2020 was a year of challenges and changes. It was a test of one’s character and perseverance. For me, it taught me to step back and reflect; to encourage patience when faced with the unknown (at work and at home), and to build new habits to reduce anxiety and stress. From all of this, I learned to change my worldview and to accept that there are things that one cannot control. Thus, one has to make the best of their situation. I developed new habits, such as gardening with my mother and listening to the news every night.
In 2020, I have read 37 books (e-books and paperbacks), studied Chinese on Duolingo regularly, and participated in 2 art challenges (Mosstober October 15th to 31st and Art in the Time of Corona). While I did not do much writing, I helped my father complete our family tree and discovered a few famous ancestors. As for career development, I attended virtually ASCP Annual in November and completed other continuing education courses on a regular basis.
This year I plan to continue building on the same habits and perhaps work on a writing project. It helped that I use Habitica, a productivity app that helps one keep motivated to complete goals by “gamify[ing] [one’s] life.”
Since the pandemic and recent turmoil took over everyone’s lives, it has been challenging to stay positive. To bring a little happiness to everyone, I have been drawing their favorite characters from popular media as time allows.
Guano Point, Grand Canyon (West Rim), Arizona (2013)
2019 was a very trying year from learning how to manage difficult people and situations at work to balancing obligations with a professional association to minor health problems. I have made 3 trips: New York, Toronto, and Guangdong province in China and Hong Kong. I, unfortunately, only completed 10 books. The rest of time was spent reading material for continuing education credits. I tried to implement more self-care, such as monthly massages and facials. The results were half-successful. Creativity-wise, I published an essay in the Legacies anthology, completed the Japan travel journals, and transferred my photos to Google Photos.
Towards the end of 2019, things seemed to be looking up at work with new changes taking place despite the injury I got from work. In addition, I minimized my digital accounts and apps in effort to decrease social media usage and smartphone dependence. Thus far, it has helped reduced unnecessary stress and constant connectivity. Hopefully, things will continue positively as 2020 starts off.
My resolutions for 2020:
Exercise 3-4 times weekly (running, walking, hiking).
Vibrant, youthful, and trendy are some of the words that describe the Harajuku district of Tokyo. We spent some time wandering and taking photos of Takeshita Street before our 4PM reservation at the Owl Village and Cafe. The street was packed with young people, who were enjoying themselves after school or work. The street was crammed with shops and little cafes, selling crepes and other sweet treats.
As it neared 4PM, we headed to the Owl Village and Cafe, located in a nondescript apartment looking building. We had to take an elevator up to the fourth floor, where we were welcomed into the cafe. The cafe has a tatami mat area and a mini bar, where you are allowed to enjoy your soft drink that comes with your reservation (in 2017, it was about 1500 yen per person for 1 hour). The courteous staff member checked us in and then gave an orientation of the rules and expectations of the cafe, such as how to pet the owls and how to take a photo without scaring them.
After we finished our soft drinks, cleaned our hands with hand sanitizer, and slipped on the slippers we were provided, we were allowed in the special room where the owls were resting. One of the participants had paid an additional fee to feed the owls and fed the owl a delicious treat (as shown below).
Located west of Osaka is Himeji (姫路), the second largest city in the Hyogo Prefecture of the Kansai region of Japan. If one takes the Shinkansen, it is only a short trip away (less than an hour) from Osaka. We chose to visit Himeji for its magnificent Himeji Castle. Stark white and imposing in appearance, the castle befits its other name: White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo).
Another view of Himeji Castle
Just past the Otemon Gate, we walked into an enclosed area called the Sannomaru. Here one can get a picturesque view of the castle with cherry trees in the foreground. During cherry blossom season in early April, many visitors would flock to admire the beautiful castle among the flowering pink of the blossoms. Continue reading →
About 15-20 minutes westward of Osaka, if one takes the shinkansen, is the classical city, Kyoto. Popularized by the stories of geisha and samurai, this city served as the capital of Japan from 794 (Nara period) to 1868 (beginning of Meiji period). Many temples and shrines still stand today and are important relics of Japan’s history.
We spent a day in Kyoto, so we had to pick and choose where we wanted to visit. Upon arriving at Kyoto Station, one can see the modern Kyoto Tower in the distance, rising at 131 meters tall. On a clear day, one can see Osaka from the observation platform in the distance.
Kyoto Railway Museum
From Kyoto Station, we walked west about 20 minutes to the Kyoto Railway Museum, a must-see for any train enthusiast. Opened in April 2016 by JR West, the museum is considered one of Japan’s best railway museums.
The museum showcases various types of trains from the steam locomotives to the electric trains to the shinkansen (bullet trains). One can follow the walkways underneath some of the trains to see the internal structure of the trains. There are also exhibits of the railway uniforms and tools as well as interactive exhibits, in which one can pretend to be a train conductor or try the train simulator. In addition to the museum, there is a roundhouse with turntables from 1914 that houses some steam locomotives.
After spending a couple of hours here, we exited the museum to grab lunch at a nearby café.
Once we had our fill, we took a taxi to Kinkakuji, as the subway system in Kyoto was not very convenient.Continue reading →
My writing piece has been submitted! Help support the Kickstarter for the Legacies: Antholozine! It will be launching at noon EST/9 AM PST on Sunday March 3rd! There are 100+ pages of art and writing from fellow Asian American creators. Don’t miss it! Continue reading →