2011 has gone as quietly as it came, yet many of its memories still lingers. It was incontrovertibly one of the most emotionally challenging times of my life, one of unparalleled highs and depressing lows. Yet in spite of it all, 2011 will forever remain with me, perfectly tucked away in the corner of my heart.
The pictures presented below are my favourite images of 2011. They are all important hallmarks of the last year for me.
After once being devastatingly in love, I was just devastated. January and its bitter cold swept over me leaving standing alone- frightened, broken hearted and lost.
Toyama is known for its sometimes inhospitable winters but this was a perfect winter day. As I was biking home from work I remember looking at the snow draped Mt. Tate and thinking, “You sure are beautiful.”
I found it particularly difficult to choose a picture that personified how I felt but I decided on this lone crow.
It embodies the indescribable sadness, deep pain and terrible loss millions of people and I felt after the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan to its core. Thinking about it still hurts. My eyes still shed tears. My heart still yearns to reunite those who have forever lost their loved ones.
March 11, 2o11 is a eternally etched in my soul.
After many sleepless nights in March, my friend, Sheila, and I took a trip to beautiful South Korea. It was a quiet escape from the perils that had been plaguing Japan.
South Korea was one of those countries I knew very little of but fell madly in love with.
I had seen the Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) on “The Amazing Race” and I instantly knew I had to see it one day.
During Golden Week, one of Japan’s most popular holidays, I visited the Umeda Sky Building. To get to the top, you take a glass elevator and when you get to the top, you go even further by using this escalator. It truly feels as if you are floating. It was pure magic.
The view that welcomes you is simply spectacular. This has easily become one of my most favorite places in Japan.
After having a simple lunch in a traditional Japanese restaurant with my English Club in the Tonami region of Toyama, I noticed this beautiful pink rose. It had past its prime but was still beautiful in spite of all its imperfections.
It reminded me of my grandmother, who had died four years earlier, and the many similar pink roses she would cut from her garden and give it to the church every Sunday.
July is my favourite time in Namerikawa. The air is crisp, the sky almost always a perfect blue and it is the season of a million festivals.
Sitting next to the world’s only Hotaruika (Firefly Squid) Museum with my feet soaking in the pond, a little boy playfully splashes water indicative of the joys of summer and the simplicity of life.
I had escaped a humid Japan to enter an even more humid Hong Kong. I can’t remember ever being so hot. During my vacation, I visited Victoria Harbour five times and would just stare at its unquestionable beauty for hours.
I have seen many stunning skylines and this might just be the most astonishing.
Six Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and Coordinators of International Relations (CIRs) and myself were selected to take part in the “Discover Toyama” tour. It was three magnificent days with six amazing people discovering Toyama, Japan’s hidden gem.
It reminded me why I called this place home.
The month prior I started working at a school with students with physical and mental disabilities. I was initially very nervous but as each week passed, I realised that everyone, despite our seemingly obvious differences, are essentially the same.
My amazing kids loved this Halloween lesson very much because instead of looking like a mummy, I somehow managed to look like a roll of toilet paper much to their amusement.
The is undeniably my favourite picture of 2011. I started my 30 day challenge and one of the things I had decided to do was to take a photograph everyday.
At my school’s Cultural Festival or Bunkasai (文化祭) the brother of one of my students kept insisting that I take pictures of him.
Every time I look at this picture it makes me happy because it embodies unequivocal pleasures of childhood happiness. Maybe sometimes in life all we need is cotton candy and a smile.
After many years of wanting to visit Cambodia, my dream finally came true in December. It was a humbling trip. In spite of living through a terrible history and sometimes abject poverty, Cambodians are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
This trip made me realise how privileged I am and the responsibility I have to those who are not.
Happy New Year, everyone! =)
Jenson recommends: Sharing your favourite memories of 2011.