Happy New Year, Everyone!
If you have a social media account, I’m sure you opened your newsfeed on New Year’s Day to be greeted by a multitude of posts screaming “Good Riddance 2020!” and other such messages. And yet, here we are, just a few days into the new year and things are predictably pretty much the same regarding COVID. I even know some people who have already written “2021 sucks!” – and while things are far from ideal, I don’t think it’s good for anyone’s mental health to be stuck in that mindset.
I realise that I had it a bit easier than many in 2020. Japan didn’t officially lock down, and I had freedom of movement within the country. Being a bit of an introvert also helped me – I don’t go out to bars and clubs anymore, and I like staying in my house! As I write this, Japan is currently preparing to announce its second official State of Emergency (the last one being April 2020). The difference this time, is that it looks like the schools will stay open – something that, as a teacher, makes me a little anxious.
Looking back on 2020
I like doing a bit of a roundup at the start of each year to look back on the one that has just passed.
In 2020, we made domestic trips within Japan to:
Brands I worked with:
I was also very lucky in June, when Mrs IKIMASHO surprised me with lunch at NARISAWA for my birthday (2 Michelin stars)
The IKIMASHO website
On the IKIMASHO website, I wrote 26 blog posts. I am happy to have finally worked out a solid format after all these years, with posts generally following one of three templates:
- ‘From Tokyo with Love’ – a monthly round-up from Tokyo for each month of the year
- ‘Postcards from…’ – a blog post when we travel somewhere new (domestic & international)
- ‘IKIMASHO Luxury Stays’ / ‘Fine Dining in Tokyo’ – collaboration posts with luxury travel brands
The IKIMASHO Facebook page
2020 was the year when the IKIMASHO Facebook page started to take off. It is now the main portal for my content, and something I enjoy maintaining: interacting with my followers, meeting new ones, and building up a strong audience. The page now reaches half a million people per month, which is kind of crazy to think about!
I feel I have pinned down my style in terms of aesthetic, and it makes me happy when people say they instantly recognise an IKIMASHO photo, before even reading the name. Thank you all for your comments, likes and support this year. I do try my best to acknowledge and respond to each and every comment/message.
With the state of the world at the minute, I know better than to set any goals that are unachievable. Saying that, I always do like having a few things to work towards, and so these are merely guidelines for myself more than anything.
- Apply for Permanent Residency in Japan – While I am already stable with ongoing 3-5 year visas, having PR would mean I never have to worry about a visa ever again, and could come and go from Japan without any restrictions (similar to what is like travelling to and from my native country). It takes a year to process, and most people who get it have had a long association with Japan (10+ years).
- Revisit Fukuoka & Nagasaki – I lived in Fukuoka for a year straight out of uni when I was 22, and while I’ve been back a few times since, Mrs IKIMASHO has never been so I’d like to take her down and have a walk about. And since we’d be in Kyushu anyway, kill two birds with one stone and visit Nagasaki. (We actually had this trip planned/booked for during Christmas 2020 but felt it safer to cancel.)
- Beach Time – More than likely, domestic. Okinawa? Or if COVID still prevents that, I am still happy to know I have a nice enough beach near me. I still think a summer international trip is pretty unlikely, but who knows.
- Make it through the year! – I understand that this year will probably be a difficult at times, with COVID continuing to influence the way we work and play. I’ll try and be as flexible as I can, and be kind to myself.
I will of course also be monitoring the situation throughout the year to see if a visit to Northern Ireland is possible!
2021 is here. I look forward to spending another year with you all – let’s enjoy the quieter side of Tokyo together! Stay safe and healthy. Justin / IKIMASHO x