It’s March, so it’s getting warmer. January and February are my least favourite months here. Everyone complains about the summer, but the summer doesn’t make my hands bleed. Spring is my favourite – not too hot, not too cold; a wonderful variety of seasonable food; cherry blossom; the last of the good winter light. It’s perfect (except for 99% of the population getting hay fever like it’s going out of style).
I’ve been taking advantage of the pick up in temperature and running more. I love running. The last two years I’ve managed to damage my foot badly enough to put an end to it, but I’m hoping this year works out a little better. I went out for my first run of the year just after I got back to Japan after Christmas and I’m back up to 5k now. My short term aim is to hang out there, running half an hour every 2 or 3 days, maybe pushing it a little further at the weekend. Running clears my head. I always listen to a podcast and just enjoy being out. Someone told me recently they hate running and feel it’s torture, like it will never end. I told them I love it for the same reason. Although torture might be a little strong. I love running because when, a couple of minutes short of my target, I feel like giving up, I know I can make it if I just push myself a little further. As in running as in life. Try and push a little further.
There’ve been a few other changes since the turn of the year. I started this blog around a week ago and that’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed writing something that didn’t go directly onto a whiteboard or into my lesson plans notebook. I’ve also been trying to read more books. I wanted to read more books by Japanese authors this year, to better understand the country I live in. I finished Shusaku Endo’s Silence in no time in January and loved it, but since then I’ve only read a book on teaching English pronunciation. I’ve got a copy of Kazuo Ishiguru’s (moved to the UK when he was 5, hadn’t yet returned to Japan at the time he wrote the book, maybe I’m cheating) An Artist of the Floating World sitting in my bag. I’ll finish it sooner or later. I try and use my time on the train (around 45 minutes total every day) as effectively as possible meaning I always want to do too much and often end up playing Hearthstone on my phone. The train is where I read books (for fun or for work), read photography blogs, play Hearthstone, take photos, talk to the friends I work with and live near, study Japanese, and check the football news. I convince myself the train is this magical window of time when I can get a lot done. In the end I don’t have time for 90% of those things. Still, I never feel like I’ve wasted those 45 minutes even when I do just play with digital cards. Sometimes I just want the downtime.
The biggest thing that’s happened this year is my friend Jasmine finally leaving the country. She’s been threatening to do it for so long everyone kind of forgot she was serious. It’s a downside of living abroad that most people who do eventually move on somewhere else. It’s a bummer when people leave. When they’re as big a character as Jasmine is, the silence is echoing. I’ll miss her being my only friend with a bunch of disposable cameras taking photos of all our friends. She took the nicest picture of Yuka and me. We were playing a kids game in Inokashira Park. Yuka looks like she’s praying, with this massive smile on her face; I look like I’m trying and failing to make a shadow puppet. It’s a pretty accurate snapshot:
Tokyo, March 2017.