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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.

Sept. 23, 2022 - My 2022 Texas vacation pics!

For the first time in 3 years, I was able to visit my home state of Texas. It was an action-packed experience and very culturally rewarding. laughing icon

I hope you enjoy my pics! If you have time, you can view the entire Flickr album here: My 2022 Texas vacation pics!

My 2022 Texas vacation pics!




Sept. 16, 2022 - Sunrise over the Edo River in Tokyo, Japan

Sunrise over the Edo River in Tokyo, Japan
Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, 5:48 am




Sept. 14, 2022 - ​​Engineering Student Leadership Service Award

In 1970 the Student Engineering Council of the University of Texas at Austin established the Student Leadership Award in Engineering. Each year 6 awards are presented and each recipient receives a framed certificate and a $200 check, which is presented at a luncheon ceremony during Engineering Week.

Their names are recorded on a permanent plaque displayed in the Engineering Student Services office in the Engineering Education and Research Center on the UT Austin campus.

Engineering Student Leadership Service Award

More details here: Engineering Student Leadership Service Award,
University of Texas at Austin





Aug. 11, 2022 - Peak season for Obanazawa Suika watermelons in Yamagata

In this photo, watermelons in the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives facility in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture, are being inspected for quality before being shipped out across the country. This is the busiest time of the year when up to 40,000 Obanazawa Suika watermelons are being shipped every day. WOW!! This city is one of the largest watermelon growing regions in Japan.

Obanazawa watermelons
Obanazawa Suika watermelons
(Photo credit: japannews.yomiuri.co.jp)




July 31, 2022 - Big Bear's new CD released July 10th!

Congrats to my musician friend Mr. Hidekazu Okuma (大熊秀和), whom we affectionately refer to as Big Bear (the English translation of his family name Okuma), on the release of his band's latest CD on July 10th.

I’ve been following and supporting Big Bear's music for the past 15 years and his "Big Bears" group is without question one of the hottest rock bands in Katsushika, Tokyo.

He is the lead singer and guitarist of his band and wrote 5 of the 7 songs on their new CD. He also sings 4 of the ​​CD's songs in English, including an excellent rendition of “Crossroads," the classic hit from the 60s by Eric Clapton and his band Cream.

Way to go, Big Bear! I hope you sell lots of CDs…



"The Freedom" CD by Big Bears, released July 10, 2022
(If player above is not visible, you can view Big Bear's entire YouTube playlist here.)

0:00 I Love Southbay
5:41 We're The Child of God
9:16 Freedom
12:57 Working Man
19:05 Crossroads
23:30 Everyday I Have The Blues
28:01 I Love Southbay (Bossa Nova)




July 17, 2022 - Ruy Ueda sets new world record for running up and down Mt. Fuji’s 4 trails in less than 10 hours

"28-year-old Japanese athlete Ruy Ueda has set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for running all of Mount Fuji’s four trails non-stop, a total distance of 57.06km with 6,772m of ascent. He completed the feat in nine hours, 55 minutes and 41 seconds, a world record when ratified....

....He finished third in the 2021 Skyrunning World Championships. That same year he became the first Asian Skyrunning World Champion after winning the Men’s Vertical Kilometer in Lleida, Spain. To prepare his body for this challenge, Ueda travelled to the Alps and trained with ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander, competing in Austria’s Hochkönigman, where he won the downhill race, and France’s Mont Blanc marathon, where he came in third."

An animation at the beginning of this video shows his route:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEka4JS9bPQ

Source: https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/ruy-ueda-mount-fuji-speed-record

Ruy Ueda - Fujisan
Ruy Ueda sets new world record for running up and down
Mt. Fuji’s 4 trails in less than 10 hours
(photo credit: Suguru Saito/Red Bull Content Pool)




July 9, 2022 - Rest in peace, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三首相)

As we come to grips with yesterday's appalling tragedy here in Japan and reflect back on former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's many accolades, including becoming the youngest post-war Prime Minister and being the longest serving Japanese Prime Minister in history, I was reminded of his ​​tireless efforts thru the years to promote and solidify the special friendship between Japan and the U.S., including his address 7 years ago to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in nearly flawless English. R.I.P, Abe-san…


​​Prime Minister Abe's Address to the U.S. Congress in May 2015
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




July 2, 2022 - ​​​Mt. Fuji's 2022 climbing season opens on July 1!

SHOW TIME! The Yoshida trail on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of Mount Fuji opened yesterday on July 1, a day known as Yamabiraki (山開き), marking the beginning of the summer Mt. Fuji mountain climbing season that will continue through Sept. 10.

Fujisan Yamabiraki - July 1, 2022
Mt. Fuji climbers enjoyed sunrise from its summit on July 1, 2022.
(photo credit: The Mainichi Newspaper)

More details on Mt. Fuji's 2022 climbing season are on my Climbing Mt. Fuji (富士山) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.




June 28, 2022 - WHY ARE YOU STILL IN JAPAN?

​​Having recently celebrated 31 years in Japan, I can definitely relate to a number of these responses by other foreigners in Japan to that very important question.

- 55% of people stated that they loved their life in Japan.

- 35% of people said that safety was a big factor in why they are still living in Japan.

- 35% of people said that they stayed in Japan due to COVID-19 restricting their options to move back home or abroad.

- 20% of people interviewed said that they had more job opportunities in Japan than in their home country or another country.

- 11% of people felt that Japan was their home now.

(Source: Metropolis Japan magazine, Summer 2022 issue)

Why are you still in Japan?
Why are you still in Japan?
Click here to read individual responses from foreigners in Japan.
(image credit: Metropolis Japan magazine)




June 17, 2022 - Success is built by what you do, not by what limits you.

Did you know that:

— Albert Einstein was 4 years old before he could speak.

— Issac Newton did poorly in grade school.

— Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him, “as a composer he is
hopeless.”

— When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teacher told him he was too stupid
to learn anything.

— F.W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21, but his employer would not let him wait on customers because he “didn’t have enough sense.”

— Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

— A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas.”

— Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.

— Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school in his sophomore year. He was persuaded to come back and placed in a learning disabled class. He lasted a month and dropped out of school forever.

I don't think we'd consider any of these people a failure. So what allowed them to be successful even amidst struggles?

The answer to that question may be less in what they did do and more in what they didn't do.

(courtesy of Dan Miller, Career Coach & Author of 48 Days to the Work You Love)

Success is built by what you do
Success is built by what you do, not by what limits you.
(photo credit: 48days.com)




June 2, 2022 - Top Gun: Maverick

Without question one of the best movies I’ve seen in years, especially since the onset of the covid plandemic began a couple years ago, was last weekend when I watched Top Gun: Maverick, which opened in Japan last Friday 5/27.

I don’t know what Tom Cruise's secret is, but he’s obviously found the Fountain of Youth as he doesn’t seem to have really aged that much since the original Top Gun movie back in 1986… that’s right… a remarkable THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO!!

If you’re a Tom Cruise fan, an airplane fan (especially F-14 fighter jets), a U.S. Navy fan, or a fan of action/suspense flicks, you will love this movie. I was on the edge of my seat most of the movie, and I just can’t stop thinking about it.

If you'd like a real adrenaline rush, you owe it to yourself to go see it! 



​​Top Gun: Maverick trailer
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)
[click on CC button for English subtitles (英語字幕)]




May 22, 2022 - Keisei Rose Garden (京成バラ園)

The 30,000 m2 (7.4 acre), award-winning Keisei Rose Garden in Yachiyo, Chiba, Japan accommodates 10,000 roses of 1,600 varieties. The full blossom seasons are mid-May through early June and mid-October through early November. The most magnificent display of roses I've ever seen in my entire lifetime.

Keisei Rose Garden (京成バラ園)
Keisei Rose Garden (京成バラ園)
(click link above to view full Flickr album)




May 9, 2022 - Burger King Japan's new Salsa & Avocado Smoky Whopper

On the occasion of the May 5th Children’s Day national holiday, I’d like to tip my hat to Burger King founders Jim McLamore and Dave Edgerton, who I feel deserve at least partial credit for the amazing Salsa & Avocado Smoky Whopper I had for lunch, helping make my holiday a smashing success! smiley 美味しかったです (it was delicious)!!

salsa and avocado smoky whopper
Burger King Japan's new Salsa & Avocado Smoky Whopper


Burger King founders
Burger King founders Jim McLamore and Dave Edgerton




April 30, 2022 - World's oldest person dies at age 119

Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman who was the world’s oldest person, died on Tues. 4/19 at age 119.

She was born on Jan. 2, 1903, the same year of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, and was recognized by Guinness World Records in 2019 as the world's oldest living person.

Tanaka had been living in an elderly care facility in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture in western Japan and died at a local hospital.

Tanaka loved playing the board game Othello and her favorite food items were chocolate and soda drinks. She had reportedly hoped to stay healthy until she was 120, but passed away just a few months short of her goal.

Japan has a dwindling and rapidly aging population. As of Sept. 2021, the country had 86,510 centenarians, and 9 out of every 10 were women.

With Tanaka's death, the world’s oldest human is now Lucile Randon, a French nun known as Sister Andre, aged 118, according to The Gerontology Research Group.

Kane Tanaka
Kane Tanaka, the world's oldest person, dies at age 119
Jan. 2, 1903 - April 19, 2022
(photo credit: Canada.com)




April 3, 2022 - Spring has sprung!!

The springtime flowers in Japan bring a non-stop exhilarating display of brilliant colors and sweet fragrances to titillate the senses. The plum blossoms begin in mid-February, followed by the absolutely breathtaking cherry blossoms, and then a continuous overlapping of blooming periods for azaleas, camellias, wisteria, magnolias, peonies, roses, tulips, pansies, irises, hydrangeas, etc. that last well into mid-summer.

What you see now in the album linked below is just the start, so I'm planning to add more pics to it in the weeks ahead! Stay tuned and check back soon! smiley

2021 spring flowers collage
My 2022 Spring Flowers in Tokyo Flickr album
(click link above to view entire album)




April 1, 2022 - Spring 2022 rape blossoms in Tokyo

​ ​Of all the beautiful, stunning ​spring ​flowers at their peak in Tokyo ​right now, the breathtaking cherry blossoms ​always ​seem to get all the attention, and for good reason, but ​I think ​the brilliant, yellow rape blossom​​s (Nanohana​, ​​​菜の花​)​ are just as beautiful. May the force ​& uplifting spirit ​of spring ​be with you…

Spring 2022 rape blossoms inTokyo
Spring 2022 rape blossoms inTokyo







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Website Updates

Sep 24, 2022

My 2022 Texas vacation pics!

For the first time in 3 years, I was able to visit my home state of Texas. It was an action-packed experience and very culturally rewarding. :-)

I hope you enjoy my pics! If you have time, you can view the entire Flickr album linked from this blog post.

Continue reading "My 2022 Texas vacation pics!"

Sep 24, 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"

Sep 18, 2022

Engineering Student Leadership Service Award

In 1970 the Student Engineering Council of the University of Texas at Austin established the Student Leadership Award in Engineering. Each year 6 awards are presented and each recipient receives a framed certificate and a $200 check, which is presented at a luncheon ceremony during Engineering Week.

Their names are recorded on a permanent plaque displayed in the Engineering Student Services office in the Engineering Education and Research Center on the UT Austin campus.

(click link to view pic)

Continue reading "Engineering Student Leadership Service Award"

Aug 16, 2022

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2

Page 2 of the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, weather, and climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2"

Aug 15, 2022

I climbed Mt. Fuji Aug. 13, 2022 during a typhoon!

I climbed Mt. Fuji 2 times. One time was August 3, 2019. In that time, we started from 5th station of Subashiri trail to summit and it took about 11 hours.

Continue reading "I climbed Mt. Fuji Aug. 13, 2022 during a typhoon!"

Aug 11, 2022

Peak season for Obanazawa Suika watermelons in Yamagata

In this photo, watermelons in the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives facility in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture, are being inspected for quality before being shipped out across the country. This is the busiest time of the year when up to 40,000 Obanazawa Suika watermelons are being shipped every day. WOW!! This city is one of the largest watermelon growing regions in Japan.

(click link to view pic of watermelons)

Continue reading "Peak season for Obanazawa Suika watermelons in Yamagata"

Aug 10, 2022

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, traffic stats, weather, and climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)"

Aug 05, 2022

Can I climb Mount Fuji at 10 pm?

I am planning to do bullet climbing, but I don't want to get cold by remaining still at the top. Therefore, is it possible to do the climbing at 10 pm?

Continue reading "Can I climb Mount Fuji at 10 pm?"

Jul 31, 2022

Big Bear's new CD released July 10th!

Congrats to my musician friend Mr. Hidekazu Okuma (大熊秀和), whom we affectionately refer to as Big Bear (the English translation of his family name Okuma), on the release of his band's latest CD on July 10th.

I’ve been following and supporting Big Bear's music for the past 15 years and his "Big Bears" group is without question one of the hottest rock bands in Katsushika, Tokyo.

He is the lead singer and guitarist of his band and wrote 5 of the 7 songs on their new CD. He also sings 4 of the ​​CD's songs in English, including an excellent rendition of “Crossroads," the classic hit from the 60s by Eric Clapton and his band Cream.

Way to go, Big Bear! I hope you sell lots of CDs…

(click link to hear new CD on YouTube video)

Continue reading "Big Bear's new CD released July 10th!"

Jul 31, 2022

I climbed Mt. Fuji on July 23-25, 2022!

This summer, I successfully reached the summit of Mt. Fuji, which I had longed to do! The view from above the clouds, which I saw for the first time after

Continue reading "I climbed Mt. Fuji on July 23-25, 2022!"

Jul 18, 2022

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"

Jul 17, 2022

Ruy Ueda sets new world record for running up and down Mt. Fuji’s 4 trails in less than 10 hours

"28-year-old Japanese athlete Ruy Ueda has set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for running all of Mount Fuji’s four trails non-stop, a total distance of 57.06km with 6,772m of ascent. He completed the feat in nine hours, 55 minutes and 41 seconds, a world record when ratified....

....He finished third in the 2021 Skyrunning World Championships. That same year he became the first Asian Skyrunning World Champion after winning the Men’s Vertical Kilometer in Lleida, Spain. To prepare his body for this challenge, Ueda travelled to the Alps and trained with ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander, competing in Austria’s Hochkönigman, where he won the downhill race, and France’s Mont Blanc marathon, where he came in third."

(click link to see photo and watch video)

Continue reading "Ruy Ueda sets new world record for running up and down Mt. Fuji’s 4 trails in less than 10 hours"

Jul 09, 2022

Rest in peace, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三首相)

As we come to grips with yesterday's appalling tragedy here in Japan and reflect back on former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's many accolades, including becoming the youngest post-war Prime Minister and being the longest serving Japanese Prime Minister in history, I was reminded of his ​​tireless efforts thru the years to promote and solidify the special friendship between Japan and the U.S., including his address 7 years ago to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in nearly flawless English. R.I.P, Abe-san…

(click link to see video of Abe-san's address to Congress)

Continue reading "Rest in peace, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三首相)"

Jul 03, 2022

Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳), Japan's 33rd highest peak

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 2000 climb of Mt. Yatsu-ga-take, elev. 2899m, Japan's 33rd highest peak.

Continue reading "Mt. Yatsu-ga-take (八ヶ岳), Japan's 33rd highest peak"

Jul 02, 2022

List of Mt. Fuji Mountain Huts (富士山の山小屋)

Listing of Mt. Fuji Yoshida Trail mountain huts, including website URLs, phone numbers, elevations, and sleeping capacities, as well as links to the Fujinomiya trail hut sites.

Continue reading "List of Mt. Fuji Mountain Huts (富士山の山小屋)"

Jul 02, 2022

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2022

Posts include a tribute to friend Thomas Arthur Todd, the amazing

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2022"

Jul 01, 2022

Mt. Fuji's 2022 climbing season opened on July 1!

SHOW TIME! The Yoshida trail on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of Mount Fuji opened yesterday on July 1, a day known as Yamabiraki (山開き), marking the beginning of the summer Mt. Fuji mountain climbing season that will continue through Sept. 10.

Until the other 3 trails from Shizuoka Prefecture open on 7/10, the Yoshida downhill trail from the top of the trail to the junction near the Gansomuro mountain hut is still closed, so downhill climbers will be required to go down the uphill trail, sharing it with uphill climbers.

Also, the Ohachimeguri (お鉢めぐり) loop trail around the summit crater remains closed till 7/10... and access to Kengamine, Japan's actual highpoint, is also off-limits due to remaining snow in the area.

(click link to view photos)

Continue reading "Mt. Fuji's 2022 climbing season opened on July 1!"

Jun 27, 2022

WHY ARE YOU STILL IN JAPAN?

​​Having recently celebrated 31 years in Japan, I can definitely relate to a number of these responses by other foreigners in Japan to that very important question.

- 55% of people stated that they loved their life in Japan.

- 35% of people said that safety was a big factor in why they are still living in Japan.

- 35% of people said that they stayed in Japan due to COVID-19 restricting their options to move back home or abroad.

- 20% of people interviewed said that they had more job opportunities in Japan than in their home country or another country.

- 11% of people felt that Japan was their home now.

Source: Metropolis Japan magazine, Summer 2022 issue

(click link to read individual responses from foreigners in Japan)

Continue reading "WHY ARE YOU STILL IN JAPAN?"

Jun 23, 2022

How long is the historic Mt. Fuji Yoshidaguchi Trail?

I know that starting at the 5th station makes it an 11.6 mile loop, but if you were to start and end at the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine following

Continue reading "How long is the historic Mt. Fuji Yoshidaguchi Trail? "

Jun 17, 2022

Success is built by what you do, not by what limits you.

Did you know that:

— Albert Einstein was 4 years old before he could speak.

— Issac Newton did poorly in grade school.

— Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him, “as a composer he ishopeless.”

— When Thomas Edison was a boy, his teacher told him he was too stupidto learn anything.

— F.W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21, but his employer would not let him wait on customers because he “didn’t have enough sense.”

— Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

— A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas.”

— Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.

— Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school in his sophomore year. He was persuaded to come back and placed in a learning disabled class. He lasted a month and dropped out of school forever.

I don't think we'd consider any of these people a failure. So what allowed them to be successful even amidst struggles?

The answer to that question may be less in what they did do and more in what they didn't do.

(courtesy of Dan Miller, Career Coach & Author of 48 Days to the Work You Love)

Continue reading "Success is built by what you do, not by what limits you."





Japan-Texas ebook cover thumbnail
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Pattaya ebook cover
Only $1.99 at Amazon
(¥214 at アマゾン日本)




Alaska ebook cover
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Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
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What's New?

  1. My 2022 Texas vacation pics!

    Sep 24, 22 12:47 AM

    For the first time in 3 years, I was able to visit my home state of Texas. It was an action-packed experience and very culturally rewarding. :-) I hope you enjoy my pics! If you have time, you can vie…

    Read more

  2. Gary J. Wolff's Blog

    Sep 24, 22 12:40 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.

    Read more

  3. Engineering Student Leadership Service Award

    Sep 18, 22 08:55 AM

    In 1970 the Student Engineering Council of the University of Texas at Austin established the Student Leadership Award in Engineering. Each year 6 awards are presented and each recipient receives a fra…

    Read more










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GW's road trip ebook cover
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new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
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Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥343 at アマゾン日本)