*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday 27 July 2014

33/100 百名山: 'Hundred Famous Mountains' (of Japan)

I did not expect to get them all, as I'm not that obsessed about them, but 33/100 is what I've got in seven full years and another two months visiting.  About one a month if you take out the winter months, but that's misleading because I've bagged one to four on each trip.  I've concentrated my climbs in the centre of Honshu both because I lived in Kanto and Chubu's where the taller peaks are.  I will be back for more, I expect.

The latest I climbed was Utsugi-dake, but it's almost put me off them: the humidity of summer extends to the peak even if the heat does not.  The high peaks are usually safe to climb June through October; however, June to mid-July is rainy, July to early September hot and humid (though less hot at altitude), typhoons can interrupt late August to early September, so really, mid-September to early November are best for the high peaks, but you're mad if you go on a weekend when all of Japan does.

Coming down from Utsugi I came across a bear in Japan for the first time in the wild, and on foot the first time ever.  Could have given the latter a pass.  Definitely an Asian Black Bear.  Not much bigger than my wife, shock of white on the tail (the bear's).  I happened to be talking to myself about the birch trees, which is as well as fifty metres ahead the bear suddenly came down from the canopy in a hurry, likely running away.  Besides that far more common than attack or mock-charges, there is a limited hunt on Honshu and you don't survive as a wild animal among 120 million people by bravery.  I took an alternative route anyway, as I was alone.

The hell with bears though, I got buzzed a couple times by suzumebachi, 'sparrow bees', which are actually hornets called 'sparrow' because they're the size of a sparrow!  I can live with those even though they bounced off the crown of my hat.  I just acted cool and kept moving.  Japan has something else called oosuzumebachi, 'giant sparrow bees', because the other ones aren't big enough?!  Saw none of those this time.  Good thing.  Scarier than bears and a sting will do as much damage.  You hear them before you see them.  You hear or see one of these you run.

If anyone cares, I've highlighted what I have climbed, in red if particularly recommended (not Fuji the touron cinder pit).  Do exercise caution and read up on a mountain before you go, and what transit runs in what season and the schedules.


1)Mt. Rishiri (利尻岳)

2) Mt. Rausu (羅臼岳)

3) Mt. Shari (斜里岳)

4) Mt. Meakan (雌阿寒岳)

5) Mt. Asahi (旭岳) 2290
6) Mt. Tomuraushi (トムラウシ山) 2141
7) Mt. Tokachi (十勝岳) 2077
8) Mt. Poroshiri (幌尻岳)

9) Mt. Yōtei (羊蹄山)


10) Mt. Iwaki (岩木山)

11) Mt. Hakkoda (八甲田山)

12) Mt. Hachimantai (八幡平)

13) Mt. Iwate (岩手山)

14) Mt. Hayachine (早池峰)

15) Mt. Chokai (鳥海山)

16) Gassan (月山)

17) Mt. Asahi (朝日岳)

18) Mt. Zao (蔵王山)

19) Mt. Iide (飯豊山)

20) Mt. Azuma (吾妻山) 2035
21) Mt. Adatara (安達太良山) 1700
22) Mt. Bandai (磐梯山) 1819
23) Mt. Aizu-komagatake (会津駒ヶ岳)
24) Mt. Nasu (那須岳) 1915

25) Mt. Echigo-komagatake (越後駒ヶ岳)
26) Mt. Hira (平ヶ岳)

27) Mt. Makihata (巻機山)

28) Mt. Hiuchi (燧岳)
29) Mt. Shibutsu (至仏岳)
30) Mt. Tanigawa (谷川岳) 1977
31) Mt. Amakazari (雨飾山)

32) Mt. Naeba (苗場山)
33) Mt. Myoko (妙高山)

34) Mt. Hiuchi (火打山)
35) Mt. Takazuma (高妻山)


36) Mt. Nantai (男体山)2484
37) Mt. Okushirane (奥白根山) 2578
38) Mt. Sukai (皇海山)
39) Mt. Hotaka (武尊山)

40) Mt. Akagi (赤城山)

41) Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane (草津白根山) 2171
42) Mt. Azumaya (四阿山)
43) Mt. Asama (浅間山) 2568
44) Mt. Tsukuba (筑波山) 876
Kita Alps

45) Mt. Shirouma (白馬岳) 2932
46) Mt. Goryu (五竜岳) 2814
47) Mt. Kashimayari (鹿島槍岳) 2899
48) Mt. Tsurugi (剣岳) 2998
49) Mt. Tateyama (立岳) 3015
50) Mt. Yakushi (薬師岳) 2926
51) Mt. Kurobegoro (黒部五郎岳) 2840
52) Mt. Kuro/Suisho (黒岳) 2986
53) Mt. Washiba (鷲羽岳) 2924
54) Mt. Yari (槍ヶ岳) 3180
55) Mt.Hotaka (穂高岳) 3190
56) Mt. Jonen (常念岳) 2857
57) Mt. Kasa (笠ヶ岳) 2899
58) Mt. Yake (焼岳) 2455
59) Mt. Norikura (乗鞍岳) 3026
60) Mt. Ontake (御岳) 3067
Yatsu-ga-take Region

61) Utsukushi-ga-hara (美ヶ原)

62) Mt. Kirigamine (霧ヶ峰)

63) Mt. Tateshina (蓼科山) 2530
64) Yatsu-ga-take(八ヶ岳) 2899
Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park
65) Mt. Ryokami (両神山)

66) Mt. Kumotori (雲取山) 2017
67) Mt. Kobushi (甲武信岳) 2475
68) Mt. Kinpu (金峰山) 2598
69) Mt. Mizugaki (瑞牆山) 2230
70) Mt. Daibosatsu (大菩薩山)
Mt. Fuji Region

71) Mt. Tanzawa (丹沢山) 1673
72) Mt. Fuji (富士山) 3776
73) Mt. Amagi (天城山)

Chuo Alps Region

74) Mt. Kiso-komagatake (木曽駒ヶ岳) 2956
75) Mt. Utsugi (空木岳) 2864
76) Mt. Ena (恵那山)

Minami Alps

77) Mt. Kai-komagatake (甲斐駒ヶ岳) 2967
78) Mt. Senjo (仙丈ヶ岳) 3033
79) Mt. Houou (鳳凰山) 2840
80) Mt. Kitadake (北岳) 3193
81) Mt. Ainodake (間ノ岳) 3189
82) Mt. Shiomi (塩見岳) 3047
83) Mt. Warusawa (悪沢岳) 3141
84) Mt. Akaishi (赤石岳) 3120
85) Mt. Hijiri (聖岳) 3013
86) Mt. Tekari (光岳) 2591
Hokuriku Region

87) Mt. Hakusan (白山) 2702
88) Mt. Arashima (荒島岳)

Kansai Region

89) Mt. Ibuki (伊吹山)

90) Mt. Odaigahara (大台ヶ原山)
91) Mt. Omine (大峰山)

92) Mt. Daisen (大山)


93) Mt. Tsurugi (剣山)

94) Mt. Ishizuchi (石鎚山)


95) Mt. Kuju (九重山)

96) Mt. Sobo (祖母山)

97) Mt. Aso (阿蘇山)
98) Mt. Kirishima (霧島山)

99) Mt. Kaimon (開聞岳)

100) Mt. Miyanoura (宮之浦岳)

Saturday 26 July 2014

'Let it go...'

Would be any time you shouldn't sing a 'torch song': you're 'straight', not headlining on Broadway, or have no sense of irony - Japanese.

I got this idea from 'Relentless Writings' dog post.

We're meant to be mature enough to take being second bested, but it doesn't mean we don't feel it.  My son, now four, since birth has made it perfectly clear I was second best to mother, which I can understand.  I didn't carry him, don't have tits, and I'm hairier and smellier.  When he makes me angry I make him deal with his mistake and am not softened up by him until he does.  He's got the mother-con of most Japanese and hybrid boys I've known, from nature or nurture.  I'll have a Japanese, or at least Asian, daughter in-law (or son in-law).

The girl, a year and a half old, has played me far better from birth.  As soon as her eyes could focus she looked into mine and smiled, and owned me.  A more recent example, I was away hiking two nights and the kids and wife were staying at mother in-law's.  I went to meet them, walking with the wife from the station to MIL's house.  We met MIL and the kids on MIL's street.  The girl looked at me as if she suddenly remembered something, smiled, ran past my wife and into my arms.  Then when we got inside I tried to put her down to take off my shoes but she screamed and clutched at me, so I had to improvise another way to get out of them.

Ain't love grand?  Sure, until she remembered her mother has a chest.  After she was done with them I went to pick her up again and she screamed at me and struggled in my arms until I put her back with her mother.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Cruising dreams

Do you think my Japanese wife will like my solution to our Toronto housing? Buy-in for about $100K for a luxurious 42' sailboat used in good condition,  $600/month dockage fees, and it travels. Sweet! More comfortable and larger than a Japanese home, or a Toronto condo. Where's the down side? 

Never going to happen...

I rather doubt my plans will go so smoothly for sailing a 27' boat, but I'd like to introduce my kids to isolated scenery in Canada before I'm too old, and they get busy as teens.  I'm fortunate to be a teacher having the two best months of the year off to sail.  The boomer teachers bought cottages, but they're all priced out now, and why would I want to spend my vacations fixing a second building (as opposed to a boat...).

2019, 49 years old, take a proper sailing course.

Buy a shared 27' boat.
2020, 50, children 10 and 7: Georgian Bay and North Channel
2021, 51, children 11 and 8: Georgian Bay and Lake Huron
2022, 52, children 12 and 9: Superior

Buy (or buy out) own boat, or get my co-owner to join the longer trip, possibly upgrading to a 32' boat, as much for room as for safety.
2023, 53, children 13 and 10: Huron, Eerie, Ontario, St. Lawrence River, to Saguenay
2024, 54, children 14 and 11: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2025, 55, children 15 and 12: Gulf of St. Lawrence
2026, 56, children 16 and 13: Newfoundland and Labrador

Much bigger plans would have to wait for retirement, which could have been sixty if I'd planned better, or had one fewer children to educate: more likely sixty-five; however, I can work a reduced year from sixty, so a four month summer is possible.

I'd love to take a boat further up the Atlantic to Baffin and Greenland, but even in summer that's an undertaking, even if I'd have the experience above.  Getting my Japanese wife to join and miss all of a summer's weather?  Be more likely to keep the marriage with a Vancouver to Juneau, Whittier or Anchorage passage.  Probably have to stow the boat and return the next year the same way.  I wonder about sailing Alaska to Hawaii...

Saturday 19 July 2014

'First World problems': false consciousness

I lost patience with someone the other day.  She was moaning about the Muslim kids' attitudes in her school.  She's sensitive because her husband's in the Canadian military, and he's been 'helping' in Afghanistan.  Students asked:
Why does America hate Muslims?
Why is it ok for Americans  to invade other countries but it's not ok for anyone to fight Americans?
Canada is racist. Why didn't it bring in any Syrian refugees?
Instead of considering these kids might have family who have been killed because of America fucking the place up, and its bitch, Canada, joining in, she's concerned about her own feelings. 
In all my years of teaching and working with students from a variety of backgrounds, I have NEVER heard or witnessed such disgust for the West. It made me horrified, really. And I still don't know what the best response is to any of those questions.
Fuck your cossetted feelings.  Try empathy.  White, born in Canada, unilingual Anglophone...  I had to school her:
I happen to think we should all be disgusted with 'the West': we are hypocrites.  I don't need to be Muslim to see that Arab deaths are counted very cheaply in Washington, and that 'Western' governments not only don't protest, but enable.  You are younger than me so do not know that the Liberal Party of Canada sent no troops to Vietnam, or anywhere in SE Asia, and accepted American draft refugees.  Incidentally, Joe Clark's Conservatives accepted tens of thousands of civilian refugees from Vietnam.  Quite a different legacy than ours in the Middle East.  There were other choices to make.  The questions show students who are intellectually engaged with current events, even if their ideas are raw and unnuanced.  If I were a hot-blooded youth and anyone I knew had been harmed?  I can't imagine feeling less angry than I am now.  I would acknowledge their anger, and try to direct it to something effective, legal and non-violent.  The anger needs a positive outlet: better that than another option, for their own good.
The most shocking thing was that she entertained my ideas.  I didn't bother to tell her that her husband has blood on his hand, even if not at first hand.  Don't think she'll ever be that open minded.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Buying a tramp yacht... someday.

Toronto sucks, but Georgian Bay doesn't, and it's just hours away.  The main body of it is 200km long, and 80km wide, there are no tides of course, you can not only swim in it but drink it, you are never far from shelter, and most of it is little spoilt.  Oh, you can get to all the other Great Lakes too, if you have the cruising time or haul out your boat.  So I am writing up my plan for getting a boat onto it in a few years, and sailing all of it, and maybe Superior too.  Huron also, but Georgian Bay is the prettier part of that lake.

So, I'm trying to rope in a friend to share the costs.  You see, the season's only four months long in Ontario, so it's a bit much to pay full freight for such a short period. He and I are both teachers, so have the time to enjoy it, and we met rock-climbing, so are relatively rugged.  We both also prefer the Bruce Penninsula side of the bay to the Parry Sound side, mainly because it is less overrun with tourons and nouveaux riches.  My father shared a boat and stayed friends with his boat partner, and my father was an asshole.  My friend and I have trad-climbed together, so have already trusted each other with our lives.  My kids are young yet, and my wife'll kill me if I do this before we get a house, but in a few years it'll be my plaything in July while she's with the kids in Japan.  I am not a cottage person, and none on a decent lake are under a million near to Toronto anymore, and those lakes are full of stinkpots (motor boats).  Sailing, with the time off a teacher has, I am on one of the best sailing lakes in the world.

Sailing's not cheap, but not as expensive as people think, if you're smart.  First, you never buy new, because more than a few years used is a fraction the price of new, and boats don't fall apart like cars do.  Second, you buy as small as is safe on the lake and you find livable, because price doubles every 5' on the waterline. You can rent a boat, if you have the local sailing licence, but I've estimated each half of annual cost is $2500 (all CAD): just a little more than the weekly cost of chartering a boat on Georgian Bay the same size, $2200.  Even in the first year, if each of us sails it three weeks, the thing is paid for.  Sure, the boat's not as new, but that's not worth thousands.

Makes me wonder why I didn't live in a boat before marriage: $10000 investment and $500/month costs: and I get to sail my home.  Then I remember that I lived in Toronto and Montréal where the season's short, the winter's cold, and the sailing's mundane.  If I'd lived in Vancouver...

This is based on a 25' or 27' boat, like a C&C 27.  I'd want a few additions:
- one or two folding bikes in stowage
- bug and rain cover for the hatch and companionway
- bimini with bug mesh for sleeping/living outside
- 120v outlet for using electronics when hooked to shore power

If this is interesting, the details I sent to my friend follow the pictures.

I suggest we buy one on a round-numbered birthday year: your sixtieth and my fiftieth should be the same summer, and my kids will be old enough to take on a boat in life-jackets.  Summer previous to that or earlier, we take the Humber Sailing School course for something over $1000, and maybe even join the club for similar to get some experience on Ontario.  We'd have an agreement on the boat year to year and simply sell off the boat and reconcile the balances if one party wants out, or make an agreement on buying the other party out.

I'm thinking a used 25' or 27' sloop out of Owen Sound.  My father had a Tanzer 22 in Port Credit, but a boat a touch larger is going to be roomier and much safer feeling on Georgian Bay.  Ideally with a flushing head; showers and such are an unneeded luxury, but if wife insists I'll pay to have one in (she can shower at the Marina).  Owen Sound has a bus connection, which saves renting a car for us or for guests.  Further up the Bruce doesn't really work.  Fuck the Parry Sound side: busy, full of stinkpots (motor) and the traffic always sucks.

We'd split all unavoidable costs down the middle, but any personal upgrades we'd negotiate on a per item basis: if one doesn't feel it's needed, the other pays for all of it or chooses to forgo it.  That'd likely be me for spare sails, or a shower.  We'd write up an agreement and sign off on it.

Been looking online and costs come to about:
- boat and minor customization/repairs in first year, $8000-12000

Annually: $5000
- dockage, $2200
- on sight winter storage, $800
- repairs, $1500
- gasoline, $500, but we'd keep a log of engine use to share that most fairly
- insurance and sundries: $1000
Excess balance we can roll over year to year for major upgrades, upgrading the boat, or sharing back if we end the agreement or at the end of season.

So, that's a $7500/each hit in the first year, and $2500 each year after that.

- we aim to put in equal labour, especially in May before launch
- in case of accident the party in charge of the boat at the time eats any insurance deductible
- if accident is at the dock it is split
- a basic log is kept of miles sailed, and miles under power, so that costs can be fairly split (i.e. gasoline)
- water and fuel tanks are always kept 2/3 full or better
- waste tank not left more than 2/3 full (and try to use the marina)
- cabin, head, sails, etc. are left in 'ship-shape'
- when 'ship-shape' is not possible (a rush to catch a bus), a bottle of wine or similar is given in informal compensation
- other parties may take the helm under an owner's supervision and responsibility only
- Ontario boating rules will be followed

- we'll have a document for tracking this
- when sailing together it is shared scheduling
- if one party books longer periods of over a week, the other party gets priority on number of times, or similar balancing
- keep each other informed of last minute openings or taking unclaimed availability

I'd want it maybe three weeks in July, when my family is in Japan, but you'd not only be welcome but wanted to share the sailing.  I'd also like another week in August for my family to join.  I doubt I could convince wife to go for more anyway.  That leaves you the other half of July/August.  June and September we'd split weekends.  If you are retired you'd have full access to June and September weekdays.

Saturday 12 July 2014

"Altogether elsewhere, vast herds of reindeer..."

The Fall of Rome

W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973
(for Cyril Connolly)
The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar’s double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Grey on grey on grey... recursive landscape of Japan.

Is it just a Shitamachi thing, or do all Japanese not put on their headlights in the rain?  Come to think of it, they don't even on the toll freeways, and certainly not in the shitty little neighbourhood streets.  Even at night many turn them off at intersections to 'not bother' the people on the other side, which would be great if everyone remembered to turn them back on.

Sure, Japanese drivers pay more attention, not so much because they care more, or worry about the legal penalties, but there's nowhere you can drive a dozen meters in this land without hitting something, if you aren't paying attention.  However, nobody thinks for themselves.

Sure, they have those convex mirrors at all their fucking blind corners with houses up to the property line, but a few weeks of road soot or a few minutes of rain and they aren't much help.  Of course, if drivers or cyclists had their fucking lights on in rain I'd get fewer scares, wouldn't I?

Or, if all of the cars weren't in bland colours, against bland concrete background, against a leaden sky (the few times you get a glimpse of one in a Japanese warren) my paleolithic brain could pick up the predator; however, 'this is Japan'.

Friday 4 July 2014

My officer! What a loud whistle.

But you won't get me to stop on a yellow and end up under the car behind me.  And you won't get me to stop, look back after the intersection, because I heard a whistle, but wouldn't be certain it was police (apart from the fact you had the intersection completely screwed up).  Nor will you get me to stop at your partner eight short Japanese blocks ahead, because who says that was the way I'd planned to go...  Besides, with a month to go in Japan, I don't feel like this new experience, learning new vocabulary; as you illegally ride the sidewalks with the rest of the 'droids I am not up for a lecture from you, and don't need a souvenir ticket.

Everybody knows you tools do not know the laws, and wouldn't respect them if you did, and are the same kind of thugs as our police abroad.  Difference here is none of you shoot.  Yeah, like I'm going to stop.