New Year, New Me. A mantra for the changing of the year as people far and wide spend the month of January making and breaking New Year’s resolutions created in order to improve one’s self or one’s life. Last year Tokyo Weekender suggested six New Year’s resolutions to make if you live in Japan. We thought you could use five more for 2020.
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Get Involved with Your Local Tokyo Community
From local events, festivals to various meetups and exchanges there is an abundance of activities in your local community. Although getting involved in the local community can seem a little intimidating, especially if your Japanese isn’t the best, it’s the best way to really get a feel for what Japan has to offer.
But how does one get involved in the local community? Some routes are easy, frequent local bars, restaurants and local cafés in order to build a rapport, which will lead to invites to festivals and events. A much quicker route would be to check the local notice board and see if there are any events or groups you’d be interested in joining, however this may require some Japanese. But what better way to improve on your own Japanese ability and make some new friends than to dive headfirst into some local culture?
Looking to give back? Learn about the TELL Tokyo Tower Climb.
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Visit New Areas of Japan
Everyone has a favorite area in Japan, and whether it be the bustling city streets of Tokyo or the tranquil countryside streets of Kyushu when it comes to our comfort zones, it’s pretty difficult to leave. With 47 prefectures most are spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring Japan, but as it can be difficult to leave our favorite cities most never get to see all that Japan has to offer. From Japan’s smallest island of Shikoku to the mountains of Hokkaido travelling around Japan has never been easier or more affordable, so what better time to escape your comfort zone and broaden your horizons than in 2020. Each prefecture is vastly different from the next making each one a separate adventure within itself, go out and find your own Japan.
Check out our guide to 7 places to visit in Japan in 2020.
Try new dishes
Feared by most, tried by some Natto and other Japanese dishes like it are often avoided by foreigners living in Japan, its unknown flavors often bewilder and confuse those who see them. However, these foods are not to be feared, and what was once a strange dish can quite quickly become a favorite. I myself had a dish I had come to fear – TakoWas.a or raw octopus mixed with wasabi. Sounds horrid, and quite frankly it looks like something created in a child’s play kitchen, but the spicy dish makes the perfect izakaya snack and quickly became this writer’s go-to bar food.
Although trying new foods can be a little intimidating, take small steps on your own terms to broaden your taste horizon. There was once a game I used to play back when the only two things I ever ate at sushi was salmon and tuna – the Kaiten-Sushi game. The rules are simple, when one ends up at a sushi establishment, during your meal order one thing off the menu that you’ve never tried before. You may end up eating a few things you don’t like, but think of the opportunities created when you find a new food you really enjoy.
Be sure to try these 5 local delicacies from all corners of Japan.
Learn How to Make Your Own Bento
The simple bento, the lunchbox in Japan, has gone beyond simple and blasted into an entirely different solar system. With character bentos, insanely difficult and intricately made bentos and a whole industry centered around the teaching of bento-making to homemakers, it’s no wonder the average 9-5 single worker is intimidated to make his own.
Fear not, for the world of bento isn’t difficult at all, and just like attending the gym or starting a new hobby we all start from 0. The recent bento boom has actually made it easier than ever to find online tutorials, Instagram step-by-step guides and an insane number of books and guides at your local bookstore about the practices and process of crafting your very own bento. Make 2020 the year you flex those culinary muscles and create something special in the kitchen.
Join an English-language Japanese cooking class with help from our guide.
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Learn more Japanese
Studying more Japanese is a resolution held by most living in Japan, but the mountain of learning Japanese can be pretty terrifying for a lot of newbies. For those lacking the motivation it would help to remember that learning Japanese can enrich your living experience in Japan exponentially. Not only does better Japanese mean more opportunities to make friends, a higher level of Japanese can open so many doors in one’s professional life.
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics gets ever closer the need for Japanese and English speakers will only continue to grow meaning those with the motivation and aptitude to study Japanese will reap all the rewards later on.
For those with the drive to study, Tokyo Weekender has created a resource guide to get you on the path to perfect Japanese.
Feature photo by Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com