Summer 1996

Hello faithful readers. This summer's edition marks a new leap into cyberspace for The Diederich Journal. Yes, we are now on the Internet. But there are many other exciting things to report in this issue. Exciting, that is, to me.

Noriko and I are gearing up for a two-week visit to Seattle this September. We'll be meeting my parents, and of course will visit my sister Amy who lives there.

Mom, Dad, Noriko and I will stay at a cozy little bed & breakfast, rent a car and basically do whatever we please. A day trip to Portland is also on the agenda.

Speaking of fun, my baby sister, Jill (that's her with her new friend Mr. Samurai), came to Japan for a two-week visit last May. Nori and I took her to historic Nikko and various other points of interest in and around Tokyo. My sister, however, was mainly concerned--as crazy as it may sound--with shopping for clothes. It seems that her petite frame is difficult, if not downright impossible, to find clothing that fits just right in the United States.

Jill's other primary concern was finding anything related to Lotus, the famed British automobile. It seems her doctor-boyfriend drives one and also collects miniatures of the cars.

We must have visited every hobby shop in Tokyo. It seems the cars are hard to find in the States, as they are made in England and cost big bucks--the models, that is. The real cars are also expensive. Jill must have spent half of her time here looking for those toy cars.

Like most newcomers to Japan, Jill was unpleasantly surprised at the prices of everything under the rising sun.

Some examples:

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

In other news, my left knee is nearly healed. It still gives me trouble, but I can fully extend it and no longer rely on a brace or crutches. In another six months it will be as healthy as my right knee, which suffered a similar injury six years ago playing basketball with some Phi Kappa Tau brothers at Steve Duffett's parent's house in Cleveland.

You'll remember from the spring issue that I chipped a bone and ripped one of the ligaments in my left knee while skiing in Niigata; a place, I might add, famed for its delicious sake.

If you ever have the choice between a broken leg and a torn ligament--and I hope you never do--choose the cast. A broken bone can heal in around 6-8 weeks, but the recovery time for even a partially torn ligament is at least six months.

The Rainy Season
The rainy season in Japan runs from late June to the end of July. This period is, of course, rainy, but nothing like the scorching heat that follows. August and September are exceedingly hot, humid months. Luckily, Noriko and I will get two weeks of relief while we're in Seattle.

Cockroaches love the rainy season. It is their breeding time. My company, the Yomiuri Shimbun, seems to be one of their favorite places to start a family. The cockroaches that climb up on the desks frequently sneak into your briefcase; apparently looking to relocate to your house.

Fortunately we do not have--knock on wood--a cockroach problem at our pad--just mosquitoes, like everyone else here.

Mosquitoes also love the rainy season. And fortunately, when given a choice, they prefer to feed on Noriko over me.

And in a shocking development, Frank Arleth, a frat bro from Phi Kappa Tau, paid an unexpected visit to Tokyo on July 1. He is currently on a six-month world tour. I haven't seen him in about seven years. He is a true Wilbury.

This is Frank.

Frank showed up at our doorstep just hours after climbing Japan's famed Mount Fuji. He had been living in Florida since graduation, where he worked as an engineer, and also put in two years down in Honduras designing sewage systems. Sounds like a blast!

He is moving back to his native Spain to be closer to his parents. It will take him six months to get there, however, as Frank decided it was high time he saw the world--all of it. He is traveling with two of his buddies who also decided they needed temporary reprieves from the rat race.

July 24

It is a sweltering summer day. The humidity is at around 90 percent. But, as I told two of my friends here for a visit from the States, the temperatures are usually much higher this time of year.

Wylie Wong and his younger brother, Dan, are in Japan for 3.5 weeks. They are on the last leg of a two-month Asia tour. Their first stop was Hong Kong, and then it was on to China.

I know Wylie from Randy Weston, my former colleague at the Lake County Record-Bee. Lake County is just north of Napa, Calif., and the Record-Bee was the newspaper I worked at before coming to the Yomiuri.

"Hong Kong is what we thought Japan would be, and vice-versa," Wylie said. "Hong Kong is just wall-to-wall people."

The two brothers just want to say that the only two Japanese words they know are, "Hideo Nomo."

Tom, left, Dan, middle, and Wylie.

July 28
Noriko and I took her Mom, Dad, brother Hiroshi and his kids to an onsen (hot spring) resort for some volcanic fun and sun by the sea. We went to the island of Hatsushima off Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture--about 150 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.

We stayed in Ito at the "Hotel Ravie." It was a nice place: there was an excellent hot spring and the food was delicious. If, that is, you love seafood. Raw. The hotel had everything--even its own "song," which appeared on a book of matches. Most of it was in Japanese, but the parts in English read: "Glory, glory...Horizon...Your Smile...Glory...Love Song...Ocean Breeze...Glory."

In other news, well...since no one, with the exception of Carey H.J. Morgan, has written since the last issue, there is no other news.

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