This year has gone by way too quickly, and here I am at the end of 2016 wondering why I didn’t do enough of this and that. But hey, you really can only move forward in this thing called life, so we just have to keep moving on and stuff right?!

But before I move on to 2017, let’s take a step back and have a peek at the year 2016…

Revisiting 2016 resolutions

So the question I would ask myself at the end of the year is, of course, how did I fare? Did I manage to do what I set out to do 12 months ago? Which resolutions should I rollover (because this is obviously a thing right?) for the next year? Let’s have a look at my 2016 resolutions in a gist, shall we?

  1. Speak fluent (conversational) Japanese. To be honest, I have been beating myself up on this, and still am. I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I hoped to be when I first moved to Japan at the end of February. I am nowhere near conversational, to be honest. Yes, I can understand certain conversations and I can order food, but that’s about it. Very very disappointed, and I have only myself to blame. But this is definitely going to be rollover-ed.
  2. Exercise. Walk. Move. Do something. Guess what guys!? The thing that has been in my rollover list since bygone years, I think I have finally achieved it (at least I’m happy where I am now, I know it’s not much still). Thanks to Japan, I have been walking to places more, because that’s just how everyone does it here plus public transport tends to get expensive. I remember returning to Melbourne in June and realising that I could walk to places that I would’ve gotten on a tram in the past (yeah one stop, free city tram, awesome). And more importantly, thanks to Pokemon Go, I have been fast-walking (to the point of running/mini-sprints) trying to catch rare Pokemons in its early days. Now, I still would walk a fair bit for my weekend gym runs. That has to count for something, right?!
  3. Read 6 books. This is something that I enjoy doing, and yet this year I don’t think I completed this. I could blame moving to Japan and not wanting to buy more books here… But really, even the few books that I brought with me, I have yet to finish them. Rollover time… or more like, this is one I’d like to achieve each year.
  4. Celebrate the little (and big) things. Well, I guess it’s still hard to celebrate the anniversaries and what-nots. But, I have definitely enjoyed the celebrations that Japan has to offer, when it comes to spring’s cherry blossom or summer’s festivals and fireworks or autumn’s colourful leaves or winter in Hokkaido. Here’s to more!
  5. Start projects. This, surprisingly, is a success story for me. I started my Instagram account late last year to start documenting all the fun Japan things that I’ve taken photos of… This year, whilst in Japan, I have grown it from about 300+ followers to recently reaching 1000 followers. It’s not much, but I’m still working hard on it! And of course, I started a YouTube channel which is definitely out of my comfort zone (I hate seeing myself on video and hearing my own voice), but it was just one of those things that I thought I should challenge myself to do, while in Japan. It took me a while, but yes…

So all in all, I was really surprised when I checked this year’s resolutions to see how far I’ve failed only to realise that I’ve done alright (haha yes, 2 out of 5 is considered alright for me)… How did you fare? Comment below, would love to know how you achieved your goals in 2016!

Rewinding the year from my perspective

What a year it has been! I’ve talked about moving to Japan in my early days and then again after 6 months of living here, so I will not repeat those thoughts. But looking back, this has been the most unique and exciting year of my life… one that I will definitely be referring to in many years to come. To sum up what I meant by that: I. Freaking. Love. Living. In. Japan.

Some of my most memorable moments this year:

  • Spending time with friends in Melbourne, and appreciating every moment knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing them for a while. And then some of them followed us to Japan for a short getaway and a long farewell!
  • Moving to Japan. 100% best highlight! That feeling of excitement when we landed, knowing that this’d be home for a while.
  • Finding a place to move in to. Moving in and buying “furnitures” (¥100 stores are awesome) and furnishing the place.
  • Meeting new friends. Hanging out in the lounge area for random talks, card games, arm wrestling, TV sesh.
  • Checking out Tokyo with different people, old friends visiting and new ones exploring together.
  • Going back to Melbourne and hanging out with my crew. When you can hang out with them every week, it might not be a “highlight of the year” but when you only had 2 weeks to do so, it became very very memorable indeed.
  • Playing Pokemon Go, hunting dem Drats & Magis around parks, standing for hours with 100s of others in Shibuya. Not sure if it’s a highlight, but it really is such a huge part of 2016 that I think I have to put it here! Ha.
  • Visiting my sister in the UK and playing with my niece. She’s the cutest thing ever, and I want to hug her every time I see her photo/video… if only we’re closer. I’m not even biased guys, seriously cute.
  • Spending 5.5 hours with my sis in the Warner Bros Studio Tour for the best Harry Potter movie tour experience ever.
  • Going on trips with the hubby. We did a 3-day thing during his summer break and then a 1-week thing this winter. And another short trip for NYE/NY, yay!

Remembering the good bits of pop culture

Pop-culture wise, this year I’ve been listening to more Japanese music, mostly soundtracks. I’ve also been watching more anime and J-dorama in an attempt to immerse myself more (any excuse to watch more Japanese dramas is good for me). And I have been so out of touch with English music and movies (well, I don’t watch a lot of movies anyway). But I’m still going to do this chart thing:

Favourite song: Everglow by Coldplay. Why? Because I listened to it for 12 hours on my trip back from London to Tokyo.

Favourite drama: Game of Thrones season 6. This was truly amazing, the reveal and the deaths and the surprises. Plus watching it with the housemates made my Monday nights fun too! This is something to look forward to in 2017.

Favourite J-dorama: Love That Makes You Cry (いつかこの恋を思い出してきっと泣いてしまう). Its simplicity was just beautiful. I don’t usually like mellow, but this was a good mellow. Great cast, great love story, and great soundtrack. A close second will be the current drama I’m watching: We Married As A Job (逃げるは恥だが役に立つ). I know that I probably was ooh-aah-ing the summer Getsu9 drama with 3 cute boys, but yeah, that was just for the ikemen factor.

Favourite movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Okay, I don’t watch movies much at all. So when the hubby wanted to watch a movie in a Japanese cinema, I suggested this, because Harry Potter! And yes, it was so magical. When the Warner Bros logo appeared and the Hedwig’s Theme started playing at the start of the movie, I was fangirling all over again. Now I will make it a point to re-read the whole HP books in 2017, because… research.

Favourite place: Harajuku. I knew I would love Harajuku, but I didn’t know that I’d love it so much to visit it almost weekly still. Yep, Harajuku is the place to go in Tokyo, gaiiiz.

I wanted to do a “Favourite food” chart, but that’d be too difficult. But then again, I can probably tell you what I’ve had most often! (1) Chun Shui Tang, a Taiwanese restaurant tucked away in Omotesando with the best tapioca milk tea, but also great beef noodles, and (2) Tendon, cheap tempura located all over Tokyo… just talking about it right now made me want my tempura over a bowl of rice with a side of udon noodles.

Oh and, if there is one stand-out for me, out of all the food I’ve eaten in Tokyo this year, it would be Tsuta, the one Michelin star ramen restaurant in Sugamo, Tokyo. Seriously, that truffle smell as you walk into the tiny shop… Amazing. Still the only ramen soup that I slurped until they were completely gone (and still wanted more). If it weren’t the queue, I might go back more often.

Oh and of course, I can try to list my favourite Japanese snacks and ice creams, but the list will be too long. I’ve had some really good seasonal ones, seriously it’s worth it to live in Japan just for the desserts.

I can’t think of anything else right now, so I’ll stop here. All in all, I know that many people claimed that they’re done with 2016 and all – because of all the things that are happening in the world. But let’s just be honest, the world is a horrible place to live in because we are all horrible people. (Ha, the pessimist in me is really showing hey!) Let’s have a look at this particular gem by C.S. Lewis in his sort-of fiction The Screwtape’s Letters where the devil was speaking to his nephew on how to distract humans from the important things in life…

And I’ll leave it there… Thank you 2016. Thanks to every person who has made my 2016 special. Thanks to God, the maker of all things, for His faithfulness and grace. I am still learning. I am still making mistakes. I am still me. But let’s keep going.

That’s it. Time to wipe that board clean and plan for a new year. I can’t wait for more adventures in Japan, but with so many uncertainties (how long will I be in Japan?), I have a feeling next year will have its share of interesting stories and moments.

Tell me about your 2016, go on…