With 2017 drawing to a close, I thought it useful to look back and decide what made this year special. Therefore, in reverse order:
10. Going to see a Juju concert in Yokohama
In July, I decided to surprise Soji with tickets to a Juju concert. We had been to a concert of hers before, and I remember how much he had enjoyed it. This time around, I also really enjoyed it and ended up walking away with a CD. If you must know, my favorite song that night was 「駅」.
9. Snowshoeing and whisky tasting
At the start of January, Soji and I went on a snowshoeing trip with our friends Emma and Mai. Unfortunately, our dog Sashimi decided she didn’t want to be in the snow for more than five minutes, and so our actual snowshoeing time was rather short. The hotpot and dinner that night though were lots of fun, and on our way back from Nagano we stopped at the Hakushu whisky distillery for a tour. Though serving as the designated driver prevented me from sampling anything there, the bottles that I brought back with me ignited a newfound love of the drink.
8. Skiing at Manza Onsen
Since I have started living in Japan, all of my winter trips to the mountains have been for snowboarding. And without fail, nearly all of them resulted in me hurting myself in one way or another. This year I decided to try skiing, and surprisingly, escaped injury free. Whether or not I become proficient in future years is open to debate, but at least I know that I can enjoy one winter sport injury free.
7. Redesigning our garden
Our garden was in a sad state. Ever since we moved in, we had talked about wanting to do something. Our own efforts resulted in a mishmash of colors and styles. Last year, walking around the neighborhood, I discovered the shop of an amazing landscape designer. In June, we decided to give him free reign to do as he liked, and we were very impressed with the results. Now the challenge is to maintain it…
6. Traveling to Kyoto
During the Golden Week holiday we traveled down to Kyoto to see Soji’s mom. This year, friends Meme-chan and Lily-chan joined us and we rocked the town in vintage kimono. On the last night, we also had dinner at one of our favorite Kyoto restaurants, Nanzen Giro-Giro—a good choice, since we decided to host our family rehearsal dinner at their Honolulu shop.
5. Getting to know Soji’s family more
This was a big year for getting to know Soji’s family. In January we had a dinner with Soji’s brother, wife, and niece. We met them again in June, and in July I could finally meet Soji’s grandmother. The meeting went off flawlessly, especially once she saw that I wasn’t some hulking, tattooed marine from the base. At our wedding, I could meet his aunts and uncle, who quickly became the life of the party and contributed greatly to a successful rehearsal dinner. I have to say that being accepted by his family this year has been one of the joys of my life, something that I continually tell myself.
4. Having a book published
While I have been doing proofreading and ghostwriting for some time, I was thrilled when my friend and coworker Yosuke asked me to help write a textbook. The book was published in September, and I just learned that it will soon be translated into Chinese. Since I’m still doing promotion for the book, if the mood strikes you, feel free to order it on Amazon.
3. Traveling to Thailand
Instead of a present, Soji and I decided to go to Thailand for my birthday this year. We took six days in early November and traveled to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, everyone asked us if we were in town for the festival. We hadn’t heard of any festival, but upon further inquiry, learned that we had arrived just in time for the world famous sky lantern festival. During this festival, people launch candle-powered hot air balloons into the sky. It was an absolutely magical moment. Plus, I also got to ride on an elephant.
2. Shonan Wedding Party
I debated whether to put this as number one. Though this was the reception to our Hawaii wedding, it was pure magic. The weather was perfect, everyone was in the best of spirits, and Soji and I were relaxed and less tense than in Hawaii. Our wedding planner pulled off a perfect white party and beach reception, and we were thrilled with the outcome.
1. Hawaii Wedding
Private beach wedding in Hawaii, under a clear blue sky. All our friends and family there to congratulate us. Live hula dancers and ukulele players. Fresh organic food and a whole roast pig. What better way to celebrate our first 10 years and to reconfirm that we want to spend a lifetime together? It was a magical moment and more than one could possibly ask for.
To all those who made this year possible, THANK YOU. I look forward spending more time with you and to all that 2018 has to offer.