Long journeys

As you may know, I’m a fan of epic fantasy.  In those stories, the characters usually go on a long journey.  The journey is a highlight of the book.  I also like real life journeys.

Two years ago, I made my first long distance walk.  I walked from my home in Kamakura to Jogashima, in Miura City, which is at the end of the Miura Peninsula in southeast Kanagawa.  This was a challenge for myself, after reading one man’s own journey.  The walking fool, a New Zealander who used to live in Japan, walked the Tokaido Road back in 2009. His walk was nearly a month.  Mine was only on one day.  I walked 35 km in 8 1/2 hours.  Last year, I walked from Kamakura to the town of Oiso, which was about a 21 km walk.  It was only 5 hours.  These walks were very interesting, and I enjoyed them very much.  I was hoping to walk again a couple months ago, but was too busy.  My wife and I have done some 10 km walks in the past few months, though.

Walking isn’t the only way to make a journey.  Cycling is another good way.  In Japan, crazyguyonabike did a Honshu tour.  But there’s a really big one that came to my attention through Freshly Pressed on WordPress.  Cycling 4 Cancer is in the early part of a cycling trip through Europe, Asia and Australia.  I’m extremely interested in seeing the photos and experiences from this journey.

Have you ever done anything like this?


Wow! Moment: The summit of Mt. Fuji

During my first summer in Japan, I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Fuji. Most foreigners in Japan seem to want to try that. I was quite interested in it.

So, on July 31st, 2005, I and 4 other teachers left Shinjuku in Tokyo on a bus to the 5th stage of Mt. Fuji. It’s halfway up the mountain and the highest point that vehicles can travel.

We started our climb at 10pm and planned to arrive at the summit in time to see the sunrise. It was dark, so we needed lights. There was a line of lights all the way to the top, hundreds of other climbers. While it was dark, the thing that amazed me was the night view. Not only could we see city lights, but the sky was very clear and thousands of stars were visible. My first “Wow” moment was when I saw the Milky Way very clearly. I’d never seen it before. Absolutely beautiful!

By the time we reached the top, the sun was rising. That’s my second “Wow” moment. It was amazing to see from the top of Japan. At the top, we rested, at ramen, looked at the crater, and finally headed down. What amazed me then was how red the mountain was. “Wow” number three was for how it looked like pictures from Mars.

We arrived back at the 5th stage around 10 am, feeling very sore, tired and hungry.

And you know what? I really want to climb it again.

Why I like reading science fiction

I guess you can say I’m a geek.  I’ve always liked anything to do with science, as well as science fiction.  I was and still am a Star Trek fan.  Science fiction allows us to see what could be.  Like fantasy, we can experience a new world and a new way of life.  Sci-fi is rooted more in reality, and is often based on science, real or not.

I think sci-fi is kind of romantic, especially stories related to space travel.  My university degree is in physics and astronomy, so space is a big interest of mine.

Due to the fact that I am educated as a scientist, I like to see some realism in sci-fi, so hard sci-fi is always great to read.  But I also like space opera, which is more focused on the story, and not so concerned with the realism of the science.

As I stated before, I like to explore new worlds.  I like to find out about alien planets, human colonies, and more.  It allows the imagination to be free to picture those worlds.  I also enjoy imagining the advanced technology, the spaceships, the space stations, and so on.

It seems that my two favourite genres deal with something that is beyond current reality.  Fantasy and science fiction are similar that way.  It’s great for the imagination!

Wow! Moment: Killer whales

Have you ever tried fishing on the ocean?  I’ve done it many times with my grandfather and dad.  My grandparents lived on Vancouver Island, and we often went fishing for salmon whenever we visited them.  Sometimes we caught plenty of fish, while other times, we caught nothing.  One time, we went back after catching only some seaweed.  Most of the time, we spent our time just watching our fishing rods bouncing as we went over the waves, as well as watching the sonar to see if there were any fish down there.  If we were close to the shore, we sometimes saw seals.  But there was one very special time.

It was just like any other time that we went fishing.  We weren’t catching many fish, but it was fairly relaxing.  I don’t recall how old I was, but probably when I was in junior high school.  The weather was calm and the waves were small.  I remember that I was looking north when we saw the fin.  And then another and another and another.  They weren’t just to the north, they were to the south as well.  And east.  And west!  They were all around us!  It was a pod of resident killer whales.  They were swimming to the southwest, closer to shore.  They were probably following some salmon, which is also what we were looking for.  The moment we realised that we were surrounded by a pod of killer whales, I had to say “Wow!”  That was a remarkable experience.

Why I like reading fantasy

Everyone has their favourite genres.  Some like everything, while others stick only to one or two genres.  I don’t like everything.  I read mostly only a few genres, but I am open to others.  With this series of posts, I will explain why I like certain genres.  This time is fantasy.

My exposure to fantasy started with The Hobbit in junior high school.  It was required reading in grade 8, and I enjoyed it immensely.  That got me hooked on fantasy.  Fantasy gave me what other genres couldn’t (with the exception of science fiction), a new world to explore.  I’ve always been interested in geography and other countries, and fantasy gave me a taste of what it would like if we could create an entire new world and new cultures.  Whenever I’ve looked at fantasy books in a bookstore, I’ve always looked at the map.  That’s also how my love for writing fantasy started.  I started with the map.  It gave me a world to fill with countries, cultures, landscapes and endless possibilities for stories.

Fantasy allows the author to be very creative.  Anything can happen.  With magic, gods, strange creatures, demons, and unique cultures, a rich and adventurous story could be written with many surprises.  While many fantasy stories try to mimic the types of people from classic epic fantasy, introduced by J.R.R. Tolkien, some go a different way and make a completely new world with new races and monsters.  Imagination rules in fantasy.

I love being taken away to another world through fantasy.  It gives me a way to get away on a brief vacation from reality.  It’s good entertainment.

Wow! Moment: The dog

Everyone has those moments when you suddenly say or think “Wow!” Sometimes it’s obviously amazing, while other times, it can appear quite mundane.  With this post, I’m starting a little “Wow!” moment series to talk about some of my moments.

The first is quite ordinary, and maybe some people may think it’s boring.  But this happened while I was watching the Westminster Dog Show, which is the biggest dog show in North America.  I like dogs, and I always enjoyed watching dog shows.  When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the differences between the various breeds, and dog shows were one way to see them all.  I had books about the breeds, as well.  I read them several times, I’m pretty sure.

I was watching the dog show on TV with my mom, as we often did every year, and the Sporting Group was having its turn.  They were to choose the winner of this group, so it could move on to the final group to determine Best in Show.  As the dogs were parading around, we saw this one dog that made us say “Wow” at the same time.  That doesn’t happen often.  What we saw was a Weimaraner, a gun dog that was developed in Germany and is known for its distinctive mouse-grey colour.  This particular Weimaraner was beautiful.  It was elegant.  It was athletic.  It ran with so much poise that we were in awe.  That’s never happened to me before.  I was impressed by a dog that was simply running.  Unfortunately, it didn’t win the group, but it was one of the top choices in the Sporting Group.


Battlestar Galactica buffet

A few days ago, I asked my wife about the Hulu service that she subscribes to, as I was curious about what TV series were available.  After a few minutes of browsing through the titles, I realised how much there was to see.  In fact, there were many series that I wanted to watch.  So, I asked if I could watch it on my computer, and she said I could.  Now, a few days later, I have watched the first 7 episodes of the classic Battlestar Galactica.

All 3 Battlestar Galactica series are available on Hulu Japan.  I’m starting with the original series, which only ran for one season.  I’d watched a lot of it before, but I couldn’t remember much about it.  I’m finding that I’m watching 1 or 2 episodes a night, and should finish the first 1978 series within a couple of weeks.  Then it’ll be on to the shorter 1980 series, and finally the much longer and more recent reboot of the Galactica universe.

My history with this series hasn’t been very extensive.  I watched some of the original and 1980 series on Space channel in Canada, and found it interesting.  But I didn’t see all of it.  I watched a few episodes of the new series in 2004 when it debuted, but as I came to Japan in 2005, I wasn’t committed to it.  But thanks to Hulu Japan, I can watch it all!  It’s a veritable BSG buffet!

After the three Battlestar Galactica series, I plan to watch Doctor Who and rewatch the entire original Star Trek and Enterprise series.  There are several movies I’d like to watch, as well.  The original TRON is at the top of my list.  I’m enjoying legally watching streaming videos of TV series and movies on the internet!

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.