2016 – It’s getting better

IMG_1416-croppedIn Japan, there is this concept called honne and tatemae (本音 and 建前), where you keep your true thoughts to yourself (honne), and project yourself in a more pleasant manner (tatemae). This concept is pretty hard to grasp for a Canadian, where we tend to wallow in our in our (real or imagined) misery. Living in Japan, this is one of the hardest things to get used to. Even simple the simple everyday complaining that I do can be interpreted as a huge grievance.

If I am to live in Japan, even part time, I think it is a must to adjust to honne and tatemae. This is my new year’s resolution that I vaguely made mention of last time. Anyways, here are some notes.

2015 – the good

2015 was a tough year for me. Needless to say, I am happy for it to be over. There are a number of things that were good, and I will try to focus on that.

Went to Svalbard


Undoubtedly, this is something I will always remember. Svalbard may very well be the furthest north I ever go. I went there in April 2015, and saw many amazing things. I went inside of a glacier (see above), something that is not advised to do in most places. Because of the cold-based nature of the Longyear Glacier just outside of Longyearbyen, it was safe to go inside. The crown prince of Norway went in just a few hours after we did! We also got to see an abandoned Russian coal mining town, the sea ice breaking up and reindeer! Perhaps the biggest highly for me was to see the midnight sun. I was there the first day the sun did not set in Svalbard.

Conferencing in Germany

Brandenburg Gate

In May, I went to a conference in Potsdam. I have to say, it was a beautiful place to have a conference, I absolutely loved it. I made a side trip to Berlin, and got to see many places I had read about from my interest in history, in particular the Berlin Wall. After the conference, I went to Hanover to visit my good friend Matthew, which was one of the best highlights of the year.

Good times in Sweden

Swedish cuisine – pickled fish

I am thankful for all the friends that I met in Sweden, and for being there when times were tough. We had a lot of great times exploring Stockholm and finding the best places to go for beer! I also had a great time with Nick, Alex, Helen and Phoebe at Midsummer weekend, despite the heavy rains! My friend Matthew also came to visit, and saw some of the nice areas of the King’s Garden.

PHD: Finished

Celebration Shochu

After waiting in anxiety for over half a year in 2014, I got my reviewer comments just before I headed off for Christmas. It took several months of slogging, including total rewrites of what became two new chapters of my thesis, but last May, it was finally done. I graduated with my PHD last July!

Japan trips

Dressed as the legendary samurai, Saigo

I went to Japan three times in 2015, to see the love of my life. I went for a week in March, visiting areas in eastern Kumamoto. In July, we went to Miyakojima in southern Okinawa, and I managed to fit in the INQUA conference in Nagoya. I’ve been back since the beginning of November. Highlights include going to Sugiland on Yakushima (home of ancient sugi trees), meeting family members and going to Kyoto. I also enjoyed showing my friends Luna and Przem what it is like at a ryokan! I love Japan, I definitely recommend coming out!

2016 – What is next

2016 is here, and it is full of uncertainty. I hope to have a new job, but details are still sparse. At any rate, here are some things I hope will be make this year a positive one.

  • Going to a ryokan this month!
  • Heading to Canada in February. I get to see my family for the first time in over a year and a half!
  • Trying to get to the point where I can have a conversation with a stranger in Japanese. I’m breaking out Anki!
  • Spending time working on my hobby, my Super NES website, SNES Central, something that I have neglected during the past few years.
  • Seeing the sakura blossoming in Japan
  • Publish at least three papers
  • Trying to look at the bright side every once and a while!