On Sunday 3 Sept 2023, I did a 6hr solo point-to-point hike in Hakone, ascending 903m up to Myojingatake (明神が岳, 1169m) from Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple (大雄山最乗寺 aka Doryoson), and descending 719m to Miyagino (宮城野) on Rt. 138, traveling over about 9km. From there I took the bus down to Kami-to-no-sawa (上塔ノ沢), then walked to an onsen for a scrub and a soak.
When I hiked up Myojogatake, I had intended to go up Myojingatake as well, but I was tired that day and opted out.
On Monday 18 Sept 2023, on Respect-for-the-Aged day, I did a 5hr solo point-to-point hike in Hakone, up the “old Tokaido” and “old Hakone Town” roads, ascending 752m and descending 119m over 10.7km. This was not up a single mountain per se, but was plenty tiring going up a very long slope, as the humidity is still hanging around even in September. The hike started in Hakone Yumoto, then followed the road then trails all the way up to Lake Ashi.
On Sunday 27 August 2023, I challenged myself to an approx 5:45hr 6.8km solo hike in the Tanzawa range on a hot and humid day (it suddenly rained at the end), ascending about 905m up Mt. Oyama starting in the shopping district around 7am, climbing up via the “Onna-zaka” (women’s slope) route to the summit, then descending about 630m down via Miharashidai to the “Shimosha” shrine area, and finally down by cable car.
My wife told me about an awful thing happening in Japan. Some hunters who use “gun dogs” or “scent hounds” to flush out prey, will abandon them in the forest, chained up at the end of the hunting season in early spring, or let them stray, after which they get picked up and taken to a shelter. These people are really scum to be treating an innocent dog so cruelly like that.
I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since we got married. To celebrate, we booked a tour of Shimane and Tottori prefectures, and had a fantastic time. We did a tour so we could not have to plan, and drink without worrying about someone having to drive. We took the bullet train from Shin Yokohama to Okayama, then went on the tour bus to Adachi Museum, then to Tamazukuri Onsen for the first night.
I finally got my proper Japan driver’s license, and what an ordeal it’s been. Fasten your seatbelts for this one and just note that you must convert, and cannot drive on an IDP for more than one year. Anyway, here goes:
The incident I’ve been in Japan since 1987 and did not drive for the first 4 or 5 years. I always have kept my US license current, and after getting married, got and started using an international license.
Our dog “Maru”, a male Shiba, is going through a rebellious phase now at 11 months old. Our trainer told us Shibas especially go through a phase between 6 and 18 months where they seem to forget every bit of their training, won’t listen to commands, won’t eat, won’t crate, forget there they’re supposed to pee; all manner of fun stuff. Yep, it’s happening. He’s being extra difficult now, but there are still flashes of that obedient, cute little guy from, um, two weeks ago!
A while back, the morning news in Japan did an unironic piece on “how much is too much reclining” in trains and planes. The result was, most people in Japan felt that 40.4 cm (15.90551 in) was the max they wanted someone in front of them to recline. In typical Japan News fashion, they measured distances and angles, and got a cute little girl to say when she felt uncomfortable when the man in front reclined.
Thinking about motivation and how to motivate, I came to a conclusion that works for me. Praising someone for what they are already good at, is a waste of an interaction. The person being praised learns nothing, especially if you or others have said it before. The praiser misses a chance to make any sort of difference, and can fall into a rut of doing nothing to improve or better themselves.
I like comedy because laughter makes me feel better, while the heavy stuff comes for free. What about in Japan? Japan has some interesting comedy or “owarai” styles that are good to know for learners of Japanese. It might be really, really esoteric to those who don’t speak any Japanese, but if you’re trying to get from intermediate to advanced any language, you could do worse than to listen to, and learn some comedy in that language.
The other day I had to do three bank transfers for my company, since my business partner who usually takes care of this, couldn’t. The bank tellers are really very polite, but it took three hours, and I can’t get away from the idea that they are also completely incompetent, albeit really politely.
The thing is, I had only the bank book and the hanko (stamp). If you have the cash card and PIN, it’s easy to do a bank transfer.
Robert on Strava says he “just takes the stings and calls it free Vespa”, which is funny, but Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia) in Japan are no joke. Read on to find out why.
Sept and Oct is breeding season for the Japanese Hornet, which is when they get aggressive. In Japanese, these are called “oo-suzumebachi (オオスズメバチ)” meaning “great sparrow bee” because of their large size. You know you’re in trouble when they start clacking their mandibles.
Japan Rail’s IC rail pass “Suica” is so named because it helps daily commuters pass through gates easily, i.e. in a “Sui-Sui” manner, since 2001. Penguins are skillful swimmers, passing in and around obstacles with ease, so that’s why the “Suica Penguin” was born. Its designer is the lovely Chiharu Sakazaki 坂崎千春, who modeled it after an Adélie penguin. Ironically, people shuffling towards escalators during rush hour, walk a lot like penguins.
2022 update: A blast from the past. We have been living in our new house for a month, and the three cats the neighbor who died had been feeding, are now visiting us in expectation. It made me think of this post.
At the Waseda University “Wasesai” festival on 4th Nov 2018, Akiko and I visited some club displays in the classrooms, to kill some time before our daughter’s concerts. One interesting one was the “Waseneko” circle. Here’s why it was cool: