This is in front of Kyoto Station on the first day of 2020 before any of the fears about how things might turn out had settled in. Many of gathered around the trees and watched the murmuration.
This video of a local bukser playing the chapman stick was taken on the bridge near Sanjo Station in Kyoto.
I was able to enjoy a trip to Seoul only weeks before the pandemic broke out. This dance/video art performance I saw at Dongdaemun Park was among my favourite parts of the trip
A friend of mine won a raffle to see a jazz concert in Kyoto and invited me to go and watch! They moved between so many instruments during the set; I couldn't believe the versatility!
The schools had closed for the kids and we teachers began needing to find things to busy ourselves with. As we prepared for graduation that March, we began constructing a huge poster made out of stickers stuck to several excel sheets stuck together. There were hours of this.
Some other English teachers and a few Japanese friends of ours all got together to do a soba making workshop!
This was the set up for one sound art performance I went and saw in Kyoto at a venue called Soto (外).
As cherry blossom season started, my friend Sophia and I began taking regular bike rides around the city after work.
There are a few popular places in Takashima for viewing cherry blossoms, but Sophia and I stumbled upon one particularly quiet and beautiful spot on one of our bike rides.
Koi-streamers for Children's day by children.
My home in Japan was right next to the country's largest lake, Lake Biwa. It is the third oldest lake in the world, and fisherman can be spotted around it at literally any hour and all hours.
A piano performance from one of the performance venues I frequented the most while living in Japan called Urban Guild.
The gazebo in the garden outside of the Kyocera Museum in Kyoto.
Could not believe my eyes when I saw this man with his meerkat out on the streets of Kyoto!
Summer hasn't really begun in Japan until you've played with hanabi! After a late night of dining with some friends, we went to a convenience store and bought these firecrackers to light up at Demachiyanagi, along the Kamo River.
One of the beautiful garden homes at Uji just outside Kyoto City.
My neighbours discovered an abandoned sparrow on one of their morning walks with an injured foot, so they brought it back home to try and nurse back to health. They ran a fish shop, so the baby bird was able to dine on the finest sashimi. We called it Pii-chan.
Easily my favourite neighbourhood in Osaka, Nakazaki-cho. It is filled with small galleries and cafes.
The view of the Seto Inland Sea coming out from beneath a shrine at one of the installation art pieces by photographer Sugimoto Hiroshi on Naoshima.
An old factory repurposed into a museum inspired by one of my favourite writers, Mishima Yukio, and his life and thought on Inujima.
Hatsumi and I having a satsuei battle.
Riding the night ferry over to Yakushima this summer ended up being a great choice for a number of reasons, one of which was seeing the sea-fireflies off the bough of the boat!
The view from the end of our first hike in Yakushima.
Hata is a small rice cultivating neighbourhood in the town that I lived in, a little ways out of the center and into the mountains.
Hata's stacked rice fields were unbelievably beautiful. It is one of the sights that I miss most from Takashima.
Some children escaping the heat and playing in the Kamo River together.
My last sports day! There were a number of obstacles this year because of cancelled classes and COVID, but the kids were able to put on amazing festival!
An aquarium visit with a friend in Osaka.
There isn't an animal I love more than otters, and so with an otter cafe so close by in Kyoto, I definitely splurged and treated myself to a visit once or twice...
This was one installation piece at the Biwako Biennale in Omi-Hachiman. We were encouraged to go and sit on the sand, listen to the voices, and read a message in a bottle left by people who intended to join us in Japan for the art festival but couldn't make it.
Sunset over the canals in Omi-Hachiman after a day filled with hopping between exhibitions.
Before heading back to Canada, I went to say goodbye to some friends in Tokyo and enjoy my last two weeks in the city. This older gentlemen was sketching the view of this beautiful garden in the Bunkyo District.
My last train ride in Japan on my way to the airport to come back to Canada.
Somewhere between Japan and Canada.
Day two back in Canada after being away for two years was Halloween! Look at how cute my niece and nephew are! 🥺
Morning walks with Jetta. And never without bathing herself in whatever is on the ground that morning. In this case, fresh snow!
An afternoon hike with my brother's girlfriend, her friend, and Jetta up through a mountain trail not far from their home. Mid-December, but the green is still trying to peak through!
The view outside my grandparents' home. My grandmother passed away this autumn a week before I was able to come home and say goodbye, but you still feel her presence and her voice and her smile at her home at the lake.
This is a Memory Quilt I made for the Sunday Sites Café on December 20th of 2020 reflecting on the positive aspects of 2020. This was the year that I had to say goodbye to Japan after living there for four and a half years. I said goodbye to many good friends, some of whom have become like family, as well as cities and towns that I have made a home in over the years, along with all the dear places you hold fast when a place becomes home. The year was, as it was with everyone else, a complicated one, but 2020 will still be a year I look back on fondly for many reasons. Here are a few of them. (Apologies as the videos may be slow to play!)