Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

We don’t technically celebrate American Thanksgiving in Japan (although the country observes “Labor Thanksgiving” this coming Friday, in recognition of all Japanese workers’ efforts and the products they produce). However, gratitude is never out of season, and although you can take the girl out of the United States, you’ll probably never completely take the U.S. holidays out of this particular girl. In recognition of which, I’m thinking about all the things I’m grateful for this week.

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Almost-Halfway 100 Summits Update!

Almost-Halfway 100 Summits Update!

I’ve been climbing my way through the autumn, and simultaneously working on the next Hiro Hattori mystery (tentatively titled Ghost of the Bamboo Grove), and it occurred to me that I’ve been a bit remiss in my blogging updates. Whoops . . . The summit count currently stands at 43 – a respectable almost-halfway total, though the coming snow will present some challenges moving forward.

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Torikabuto and Takanosu

Torikabuto and Takanosu

Yesterday saw the addition of three more peaks to my #100Summits list, thanks to a traverse of two peaks and a gondola-assisted climb of a third in the Hakone area. While I’ll give more details about the later two climbs in the weeks to come, today I’m sharing a little about the first, which also involved research for my next Hiro Hattori mystery (the first one to involve a ghost).

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The Great Toilet Parade Mystery of 2018

The Great Toilet Parade Mystery of 2018

My Japanese skills are improving rapidly since my move to Japan, and I’ve achieved a state of relative (dis)comfort with basic functions like travel,  shopping, restaurants, and paying basic bills. In other areas, I can often “keyword spot” and intuit the portions of a conversation I don’t know, to at least achieve an acceptable result. However, it doesn’t take much to remind me that, in the immortal words of Robert Frost, I have “miles to go before I sleep” in terms of linguistic fluency. Case in point: this afternoon’s Great Toilet Parade. (Read to the end to understand the photo…)

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Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

My third and longest climb in Hokkaido was the first on my 100 Summits quest that I almost failed to complete. But it wasn’t pain or exhaustion that almost cost me the summit. On Tomuraushi, as always, time proved my worst enemy. My guide Takuto and I began our hike at 7:40 am at the trailhead near Tomuraushi Onsen, where we’d spent the night. If you read the sign, you’ll notice the peak lies 9.2km from the trailhead – and they’re not an easy nine kilometers, either. The hike begins with a lovely walk through pristine forest. It has some

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