IKIMASHO!

From Tokyo with Love: June 2021

As I sit in my living room on this hot and balmy Friday night, the only sound is that of the air-con unit obediently pumping a steady stream of cold air into the apartment. Summer is in full swing here, with real-feel temperatures of 38 degrees becoming the daily norm. Unlike many, I live for these months – being able to just wear shorts and a tank top and soak up the sun. My wife certainly hates it, though, and can usually be spotted cowering under a sun umbrella or taking a nap on the couch.

I realise that it is already nearing the end of July, yet here I am only getting round to writing about June. Life has been extremely busy the past month – work in particular throwing a few curveballs with COVID issues, as well as myself needing a precautionary COVID test (thankfully negative). Because of all this, we didn’t get about as much as usual, but were still able to enjoy the pockets of free time we did have.

Apart from Mrs IKIMASHO running in the Olympic Torch Relay (more about that below) I guess the biggest event of note in June was me turning 40. I’m still coming to terms with this ‘celebration’, and wondering how the hell the last ten years have seemingly come and gone in the blink of an eye. My thirties really were amazing – I saw so much of the world and did a lot. And while I realise the planet (and myself) are a bit different from what they were ten years ago, I’m still determined to make the most of my forties and keep loving life. IKIMASHO of course means ‘Let’s go!’ in Japanese, and so that’s as good a mantra to live by as any. After all, you don’t get anywhere in life standing still.

Turning 40 has given me a chance to reflect… perhaps a little too much? But I think it has been good for me to really think about what is important to me in in life. I feel my life/work balance is a bit off right now and I would like to address that next year if possible. Mrs IKIMASHO went the extra mile, getting all my friends and family in Northern Ireland and Japan to send me a video message for my birthday. I think the final video came in at 30 minutes and meant a lot. But it also made me realise that it’ll soon be three years since my last visit back to Ireland, the pandemic making travel so tricky right now. I’m sure anyone who has chosen to live on the other side of the world from where they grew up can relate to this fact.

Back in June, Mrs IKIMASHO had the opportunity to travel to the north of Japan to run in the Olympic Torch Relay. The Tohoku region was devastated by the 2011 tsunami and so it was a humbling experience for her to run through the area – cheered on by her parents who also live and volunteer there, helping people affected by the earthquake. Mrs. IKIMASHO says, “I had the opportunity to be a torchbearer at the Torch Relay in the Tohoku region. In the months leading up to the actual day, I kept having mixed feelings about whether I should even be participating especially with all that’s been going on with the pandemic and the general vibe regarding the Olympic Games.”

“The town I ran in was heavily hit by the tsunami in 2011 and my initial hope was to run to bring some form of encouragement to the people there. In the end, it was the people’s smiles and supporting me that made the experience even more poignant and meaningful. This doesn’t take away from the fact that many lives were lost from the disaster or the pandemic, but I hope that in some way, shape, or form, we can continue to spread love and kindness to people around us, whatever race, cultural background, or who they choose to love.”

I hope all of you around the world are keeping well, and thanks for always following.

Justin / IKIMASHO




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