Category Archives: general

Typhoon Phanfone

We spent most of the day inside watching and waiting as the typhoon approached Tokyo. It looks like we are scheduled for it to pass over the heart of the city early tomorrow morning. School is cancelled for Monday, so it looks like another pajama day tomorrow!


“Team Bob” at Kujukuri Triathlon

This weekend was the 1st Anniversary Kujukuri Triathlon; which definitely sounds better than the 2nd Annual Kujukuri Triathlon (so, good call on the name from the marketing people).

Along the northeast coast of the Bōsō Peninsula in the Chiba Prefecture, Kujukuri is a beach community approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) long, making it the second longest beach in Japan. Now, as the crow flies, it is not all that far from Tokyo…unfortunately, you can’t fly like a crow and the drive all the way around the peninsula can be quite long (2.5 hours yesterday).

On to the triathlon, which is Olympic Distance. It was an honor to be asked to be part of “Team Bob” in the relay division.

“Bob” (actual name Ozeki-san) led us off with the 1.5km (1 mile) swim. He is a very experienced tri-athlete, having competed individually in a few Half-IronMan Triathlons. Mariko, who coordinated our team and entry into the event, handled the 40km (25 mile) bike segment. Finally, yours truly, handled the 10km (6 mile) run.



We completed the event in a quite respectable 2:45.


Tropical Storm Halong

Literally, as this is being written, the outer edge of Tropical Storm Halong is passing by the west of Tokyo.


So, what’s it like? Not too bad, but quite fascinating visually. Here is a look at how it appears outside our apartment window. The left side was taken near the ‘peak’ of the rainfall and the right is only about 5 minutes later.


He’s Back!

Xeno came back from “camp” today. Based on the pictures from his time there…it looks like he had basically the best dog camp experience ever!


But, based on how he has been since getting home, it appears it was also one of the most exhausting experiences ever!


By the way, if you ever need a place to watch your dog while in Tokyo, Dog, Inc. is highly recommended.

Happy Tokyo Marathon Lottery Entry Start Day!

Today, August 1st, lottery entry for the 2015 Tokyo Marathon started. You see, unless you are an elite runner or are sponsored, in order to run in the Tokyo Marathon (which takes place on February 22, 2015) you must enter a lottery and pray for luck.

One of the six World Marathon Majors (along with Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York), the Tokyo Marathon is one of the toughest races to gain entry. Last year, over 306,000 people entered the lottery for 25,000 spots.


Lottery entrants are notified in late September as to whether they were successful or not. Here’s hoping for better luck this year than last!

Universal Studios Japan – Osaka

It seems as though this has turned out to be an attractions week. So, why not keep the theme running? Last week, I had the chance to visit Osaka and, more specifically, Universal Studios Japan.


Osaka is about 4 hours south of Tokyo via (the quite enjoyable) Shinkansen. Opened on March 31, 2001, Universal Studios Japan was the 9th most visited theme park in the world last year. The park itself is a blend of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; offering an eclectic mix of rides and an overall experience largely focused on high-energy, contemporary ‘fun’.

Classic Universal Studios attractions such as Back to the Future the Ride, Backdraft, and Jaws are joined by newer offerings like the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Jurassic Park, and Space Fantasy (a locally-developed, very unique indoor coaster).

The main reason for the visit, however, was to see the newly (July 15th) opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Nearly an exact copy of the version at Islands of Adventure, this installation offers a slightly better sense of immersion (it is set-back quite a bit from the rest of the park and includes the Black Lake) and has double the capacity for Ollivander’s Wand Shop; but, there is no Dragon Challenge coaster.


Overall, Universal Studios Japan makes for a very fun day. Just a few pieces of advice: plan ahead, purchase your park tickets in advance, and invest in their “Universal Express Pass 7” (which provides you with a reserved time entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as well as ‘front of the line’ access to Forbidden Journey and 6 other high-demand rides). While the additional ¥7,900 for the Express Pass (on peak days) on top of the ¥6,980 park ticket price may seem steep, it will make all the difference in the world and you will be glad you did it.

Tokyo Dome City – Thunder Dolphin

As mentioned yesterday, there are several amusement areas and multitudes of individual rides at Tokyo Dome City; but, without question, the ‘big dog’ here is Thunder Dolphin.

This ¥3.7B mega-coaster, designed and built by Intamin, originally opened on May 1, 2003. At 80 metres (260 ft) tall, Thunder Dolphin is currently the 7th tallest continuous circuit roller coaster in the world and reaches speeds of 130 kilometers per hour (81 miles per hour).


Now, the reason it says “originally opened” above is that on December 5, 2010 a 25cm (10″) bolt fell from the ride and contacted a young visitor below. The ride was closed for over two and a half years following the incident, reopening (with netting installed beside and below the track) on August 1, 2013.

For ¥1,030, you can experience this coaster’s 1,066.8 metre (3,500′) long course; which passes through both a hole in the LaQua building and the hub of the world’s first centerless Ferris wheel.

Want a view from the front seat (before the installation of the netting)? Check out this video from