The end of December inevitably brings thoughts of how the past year has gone. We look back on our hopes, achievements and failures. Sometimes we simply reminisce, other times try to draw lessons.
2021 was a year of consolidation. After moving to Japan in 2020, we finally settled in Kobe and started setting down roots. Kobe is where my wife was born, and hopefully where we will spend the rest of our days together.
Image above: Statues of the 47 Ronin at Ako Shrine in Hyogo, Japan.
Language and Covid.
There have been frustrations. My language skills have plateaued, hindered both by the complexity of Japanese and the lingering impact of Covid. Business has been difficult, perhaps more so than I anticipated given the effects of time zones.
A year of exploration.
Aided by a bright green Suzuki Hustler called Henrietta, we’ve started to explore Japan. We’ve had a few restrictions during the “state of emergency” declarations that limited us to Hyogo at various points in the year. There’s been plenty to see, from dams to parks to museums. A lack of overseas tourists made it easier to enjoy the spring Sakura in Kyoto, and the autumn momiji and koyo. That said, I can’t help but feel for the many small businesses suffering a lack of visitors.
Inspired by my surroundings.
My photography has been patchy, partly because I’ve enjoyed where I’ve gone and taken pictures for my amusement rather than stock or commercial reasons. There are a handful of photo projects lurking around, from toy cars to portraiture ideas, and I’ve yet to set up my home studio.
That said, I have been inspired. I’ve written a handful of short stories, and I’ve rediscovered Constructivism. The latter prompted me to restart creating art, some of which has sold as prints to eagle eyed arthounds. I’m also sketching mascot-style characters (keep an eye out for next year). Then there’s my CSS experiments, bringing some of my artwork to life, as well as building a firm foundation for my work.
The “Less Stress” lifestyle.
There have been stresses during the year. I have been a little isolated and introverted, which has added to my stress. Yet the environment we’re in (debt free, surrounded by beautiful mountains a few minutes drive from the city) just lends itself to lower stress. I’ve watched the mountains and valley in front of the house evolve over the year, and there isn’t a week when something hasn’t changed.
Overall it was a “Good Year”.
There were challenges with covid, language and business. These were far outweighed by the inspiration I’ve drawn from my surroundings, and the enjoyment of exploring the country. Overall, 2021 has been a Good Year, and I’m aiming to make 2022 even better.