you could…….jog your memory.
- A bicycle can't stand alone:…….it is two tired.
- When a clock is hungry…….it goes back four seconds.
- The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine…….was fully recovered.
- He had a photographic memory…….which was never developed.
- Those who get too big for their britches will be…….exposed in the end.
- When she saw her first strands of gray hair…….she thought she'd dye.
- Acupuncture: …….a jab well done.
- You can tune a piano.......but you can't tuna fish.
- Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

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Website Updates

Jan 06, 2022

16 Top Hiking & Adventure Blogs from Japan

​I was thrilled recently to be notified that my GaryJWolff.com website has been named one of the 16 top hiking and adventure blogs from Japan by the highly-renowned Ridgeline Images hiking website.

If you have a very vivid imagination, perhaps you can visualize me right now patting myself on the back, ha ha. :-)​​No, in all seriousness, in the past 12 years I have spent literally hundreds of hours posting information on the highest mountains in Japan, which I hope will be useful for present and future climbers.

It is extremely rare when I get these kinds of kudos or feedback regarding my website, so this recognition is extremely appreciated. Thank you very much, Mr. David Lowe!

If you're looking for a good hiking trail around Tokyo, since 2013 David has published over 100 hike reports from around the Greater Tokyo Area. And each hike has a detailed description, including photos, how to get to the trailhead by public transport, hiking duration, distance, elevation gain, difficulty, as well as downloadable GPX track and PDF map files.

(click link to read "16 top blogs..." article)

Continue reading "16 Top Hiking & Adventure Blogs from Japan"

Jan 06, 2022

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"

Jan 01, 2022

Hatsuhinode (初日の出), First Japan Sunrise of 2022

Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the Japanese Shinto tradition of viewing the 1st sunrise of the New Year to greet Toshigami-sama (年神), the god of the New Year, with hopes of receiving good luck, well-being, and health. Before sunrise on January 1, many people will drive to the coast, climb a mountain, or go to the top of a tall building or structure, like the Tokyo Sky Tree or Tokyo Tower, to view it. Here's the one which occurred in Tokyo this morning at 6:51 am with a crisp -1°C (30°F) temp. Happy New Year!! May we all be blessed this year with "good luck, well-being, and health." :-)

(Click link to view 1:20 min. video)

Continue reading "Hatsuhinode (初日の出), First Japan Sunrise of 2022"

Dec 30, 2021

2021 - the Year in Pictures

I am indeed very thankful for another wonderful year! As I have done in years past, I sometimes like to put together a collection of photos reflecting back on some of my favorite memories of the past year. I hope you enjoy the 40 photos in my video. Best wishes for a gr-r-reat Twenty Twenty-Two, the Year of (Tony) the Tiger... :-)

(click link to view 1:20 min. video)

Continue reading "2021 - the Year in Pictures"

Dec 27, 2021

NORAD Tracks Santa as he visits Mt. Fuji, Japan & Houston, Texas

In case any of my Tokyo friends missed him, Santa & his 9 reindeer passed over Mt. Fuji (富士山) last night (Xmas Eve) a little after 11 pm. Here's NORAD's official video of Santa's 2021 visit to Japan, captured in real-time by a NORAD (*) Santa Cam. Don't miss Santa flying DIRECTLY over the cone of Mt. Fuji! WOW!!

Santa Claus & his 9 reindeer also flew over my hometown, Houston, Texas, last night during his 24-hour journey around the globe. This happened around 12:15 am Houston time. Here's the video captured by an official NORAD Santa Cam as he passed over Texas' largest city a couple years ago:

Total Xmas gifts delivered by Santa Claus this year: 7,623,693,263 WOW!

(click link to view both videos)

Continue reading "NORAD Tracks Santa as he visits Mt. Fuji, Japan & Houston, Texas"

Dec 22, 2021

Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021

Whoever said there isn't any authentic, live country music in Japan got it all WRONG. :-) And it's even more exciting when you can listen & dance to it in Little Texas (リトルテキサス), the "World's Smallest Texas Honky-Tonk," a place that'll make you swear you're inside a real live Houston honky-tonk instead of right in the heart of Tokyo. Please say hello to Ms. Sasano Kawamura (河村ささ野), one of Tokyo's hottest country singers! Yee hah!! :-)

(click link to view video)

Continue reading "Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021"

Dec 19, 2021

Dickey's BBQ Pit, Tokyo

Wow, there really IS a God. :-) And this Texican just got a WHOLE lot more homesick. We can now enjoy yet another spot to chow down on authentic Texas BBQ right in the heart of Tokyo, and just in time for Xmas.

A big TEXAS-size High 5 for the heads-up to my good Facebook musician buddy, Santa Sparky Guitarslinger. :-)

Less than 24 hours after hearing about this new Texas BBQ restaurant from Sparky, I was dining in their Yoyogi branch.

Not great, but not bad. The brisket was juicy, tender, and moderately flavorful, the coleslaw and BBQ sauce were to die for, the dinner roll soft & tasty, the creamy spinach needs work, and they were a bit stingy on the onions and pickles.

I want to try the Meguro shop next.

(click link to view pics)

Continue reading "Dickey's BBQ Pit, Tokyo"

Dec 12, 2021

How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball

Ever thought about making your own paper soccer ball? Follow these quick, easy steps to create your own colorful design. A free, fun activity for kids!

Continue reading "How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball"

Dec 10, 2021

Tokyo Fall Colors in December 2021

It’s that gorgeous time of year again in Tokyo when nature's paintbrush adds a lot of colorful cheer to our lives. These pics were taken this past week in a number of spots famous for fall colors, including Rikugien (六義園), the historic, centuries-old Japanese garden which was designed in 1702 (before America was born).

This kind of beautiful scenery brings a lot of childhood joy to folks like myself, even after 30 years here, as there is nothing even close to this in my home state of Texas. Japan is indeed one beautiful country...

(click link to view pics)

Continue reading "Tokyo Fall Colors in December 2021"

Dec 08, 2021

"O Holy Night" by opera singers Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield

Father & son duet. Raised in the East Texas city of Lufkin and a graduate of the famed Stephen F. Austin State University music school, international opera singer Paul Hartfield is in style and spirit a true Italian tenor.

Mr. Hartfield earned a number of America's most prestigious singing awards early in his career, and was very soon singing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Seattle Opera, Kansas City Opera, Utah Opera, Tampa Bay Opera, and San Diego Opera.

Mr. Hartfield's international engagements have included the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Opera de Monte Carlo, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Bel Canto Festival (France), Hong Kong Opera, and Cape Town Opera.

(click link to view video of these 2 amazing opera singers!)

Continue reading ""O Holy Night" by opera singers Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield"

Dec 05, 2021

My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)

The Disney Parks slogans "The Happiest Place on Earth" where "Dreams Come True" work even for sexagenarians! :-)

13 rides (one of them twice) in only 9.5 hours made for a very busy day indeed!

And it wasn't until walking out of Space Mountain after riding it a 2nd time just before the 8 pm park closing that I heard the English announcement: "This ride is not recommended for those with heart conditions or of advanced age!" :-)

(click link to view pics & newly added video!)

Continue reading "My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)"

Nov 26, 2021

My Nov. 24, 2021 visit to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau (東京出入国在留管理局)

In Japan, the Foreign Resident (gaijin) ID card is only good for 7 years, so when I visited immigration Wednesday to renew mine, my friend in Texas asked me to take some pictures.

But I guess maybe I overdid it. The weather that day was picture perfect, so I couldn't resist going somewhat overboard and becoming a bit too snap happy. :-) (If you ever visit Tokyo, the views from the Tokyo Monorail are AMAZING!)

(click link to view pics)

Continue reading "My Nov. 24, 2021 visit to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau (東京出入国在留管理局)"

Nov 26, 2021

"I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe

Blind Joe Bommersbach, a country music artist who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, is getting international attention and generating support from fans around the world for a new song that takes direct aim at COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

The first time Blind Joe posted the amazing video below, YouTube deleted it after it received 48,000 views in only 24 hours.

Yes, he really is blind! :-)

(click link to view video and read song lyrics)

Continue reading ""I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe"

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2014

Posts include sexy Japanese dancers, a video of my first sunrise of 2014, musician Rambling Steve Gardner, and pics and video of my Cook Islands vacation.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2014"

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, July-September, 2014

Posts include 2 typhoons striking Japan, my Sept. Texas vacation pics & video, my new “About Me” page, and the eruption of the Mt. Ontake volcano.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, July-September, 2014"

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2014

Posts include Diamond Fuji viewing spots & dates, NORAD Tracks Santa, Midtown 2014 Xmas Illumination, fall colors in Nishizawa Valley, and a total lunar eclipse.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2014"

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2014

Posts include a freak June hailstorm in Tokyo, & videos of my musician friends, a cherry blossom blizzard, and my Disney children's show performances.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2014"

Nov 22, 2021

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

Posts include pics of my Sept. 2-16 Texas vacation, my 14-hr. day trip to the Mt. Fuji 5th & 6th Stations, and a Japanese university English speech contest.

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

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2015

Posts include winter hiking tips by Wes Lang, Danish archer Lars Andersen, Super Bowl XLIX from the New Sanno Hotel, and an awesome Diamond Fuji seen from Tokyo.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2015"

Nov 22, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2015

Posts include Little Texas Bar & Grill in Tokyo, world's oldest businesses, 60th anniversary of NORAD Tracks Santa, & the Mr. Wolfman song by Kazutoshi.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2015"





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What's New?

  1. 16 Top Hiking & Adventure Blogs from Japan

    Jan 06, 22 07:50 AM

    ​I was thrilled recently to be notified that my GaryJWolff.com website has been named one of the 16 top hiking and adventure blogs from Japan by the highly-renowned Ridgeline Images hiking website. If…

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  2. Gary J. Wolff's Blog

    Jan 06, 22 07:41 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.

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  3. Hatsuhinode (初日の出), First Japan Sunrise of 2022

    Jan 01, 22 08:34 PM

    Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the Japanese Shinto tradition of viewing the 1st sunrise of the New Year to greet Toshigami-sama (年神), the god of the New Year, with hopes of receiving good luck, well-being, and…

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