For Kangaeroo, 2019 was a year in which cycling played an influential role.
This was the first year for Kangaeroo to commute daily by bike.
Apart from a week overseas and a couple of weeks recovering from an injury incurred while slipping off the bike, the yearlong commuting mission was accomplished.
It was only fitting, then, that the year ended with a concentration of cycling.
And that’s exactly how it panned out, averaging more than 100 km/day for the nine days from the end of work on December 27 to the end of the year four days later.
These are photos from the Shiraishi Pass in Saitama Prefecture, the Tama River in Tokyo, which is still showing some of the effects of the October typhoon, and trendy Odaiba, an artificial island in central Tokyo.
Mobile phones were starting to become a reality when Kangaeroo left Australia around this time of the year back in 1988, a year when the bicentennial of British colonization was marked.
It was supposed to be a six-week holiday in Japan.
Some 32 years later, that trip effectively hasn’t ended.
Japan was in the news in Australia at the time of departure.
Then Emperor Hirohito was in a critical condition (he would die shortly into the new year).
The Japanese economy was booming and Japan seemed poised to take over leadership of the global business world.
But, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
Like now, the Liberal Democratic Party governed Japan and it was as rotten to the core as it has always been.
Kiichi Miyazawa had just resigned as Finance Minister after being embroiled in the Recruit Scandal, a case that would rock Japanese politics with dozens of politicians greedily accepting bribes for stocks in the then-skyrocketing stock market.
There was no consumption tax, but a 3% levy on all goods and services was due to be implemented from the following April and 1 yen coins were being produced to meet the expect demand the tax would bring for them.
Miyazawa would make a comeback and eventually rose to become prime minister. American reporters loved him because he could speak English and had a fawning affinity for the United States, but he was corrupt and inept. He would be at the helm when the LDP lost government for the first time in its existence in 1993.
Sydney Morning Herald Tokyo Correspondent Peter Hartcher, then a young, almost cub reporter in his first posting as a correspondent, would let Australian readers know of the situation in Japan at the time. Hartcher would go on to an illustrious career as a political commentator.
Lots has changed over the ensuing decades, but not prices, which have remained amazingly stable in that time, rising, but not to an unrecognizable extent as has been the case with Oz.
Mobile phones were non-existent in Japan then. Even car phones, which were not common but hardly rarities in Australia in the late ’80s, were unseen in late Hirohito-era Japan.
No worries about finding a mobile phone for a bit less than $4,000 nowadays, though.
Perhaps not surprisingly in a land ruled by middle-aged and elderly blokes and the fax still a crucial communication tool, mightily impressive dinosaurs have taken over a part of Japan not far from Tokyo.
And despite being equipped with apparently razor-sharp fangs, the dinosaurs in question are actually toothless.
The park is located in Izukogen, a town about 100 km southwest of central Tokyo.
And the dinosaurs are part of an illumination display presented with a Cool Japan Matching Award.
Both the dinosaurs and the illumination display were absolutely fabulous!
In clear weather, it’s also possible to ride a flying fox (zipline) over the illumination display on the park.
Getting to the park takes a couple of hours by train, but highly worthwhile, with plenty more to see in the Izukogen area, a thriving little town gaining wider exposure with the increase in inbound tourism over the past handful of years.