Akita  Alaska  Australia  Cambodia  Canada  Code  Computer  Costa Rica  Dance  Discrimination  Education  English  Flashcards  Food  Geography  Hawaii  Health  Hiking  Hokkaido  Hungary  Indonesia  Japan  Japanese  Jordan  Logic  Malaysia  Math  Motorcycle  Music  Nature  New Zealand  Newspaper  Nicaragua  Norway  Paperwork  Police  Qatar  Recipe  School  Shawangunks  South Korea  Sports  Taiwan  Teaching  Textbook  Thailand  Tokyo  Travel  USA  Vietnam  Visa

Hiking in Shikoku


For spring break this year, I took my car on the ferry from Tokyo to Tokushima and went hiking and car camping in Shikoku. Six years ago I did a similar trip by motorcycle, and it was good then, so why not mix it up with a revisit by car? There were bicycles to ride and mountains to climb.

20230325.1.Miune.jpg 20230325.2.Tsurugi.jpg 20230325.3.Tsurugi.jpg 20230326.1.Ryuo.jpg 20230327.1.Shimanami.jpg 20230327.2.Beach.jpg 20230328.1.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.2.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.3.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.4.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230329.1.Iya.jpg 20230329.2.Minodanofuchi.jpg

It was my goal to climb Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Ishizuchi, because they're on Japan's Top 100 Mountains list. Along with those two mountains are Mt. Ryuo and Mt. Miune, which are less famous, and those four mountains are the highest points of each of the four prefectures in Shikoku. Mt. Ryuo isn't even a hike — you can drive to the summit — but the other three mountains were around 10 km jaunts up the hills. Late March weather can be spotty, so there aren't many other hikers around, so it makes for a relaxing time.

Later in the trip I headed west to ride on the Shimanami Kaido, a bicycle path that runs from Imabari in the south to Onomichi in the north, bridging the island chain from Ehime to Hiroshima. I rented a bike in Imabari, and it took about seven hours at a leisurely pace to get to Onomichi. Getting back to my car in the south was complicated: walking, a ferry, more walking, a highway bus, and yet another long walk. The path was also on my list of sixteen motorcycle roads.

If you live in Kanto and have a car, Shikoku is a great spring break location. The ferry is slow but inexpensive, there are many free or cheap campgrounds, and there's a lot to explore. Along with the above-mentioned hikes and rides, I spent a day driving through the Iya Valley, replete with thatch roofs, vine bridges, and mountain valleys with crystal clear streams.

20230331.1.Tokyo-Tokushima.png 20230331.2.Shikoku.png



Here are some pictures from a two-week Christmas vacation trip to Sabah, Malaysia.

20221225.1.Sipadan.jpg 20221225.3.Mabul.jpg 20221227.1.Sign.jpg 20221227.2.Roti.jpg 20221227.3.Hill.jpg 20221227.4.Hill.jpg 20221227.5.Dock.jpg 20221227.6.Dinner.jpg 20221228.3.Orangutan.jpg 20221231.2.River.jpg 20221231.4.Lunch.jpg 20221231.5.Macaque.jpg 20230101.1.River.jpg 20230101.2.Lodge.jpg 20230103.2.Mosque.jpg

A few years ago I was diving in Bali, and a couple on the dive boat recommended Sipadan. So this year, as COVID restrictions were easing around most of the world, I wanted to go somewhere new, so Sipadan it was.

I did three days of diving in Sipadan. Sipadan is a famous diving destination, and I was impressed. We saw all kinds of creatures: jack fish, barracuda, bump head, white tip sharks, turtles, lion fish, cuttlefish, manta rays, sting rays, scorpion fish, frog fish, tuna, mantis shrimps. The schools of bump head were freaky looking, and we had some amazing barracuda cyclones. After Sipadan, I took a day for easy hiking around Semporna.

It's a quick flight up to Sandakan, and from there a short taxi ride to Sepilok and the urangutans. You can watch the urangutans get fed at the rehabilitation center. Next door is a sun bear rehabilitation center, which is also pretty cool. I also did some hiking at the Rainforest Discovery Center.

Next on the trip was the Lower Kinbatangan River. A three-day two-night package with mosquito-laden nature walks and mosquito-free river cruises revealed all manner of wildlife: long tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, egrets, baby and adult crocodiles, hornbills, osprey, an orangutan, kingfishers, Pacific swallows, storm storks, Oriental darters, eagles, and more. There's a lot of beautiful nature in this country.

My last two days were in Kota Kinabalu, the state capitol. There is a museum, plus some mosques to see. Malaysia is not famous for its food, but if you look carefully there's tasty stuff to be found. I had some great seafood meals, and there are many good coffee shops to be found. A leisurely stroll through the city was a nice way to end the vacation.

20230104.1.Malaysia.png 20230104.2.Borneo.png 20230104.3.Sabah.png



It was nice to get to the U.S. after three years. At the beginning of COVID-19, international travel was absurdly difficult. After a while things settled down, but until the spring of 2022, the Japanese government's immigration policy required a length quarantine upon return to Japan. It's hard to do that unless you work from home, which I don't, but now the rules are more relaxed so it was time to take a jaunt across the Pacific and see how America is faring.

20220725.1.5571.jpg 20220726.1.Cora-Betsy.jpg 20220726.2.Dakota.jpg 20220726.3.Bismarck.jpg 20220726.4.Cookies.jpg 20220727.1.Pembina.jpg 20220727.2.Elevator.jpg 20220728.1.5571.jpg 20220729.1.5571.jpg

I went to North Dakota along with George and Cora. Betsy and Dex had a Christmas party despite the seasonal inconsistency. We also went to see the Sound of Music at Frostfire, rode some bikes, and went tubing on the Red Lake River. It worked out well.

After five days in the upper Midwest, I flew to Seattle, and Marjorie and Andrew and I took a road trip down through Corvalis, where we met up with Ross for an afternoon, and then west to the coast from Newport down to Arcata before slowly working our way back to Portland. There was so much cool stuff. I don't know what the best place was, because it was all good, but the two locations I'd wanted to go for decades were Redwood National Park and Crater Lake, and they lived up to the hype.

20220730.1.Rainier.jpg 20220731.1.MJ-Doug-Ross-Andrew.jpg 20220731.2.Corvalis.jpg 20220731.6.Thors_Well.jpg 20220802.1.Redwoods.jpg 20220802.2.Trees.jpg 20220803.1.Klamath.jpg 20220804.2.Foot.jpg 20220805.1.Pasta.jpg 20220805.2.Crater_Lake.jpg 20220805.4.Chipmunk.jpg 20220806.2.Salt_Creek.jpg 20220806.3.Salt_Creek.jpg 20220807.1.Ramona.jpg

On Marjorie and Andrew's last day, we drove up to Portland and saw Toby for few hours. Then I went camping and hiking near Mt. Hood for a couple of days. And finally I drove back to Seattle, saw Matt and Diana and Nash for a day, met AJ for lunch, and flew back to Japan.

20220808.1.Hood.jpg 20220808.2.Hood.jpg 20220811.1.Rainier.jpg USA.svg

Ascending Kumotori


Mt. Kumotori is one of Japan's famous peaks, and it's a nice overnight excursion from Tokyo. Takeshi said you could climb it in winter. So now, fourteen months after he told me that, I have gone to the top, and it was well worth the effort.

The trail head is at the end of a bus route that departs from Okutama Station. You could theoretically take early morning trains from central Tokyo to make this connection, but it would involve waking up at some obnoxiously early hour. I stayed at a hotel in Mitake, got up at 6:15, and went on my way. I took a leisurely morning and got to the trail head around 9:00, the summit at 12:30, and then got back to the trail head by 3:00. 22 kilometers in 7 hours is a fairly relaxed pace, but I wouldn't want to go faster because if you work up too much of a sweat, you get cold when you stop.

The views were spectacular. Mt. Fuji to the southwest, the Alps to the west, and Tokyo itself off to the east, it was all crystal clear today. There was a little wind but not much. It's February, so it's cold outside, and you definitely need spikes to do this climb in the off season, but if you can find a day like today, go for it.

20220223.1.Okutama.jpg 20220223.2.Hiking.jpg 20220223.3.Shrine.jpg 20220223.4.Nanatsuishi.jpg 20220223.5.Fuji.jpg 20220223.6.Kumotori.jpg 20220223.7.Kumotori.jpg 20220223.8.Ice.jpg 20220223.9.Kumotori.png

Cold Breakfast Oatmeal


This is a recipe for cold breakfast oatmeal. It's a variant of Cathy's recipe.

Put oats in a 1 L mason jar, filling it 90% full. Then add the dried cranberries, nuts, and cinnamon. Put on the lid and shake to mix. Then add the honey, and finally add milk to fill the entire jar. Put on the lid and shake to mix. Store refrigerated. Wait 12+ hours before eating.

The oats will gradually absorb the milk. Each morning, after you spoon out your breakfast, add more milk to cover the oats.

Steel cut oats are chewy. You might prefer rolled oats (non-instant & uncooked). For rolled oats, around 300 g are needed. Pecans and apple slices are also delicious.

It takes me 4-5 days to finish off a batch. A pre-made high fiber tasty breakfast is great for those on the move.


Camping in Yamanashi


For winter break I rented a van and went camping in Yamanashi with a side trip to Nagoya. Late December is a questionable time for camping with my 3-season gear, but the weather was cooperative. I first stayed at one free campground with a steep approach road that looked to be dangerous as hell if it ever froze over, especially in the large rental van with regular tires, and later found a spot at a nearby commercial campground.

Mt. Minobu is a mountain with a massive temple complex on it. You can walk around for free. I took the cable car up to the summit and leisurely strolled down the side of the mountain, before having hoto, a Yamanashi soup, for lunch. Because the weather for most of the trip was sunny, with almost no precipitation, walking around outside was great. As long as you don't go too fast and work up a sweat, you're good to go for hours. Another good point of the location in southern Yamanashi is the frequent views of Mt. Fuji to the south and the Japanese Alps to the north. Many of the smaller valleys have parking lots with trails leading up local mountains, and the scenery is nice wherever you go.

In early January I drove down to Nagoya, stayed in a hotel there for a couple of nights, and took a trip into the city. Marjorie told me to go see the ikemen gorilla at the Higashiyama Zoo. Later in the day I walked down to Nagoya Castle, which is quite majestic.

On the last day I drove halfway back to Tokyo, did another short day hike, slept overnight in the van at a rest area overnight, and finished off the jaunt.

20211230.1.Campfire.jpg 20211231.1.Minobusan.jpg 20211231.2.Fujikawa.jpg 20211231.3.Minobusan.jpg 20211231.4.Yamanashi.jpg 20211231.5.Minobusan.jpg 20220101.1.Hayakawa.jpg 20220102.1.Nagoya.jpg 20220102.2.Nagoya.jpg

My old plan was to travel with my parents during the break. Sadly, Omicron struck in late November and the Japanese government extended the quarantine for re-entry in Japan. As a result, people with in-person full-time jobs such as myself found it impossible to travel abroad. On the one hand, the Prime Minister's anti-foreigner policies are frustrating and accomplish little. On the other hand, domestic tourist spots are less crowded than they otherwise would be, and international travel during the Covid Era has always been a dice roll. So it goes. That aside, it was a nice break.