Monday, 24 March 2014

Well, here we are, a mere 3 years and 6 months after my last meaningful post! I am somewhat at a loss to try and recap everything that's happened over the intervening period. Suffice to say there have been many highs - Y's marriage and our family trip to Hawaii probably stands out as the biggest and best; the Tohoku Dai Shinsai in March 2011 was one of the worst. It's true to say there have been many difficult times; not only disasters and economic travails, but also some big domestic and health problems as well. I don't want to dwell on the negative but I think it's true to say I have experienced some pretty miserable periods over the last few years. But, hey, I'm still here and still more-or-less happy with life here in the Land of the Rising Sun.

So what of the now? Well it's been an interesting 18 months or so. Late 2012 I began to experience some real health issues. I was really starting to feel dreadfully tired and my cholesterol levels had shot through the roof. Earlier that year, I'd made the mistake of going to a Japanese dentist for a routine filling (NEVER go to a Japanese dentist - they are all idiots!). He botched it so badly that I ended up in total agony for nearly 3 weeks and with a full-blown systemic infection that required a serious course of antibiotics and a trip back to the UK to finally get on top of. The whole experience left me clinically depressed and at a pretty low ebb. Upon returning to Japan, I had some blood tests done for thyroid function (depression and high cholesterol are both symptoms of hypothyroidism), and low and behold there did seem to be a problem. I started on treatment, but I have never felt comfortable with the idea of long-term medication so I decided to try and find another way to sort myself out. It turns out, that this was the best course of action.

In a nutshell, I had become fixated on the negative aspects of my life. Somewhere along the line I had lost sight of the fact that I am fortunate enough to be living in one of the most fascinating places on Earth, and for the most part I was comfortable and not facing any major health barriers. I decided that I needed to start making the most of this opportunity that been placed in my hands. So, I started doing stuff: exercising in the park every morning, going on walking trips to the mountains, getting back to Iaido which I had shamefully let slip, and even returning to Aikido training. The net result has been a big improvement in health, both physically and mentally, and a much brighter outlook.

I say all this by way of an introduction to some of the topics I intend to be writing about a lot more from now on. In particular, I have re-discovered my love of the outdoors and especially hiking in the mountains. Everyone thinks of Japan, and especially Tokyo, as a hyper-modern environment. And of course it is. But it's also much closer to wilderness areas than you might suppose. Less than an hour by train, I can be in thickly forested valleys or clambering over peaks with incredible views of distant mountain ranges, including the iconic Mt Fuji, of course. True, when the weather's good you do have to share the view with about 6 billion other people on the more popular routes. But even in the peak periods, it's still possible to find solitude off the beaten track.

So - without further ado, welcome back to my world.

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