The last 3 years, the year that I have been actively traveling, have absolutely flown by and I’ve started having trouble remembering what happened, when. Luckily, I have this blog and a ridiculous number of neatly organized pictures to keep my thoughts in chronological order.
When I moved to Tokyo toward the end of 2009, I told myself that I would use the 10 months of my contract to not only explore Tokyo, but Japan as well. At the end of 2010, I found that I’d spent more time going abroad than I had exploring Japan like I said I would. I vowed to do better in 2011. 2011 brought its own challenges, with the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and I was yet again unable to fulfill this declaration. Then came my third chance in 2012. In 2012, I’ve finally been able to go to some places in Japan that I’d never been to before. Looking at this list that I’ve compiled using my archives page and my photo archive, I finally have a year where I spent more time exploring Japan than I did escaping its unbearably cold winters and terrifyingly molten hot summers. It’s a miracle!
Just in case you need proof:
I rang in the new year with relatives in Shimonoseki, a small city located in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Western Japan. After this, I made my way up to the Kansai area, where I stayed in a hostel all on my own, and even made some awesome new friends while reuniting with old ones! I also had a green tea parfait.
Also… My first book was published!
I was fortunate enough again this year to be able to go to Cheltenham, England, for business for 3 weeks with 20 students.
One of my friends and ex-co-workers from the US came to Japan on business. I not only got to show her around to my favorite haunts in Tokyo, I was able to go to Nikko with her, a place that I’d heard so much about, but had not yet seen myself.
As the last full month of my contract and final month of work at the women’s college that had employed me for 3 years (I did not recontract this time), I spent every possible opportunity with my students. I’m pretty sure we made scones and cookies twice, just as an excuse to get together and eat yummy treats.
I also went to Yamanashi and gave paragliding a try!
yeah… it’s way harder than it looks. The taking off part, and not running yourself into trees part.
August - November
My contract ended in the middle of August and I headed straight to Okinawa, where I spent a week in a hostel I like in Naha. After coming back from attempting to soak in some sun, I boarded a ship that would be my home for the next 85 days. I was on board as a volunteer interpreter and translator so there was always plenty to do, even on days when we were at sea.Through this, I conquered my fear of not only speaking, but interpreting in front of a big group of people. (Big being >1,000)
I’ve just started recounting these tales, so stay tuned to my RTW via boat!
In Yokohama, I got off the boat once, only to get back on again to help out during open ship (when the general public is invited on board to see what it looks like). This took me down to Hakata, making some stops on the way. I then made my way back to Tokyo via land, where I met up with as many people as I could, before saying my farewells and…
… flew across the Pacific, arriving in Seattle, where I slept for a little under a week before flying across the U.S., arriving in NYC, where I am spending the holidays.
Currently unemployed with no set plans, this year has started to look pretty rough, but making this list has really reminded me of how many amazing opportunities have come my way, all the amazing places that I’ve seen and people that I’ve met. I was truly blessed during 2012 and am now even more motivated to make sure that 2013 measures up- and is even better.
To all those who are reading this- thank you so much for following my journeys. I am so thankful that I have such an amazing group of people with whom I can share these tales. Writing this blog keeps me motivated to keep my eyes and heart open to cherish even the smallest of moments and I definitely can’t thank you enough for the encouragement you send me via email, twitter, facebook and comments.
No matter how you’re ringing in the new year, be safe, have fun, and I’ll see you on the interwebs in 2013!