Spending the Holidays in Japan

Christmas and New Year’s resolutions

My family isn’t particularly religious. To us Christmas doesn’t celebrate a birth, nor does it rhyme with receiving nice gifts. It’s a day when my whole family gets together. If anything, it only made me conscious of the passing time, and my cousins growing up too fast. It’s hard to spend this time of year away in a country I don’t know very well yet, but I am grateful for those who brought me cheer and joy, and the others who flew across the globe to see me.

This dessert with an unpronounceable name was delicious!

Christmas in Japan is different in many ways. Markets and illuminations spawned across the city, turning it into a magical place. I spent an afternoon at my first German Christmas market, where I ate some great food. I tried hot wine, only to further confirm that yep, I’m not the biggest fan of wine. It was a sunny day, hot enough that parents and kids were taking off their winter coats. Is it really December?

On the 24th I traveled across Tokyo and beyond to wait for my best friend at the airport. I spent six hours on the train that day. Seeing her reaction to the confusion that is the train system in Tokyo was priceless. Since then, we’ve visited different neighborhoods, popular sightseeing spots, and shopping. We spent an afternoon at an onsen theme park, and a little more than two hours in Burger King talking a little too loud.

While Christmas in Japan is a holiday that celebrates love — couples like friendships — , New Year’s has a little more weight. Many return to their hometowns and spend this time with their family. Stationary stores and bookshops have shelves stocked with cards and other celebratory items. On the 31st, people will visit shrines and temples to wish for good health and success in the next year.

Despite planning to count the seconds to 2018 among the crowd in Shibuya, I couldn’t find the energy to stay up late and made my way home around 10:30. How did I spent my last day of the year? Eating delicious food, shopping and having nice conversations. To me, it’s more than sufficient.


I’ve been reading articles and blog posts, watching YouTube videos on New Year’s resolutions. I developed my own little set of things to work towards, and I want to share them with you. Not only to hold myself accountable, but so that maybe you’ll be inspired to walk into the new year with motivation and enthusiasm.

Aileen from Lavendaire posted this video on her channel that resonated with me. She explains how she attributes a theme to tie her resolutions together. I’ve decided that I want to focus on growth in 2018, personal and professional growth.

Personal

  • I have found a workout that works for me, and that has brought me really amazing results. In 2018, I want to keep practicing yoga daily, even if it’s only a 15-minute routine. To improve my cardio, I would love to hike this summer. Japan has beautiful nature scenes that could serve as motivation.
  • I started documenting my trip to Japan in September, and made writing somewhat of a weekly habit. I want to continue to write more regularly. I recently started journaling, and it really has helped me structure my thoughts. I also would like to write some fiction pieces, which I used to do a little bit a few years ago. While I love writing informative articles, I write best when creating something that resonates with the hearts of others.
  • To help improve my writing, I’ve decided to read one book every month. I’ve curated a few for the first four months of 2018 that I can’t wait to read:
All I Loved, by Siri Hustvedt
milk and honey, by Rupi Kaur
Ficcionnes, Jorge Luis Borges
Coeur de Slush, Sarah-Maude Beauschene

Professional

  • As some may already know, I am an aspiring translator. My goal is to translate Japanese novels into English or French. But for now, I have to learn the language pass the level of an elementary school student. As a personal goal, I am going to attempt to pass N2 — the second highest level of fluency — in December of 2018.
  • In the meantime, I’ve started doing some small translating jobs on the side. While they don’t pay much, they allow me to start developing techniques and build myself a toolbox.
  • I doubt I can start translating novels right away. So to start and built experience, I think it would be interesting to work in the video game industry. To do that, I’ve started learning code. There a couple of coding languages that are required, varying from one company to another. It’s not easy — it’s actually quite difficult — but in this day and age it can only be useful to know. A few Japanese companies are based in Tokyo, and I’ll be sending a few emails in hopes to get some kind of internship this month.

I don’t like setting numbers where I don’t need to set any. I work well when I have a flexible plan, allowing me to adjust my methods when they are not working anymore. But everybody is different!

If you have any book recommendations or New Year’s resolutions of your own, share them in the comments!

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