Mount Okuhotaka

About to head out to the mountains in Nagano again, this time we’re doing Mount Okuhotaka (pictured, Mount Hotaka, from the Wikipedia page). It’s the third highest peak in Japan, at 3190m. It’s our last chance to stay in mountain huts, as they close for the winter. It’s going to be cold, of that I’m sure, but hopefully we’ll be ready (been stocking up on Uniqlo stuff, which is affordable and on a technical level, much better than year’s past). And yes, I’m expecting snow, and we’ve even bought some spikes for for our hiking shoes.

Instabike Tokyo

I’m very happy to announce a new little project of mine called Instabike Tokyo. It all started last week when I discovered a site that Amsterdam-based illustratorLaszlito Kovacs had launched called Instabike. The idea was a simple one, and can be explained with this mathematical equation: Amsterdam + Bikes + Instagram = Victory! I loved the idea — and I need to thank my main man in Amsterdam, Luis Mendo, for turning me on to this — and immediately thought that it would be great to do the same thing in Tokyo, and a few days later, and with the blessing of Laszlito, Instabike Tokyo was born.

I will say that my version is a bit different in that my plan is to cover Tokyo cycling culture in general — one of the ideas behind the original Instabike site is to capture shots of cyclists from behind. The density of cycling in Tokyo would make this a hard thing to do.

Laszlito has now put up an Instabike hub page — and I’m assuming he’d be open to other cities joining in. For Instabike Tokyo, on top of the Tumblr site, you can follow the project through Twitter, and there’s a Facebook page as well.

Kickstarter Campaign for Letter to Jane

Let me point you to a new post on The Magaziner that helps explain why you should go and support this Kickstarter campaign to help finance a fourth issue ofLetter to Jane on iPad. Tim’s a friend of mine, and he’s been doing some amazing work in terms of editorial publishing on iPad — first with his independent magazine called Letter to Jane, and then by collaborating on the third issue of Port magazine. I really want to see this fourth issue happen, so please consider chipping in a few shekels — and for $200, he’ll even give you the source code.

The Magaziner Is Reviewing Again

I have this other little site called The Magaziner where I obsess over magazines. For the past few months I took a break from writing up any new reviews (sticking mostly to news items and covering the occasional new releases), but I’ve found a way to make the review process a bit easier (by adopting a template, based on something my friend Andrew Losowsky had been developing for a site that never launched). The first one up is for what I’d say is my favorite iPad magazine, SPIN Play.

Gym Class Magazine No. 8

And while I’m talking about magazines, let me also recommend you pick up the new issue of Gym Class Magazine (No. 8), which not only includes a piece by yours truly, but is basically a dream team issue with contributions by a bevvy of magazine freaks (and I of course use that last word in the most positive of sense). You’ll find it in physical shops, but the easiest way to get your hands on it is to order it online from the GCM Shop. Big thanks to Steven for letting me be a part of this issue.

PauseTalk Vol. 54

I know I’m terribly late with this, but here’s a partial list of those who attended this past month’s PauseTalkVol. 54 (those who signed up the attendance sheet). It was an interesting evening, with the talk this time often revolving around game development and design, since we had a few developers as part of the group. I posted the link the other day, but again, here’s a fun gallery of photos taken by Michael Holmes. The next PauseTalk (Vol. 55) is set for November 7.

Biking City

As of a couple of weeks ago I’ve started spending more time at the Klein Dytham architecture office in Ebisu, and that’s given me an excuse to do a lot of biking again. That’s still my bike pictured above, a Bianchi BD-1, that I bought from Craig Mod close to 3 years ago. At first I told myself I’d maybe go to the office by bike on one day a week, but so far I’ve been doing it more often, and rather looking forward to the ride.

From my home in Ikebukuro to the KDa office takes me about 40 minutes, with a distance of around 10km — even though it’s a very easy ride, since I’m pretty much just on Meiji street from start to finish, things always slow down around Shinjuku, when I start hitting all those traffic lights. I had a blast last night when I left the office after a meeting with Ian Lynam and Mark McFarlane, as we all biked together until Shibuya before separating, side-by-side on one lane (traffic was light).

And yes, this does mean that I’m out and about more, being based in Ebisu (and often with a bike), and can be easily bribed by coffee or drinks if you want to meet up with me.

Mount Takanosu

It was back to the mountains yesterday, but this time closer to home as we went to the Okutama area to climb Mount Takanosu. It still always amazes me that all of this terrific terrain is within the boundaries of Tokyo. It was a tough day though, as the hike up was quite the workout and took us much longer than planned, and then coming down we ended up doing the last hour and a half in the dark (we did have lights). Pictured above, what greets you at the top (at an altitude of just under 1800m).

From Ikebukuro we took the train up to Okutama station (by way of the Yamanote and Chuo lines), and then it was a 15-20 minute bus ride to the start of the trail.

The village where we got off the bus.

Here’s the sign that marks the start of the trail, as well as a few others alerting you of things to watch out for — the one with the helicopter says that water will be dropped in case of forest fires.

My wife, ahead of me.

A map that shows the Okutama area, with all the trails you can take.