Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saving Fares with Stops - 下車すれば電車賃節約


I travel from Zushi to Okubo every weekend for chorus training, and the train fare over 2,000 Yen back and forth is not cheap. The other day, I had to get off at Yokohama on my way and found the total fare was eventually cheaper. This same approach might be applicable for those visiting Kamakura from Tokyo area to save some coins by a stop at Yokohama. Well, if I take Tokyu Line between Yokohama and Shibuya, I know its even cheaper but I am a bit lazy to constantly use this route.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

川乗山 - Mt. Kawanori


My legs suffer from mussle ache today because I climbed Mt. Kawanori yesterday. The weather was perfect but the recent typhoon No. 15 damaged the trails here and there, and we reconsidered our route and eventually took the route in the middle instead of the originally intended right route. Still, it had a detour and we somehow lost the course and climbed the middle of nowhere for a while. I think I did much bette than a yeaar ago when I went to Mt. Sobatsubuyama.
Mt. Kawanori is one of very popular mountains near Tokyo because you can have 360- degree view from the summit. Also, Mt. Fuji can be seen close and clear from here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

George Harrison -リヴィング・イン・ザ・マテリアル・ワールド

Have you seen this movie? It’s being shown here for the limited period of two weeks. I thought of going (2500 Yen admission), but realized that the Blu-ray was going to be released in December, so I rather wait and watch it on my home screen.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Genius Within – グレン・グールド


After nine in the evening last evening, I saw the movie “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould”, a documentary film gathering various archival pieces some of which I had seen elsewhere. Several close friends were featured in this film being interviewed to tell the life of Glenn, and they seemed all precious documentation for understanding the subtle details of how Glenn lived his life. As I had just finished reading the book “A Romance on Three Legs”, it helped me to better understand the stories because there were overlaps of topics in them.
The most impressive in the film was regarding “detachment” in playing piano that an old lady explained who took Guerrero’s lessons with Glenn, and she played a phrase of Bach with clear articulations that was almost like Glenn, and then the scene transferred seamlessly to the performance of Glenn’s himself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

グレン・グールドのピアノ – Romance on Three Legs



This was the story of a piano rather than the pianist, namely Steinway CD-318 that Glenn Gould obsessively loved. Many people show up on the stage around the instrument. For example, Capter 2 was about a tuner, Verne Edquist who will be later close to Glenn. For Gould to be Gould in full, such elements as the rarely precious instrument and staff had to be there behind him, and this concept repeats throughout the book like a motif in music.
Glenn once recorded Handel’s sonatas playing harpsichord, and it was because CD-318 was seriously damaged by mishandling during its shipment from Cleveland to Toronto and eventually stayed in Steinway for repair for a year. Steinway’s business stance is another topic in the book, and Glenn’s requests being often outrageous, Steinway tended not to deal with them attentively, and consequently their relation got tense. Glenn in the end gave up searching equivalent alternative to CD-318 among other Steinway pianos and decided to buy a Yamaha concert grand that he used in his final recording of Goldberg Variations. Then how did CD-318 end up afterward?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Olympus Melts Down – オリンパスのメルトダウン


I was curious to see what would pop out of Olympus as I had read the articles of FACTA magazine Aug and Oct issues that reported something burning behind the M&A's by this top brand corporate. And its outcome was just outrageous. At best they will be kicked out of stock listing, or the worst will be the dissolution like the case of Snow Brand.

TIME that reported details of former CEO Woodford’s dismissal concludes as follows in the most recent article regarding the scandal:
“But the Olympus scandal shows that local boardrooms can still be secretive, deceitful and perhaps even criminal. Those, alas, are still Japan's rules of capitalism. “

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn Colors - 紅葉散歩


As I watched the mountains in Kusatsu, I was a bit worried about the colors of the leaves that were mostly yellow and brown this year possibly because of the extraordinary climate to cause them wither before deepening their colors. Still, I found a few spots that took my breath away, and I show you three pictures here: Nature promenade of Tekunomori forrest, Water Lily's Pond near Hotel Village, and finally Karuizawa where red leaves were gorgeous, specifically Oga Avenue in this case.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

秋の嬬恋パノラマライン - Tsumagoi Panorama Line








距離 54.3km
走行時間 4時間8分
 草津→パノラマライン 30分
 →パノラマライン頂上付近 30分
 →大笹交差点 25分
 →鬼押しハイウェイ交差点 30分
 →峰の茶屋 70分
 →中軽井沢 45分
 →軽井沢駅 15分
平均速度 13.1km/h

For novice bike runner like myself, tours across mountain that exceed 50km in distance is a challenge but tempting at the same time, and this Panorama Line from Kusatus to Karuizawa seemed ideal because it contains very long downhill rides. I thought it should be manageable, but considering it consists of three uphill sections that amount 700m altitude gain in total, a careful preparation process is essential, so I did things like 4x uphill training of Shonan Village to gain >500m and 400m uphill run from Kusatsu to Shirane Ropeway Station in advance. This course is a sort of “petitfondo” in the best fall season.

Tsumagoi Panorama Line is ideal for cycling because the automobile traffic is scarce. The first uphill is some 160m in altitude gain, and a great view spreads in front once you start to descend.

The second long uphill section is from Osasa crossing on Route 144 up to the point where the road meets with Onioshi Highway. It will take about 30 minutes to go over this 6km distance and 200m altitude.
Kita-Karuizawa resort area looked almost deserted despite the weekend and the roads were not well maintained.

Finishing the third uphill section of about 300m to Minenochaya, the highlight of the course is the long and gorgeous downhill to Naka-Karuizawa. It is the same excitement as the downhill of mountain skiing, and as we descend into Karuizawa area the autumn leaves get so beautiful which is the bonus of this tour.

Run Data:
Distance 54.3km
Time 4h 8m
Kusatsu→Panorama Line 30mins
→Panorama Line summit 30mins
→Osasa Crossing 25mins
→Onioshi Highway Crossing 30mins
→Minenochaya 70mins
→Naka-Karuizawa 45mins
→Karuizawa Station 15mins
Average Velocity 13.1km/h