Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Posts relating to Japan and things Japanese

Yahoo! Requires a Dancing Pony to Open a New Account, but I Don’t Have a Dancing Pony

I've so many things that I want to write about lately, but just no time as I help my mom recover from a stroke. But I ran into something so frustrating that I just have to rant a bit....

I worked for Yahoo! from 1997 to 2004, and as such it has a special place in my heart despite how it's deteriorated over the years. Knowing how it's deteriorated, though, didn't prepare me for what I ran into recently when trying to create a Yahoo! account for my mom.

I recently set my folks up with a new TV, a [...]

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Poking Around Miyajima Island and its Daisho-in Temple


Last week I caught a cold that absolutely lay waste to me... I think it was the worst cold I've ever gotten. I'm mostly recovered now. Somewhere along the line I heard a friend was headed to Miyajima, and that reminded me that I've got plenty of photos I've not yet posted, so while I recover, here are a few photos from a trip to Miyajima two years ago...

I've posted photos of the famous gate many times, including in:

Main Gate of the Itsukushima Shrine, at Night Why I Shoot Raw: Recovering From Disasters Miyajima at Low Tide [...]
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Looking for a US-Based Phone Number for my Japanese iPhone

I'm looking for recommendations on getting a US phone number on my Japanese cell phone, via VOIP. I currently have such a thing with Skype, but their app and feature design are gratuitously stupid... just amazingly dumb.

My needs are simple... I pay a fee to get a US-based phone number, and when someone dials that number, it rings on an app on my iPhone. And using that same app, I can dial out. Voice messages a bonus.

I'd like to use Vonage's app (I've been a normal Vonage customer for a decade), but it doesn't work with Japanese phones.

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The Frustrating Fallacy of “Next Day Air”

Ordering something online from a US retailer last Friday, for domestic delivery. I was given the option to pay $20 for "Next Day Air". When I selected that option, the expected delivery date was updated to.... Tuesday, four days hence.

Folks in America know nothing other than this shady date math... an order placed on Friday doesn't get processed or shipped until Monday, so "next day" isn't until Tuesday, but it drives me crazy. In Japan, when you order something for the next day, it arrives The Next Day.

For example, in Japan, "Amazon Prime" is "free next-day delivery". If [...]
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Kyoto Cyclocross Bicycle Race: Final Roundup

This should be my final post about having watched my first cyclocross bicycle races recently.

There was a lot of mud.

Most photos in previous posts (the intro, "Practice at the Mud Baths", "The First Two Races", and "Falling in the Mud") concentrated on areas I called "the Mud Bath" and "Mud Hill". I finally got far enough through my photos to find some that show them in context a bit... here's a wider view showing folks going through and away from the Mud Bath....

A reverse-angle shot from the overpass in the distance...

Some other random shots from the [...]

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Falling in the Mud: A Cyclocratic Medaphore for Life

Last week's "Watching My First Cyclocross Bike Race" opened with the photo above. Today I'll share the whole fun sequence of photos that followed.

As I write this I'm dealing with a family medical emergency in America, and as I sit in a hospital waiting room, these photos from a cyclocross bicycle race last week in Kyoto Japan strike me as a perfect metaphor for life: if you suffer a setback, just shake it off, put on a smile, and continue forward.

(PS: I just made up the "Cyclocratic" seen in the title; there's probably a more grammatically-appropriate word I [...]

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Muddy Kyoto Cylocross: The First Two Races

This post, brought to you at 4am by jetlag, is a continuation from "Cyclocross Races: Practice at the Mud Bath". Above we have the very first rider of the first race to make it to where I was at the Mud Bath.

The first race actually was three separate races run in parallel: "Category 3" (men who had earned the right to advance from the anyone-can-enter Category 4), "Masters 2" (men 40 and over who have done well enough to progress from Masters 3 and Masters 4), and "U17", children 17 and under who, presumably, are too old or too [...]

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Cyclocross Races: Practice at the Mud Bath

I'm currently at airport hotel in Osaka (which I've recommended before) so I can make an early flight out in the morning, for an unfortunately-sudden family-emergency trip to America. Having arrived here with plenty of time, I'll go ahead follow up on this weekend's "Watching My First Cyclocross Bike Race".

Today's pictures concentrate on the Mud Bath during the practice before the races.

A common pattern was for the rider to enter fast and powerful, with the apparent intention to just brute force his way through the mud. This would have been fine except that the mud was sufficiently deep [...]

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Watching My First Cyclocross Bike Race

Today was the last race of the local cyclocross-racing season, and I took the opportunity to see some friends race. Cyclocross bicycle racing is sort of like mini-obstacle-course bicycle racing, with a few laps on a relatively short course going over steep embankments, through mud and sand, over barriers, etc. It rained quit a bit a few days ago, so the course had plenty of photogenic mud.

I literally have not yet seen all the photos I took, but I wanted share a few so as to share the gist of the day.

There are races throughout the day for [...]

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Great Excitement in Small Pleasures: A Starbucks Opens Nearby

The old Kyoto Theater Hall near my house reopened today after some years of renovation, emerging as "ROHM Theater Kyoto" (ロームシアター京都). ROHM is a semiconductor company based here in Kyoto, last mentioned on my blog more than 10 years ago, before I got into photography or even blogging that much, on this post about their annual Christmas lights at their company headquarters. They must have paid a boatload of money to someone to get branding rights for this renovated concert/theater complex.

I have a vague recollection of seeing some kind of performance at the original theater 25 years ago, when [...]

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Lazy New-Year Break and Reflections on Last Year’s Cycling

It's been a mostly-lazy New Year break for me, just hanging out at home with the family, working here and there on my Lightroom plugins, from time to time updating roads I cycle a lot at with much more accurate road data than they currently have, and some general vegetating.

I did get to bookmark the change of year with a last bicycle ride in 2015 up into the mountains north of Kyoto on the last day of the year. There was even a bit of snow. Brrrr. Then on January 2nd, I did a lazy ride to the [...]

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Cycling with Kentaro Kataoka on His First “Real” Ride

The other day I went on a ride with Kentaro Kataoka ("Ken-chan"), who has been a friend for a long time. He's a sports-massage masseur with his own clinic.

He's been on my blog a number of times over the years, such as when he graduated from massage school four years ago, giving a friend an impromptu massage last year, or just seeing the sights with me (here and here).

He does a lot of running (street and mountain), but is new to cycling, having just bought his first "real" road bike. We went on our first ride together the [...]

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Surprises With New Caledonia Traffic Signs

On my recent trip to New Caledonia, I did a fair amount of driving. As someone with limited driving experience outside of North America and Japan, some of the street signs were not intuitive, such as this bicycle-related sign that I presented as A New Caledonia No-Bikes-Allowed “What am I?” Quiz:

To someone used to driving in North America or Japan, the sign above clearly and unambiguously means "No Bicycles Allowed", because anything with a diagonal red slash through it means "No  whatever  Allowed".

Along those lines, the sign at right would clearly mean "no cars allowed", but in New [...]

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Revisiting Fall Colors: Kyoto Mountain Cycling Two Weeks Ago

Just a quick writeup with some pictures of a nice group ride that I did two weeks ago with some of the stronger riders from Cycling Kyoto!. I was by far the newest, weakest, slowest, least experienced among them, but they're a nice fun group so they made me feel welcome.


It was wet from a recent rain, so quite slippery. Discretion is the better part of valor, so Tomas aborted the attempt. I didn't even try. But as Rick H had suggested, I did measure the slope with the Compass Tool in my iPhone:

UPDATE: I originally wrote [...]

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Bicycle Ride to Osaka with Paul Barr

As I mentioned in "Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early", Paul Barr and I rode our bikes down to Osaka from Kyoto. It's about 50km each way, so the round trip was about 100km (62mi) total.

Here's our trip on my cycling heatmap.

I'd made the same trip by myself earlier in the week, and written how windy it was for much of the day, but the wind during the trip down with Paul was by far the strongest sustained winds I'd ever ridden a bicycle in, on par with a medium-sized typhoon. It was just ridiculous. [...]

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A Past-Its-Prime Visit to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine

My timing is getting all mixed up, but two days ago I posted about the Ochiba Shrine, with pictures from two weeks ago when it was in its full carpet-of-leaves splendor. By the time I'd posted it (two days ago) the splendor had passed; this post contains photos from a visit two days ago.

On the way home, we stopped by the Yama no Ie Hasegawa restaurant for coffee...

And dinner...

And dessert...

A visit here is always a nice way to end an outing.

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Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early

Today on a ride from Kyoto to Osaka Castle with Paul Barr, early on the trip while still in Kyoto we came across some cherry blossoms that had apparently gotten confused by the cold spell in October followed by a warm spell earlier this month... they seem to be blooming five months early!

Some varieties of cherry do normally bloom in November, such as we've over the years here, here, and here, but their branches are sparsely populated with blossoms. Today's were full:


Whatever they were, they were pretty and out of place.

I made a short video of [...]

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Cycling to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine Amid the Fall Colors

I've been meaning to write about a nice little solo ride I had two weeks ago, to the Ochiba Jinja shrine. It's the same place that I wrote about in "Great Day in Kyoto’s Colorful Northern Mountains", which actually happened the next day.

The course for this day's solo ride can be seen on my cycling heatmap.

The fall colors had been pretty subdued, but with my health back after six weeks of colds/allergy/something, everything looked beautiful to me.

The small sign pointed up what looked like a driveway, but turned out to be an old logging road. I probably [...]

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Flat, Windless Trip to Osaka; Blustery, Hilly Trip Back

I've ridden my bike to Osaka three times so far. The first time was this ride in June; I'm using photos from that ride on today's post.

The second time was last month with a non-Cycling friend, and the third was yesterday, by myself.

A drunk man in the train knocked Anthony's phone to the ground, smashing its screen. Anthony being a kid, and the drunk man being a drunk man, Anthony felt he could do nothing but suck it up. Part of sucking it up means visiting the closest Apple Store to have the screen replaced, so I took [...]

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Wigglegram of a Pleasant Couple Among the Fall Colors at Kyoto’s Enkoji Temple

On a visit to the Enkoji Temple in northeast Kyoto yesterday, this couple in traditional kimono kindly posed for a wigglegram:

Anyone wearing kimono in these settings is certainly noticed by the camera, and it turns out that my camera had noticed her earlier, lost in thought in the main garden-viewing room...

This was part of Day 2 of Paul Barr's visit to Kyoto, which I'll write more about later. Day 1 was a visit to the Tenjuan Temple.

To be continued...

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