The Pandemic – A Year In

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?

And I mean that in all senses of the word. It’s indeed been a year – longer, I admit – since I last posted on the Uncover Japan blog. But it’s also been a year of … disruption. And uncertainty. And endurance. And survival.

And if we’re being truly honest, not a lot of travel.

Wanna get away? Yup, me too. I did luckily manage a trip to the Seto Inland Sea this past autumn.

Here in Japan, a year on, so much has changed and yet we’re currently in the same “space”, the same twilight zone, we’ve been inhabiting for the past year. Tokyo is on the cusp of extending what began as a one month state of emergency, and now is heading into two months plus. Vaccination has started to roll out to a handful of communities, but it’s woefully inadequate for a nation with a population of 126 million … a nation that still seems set on hosting the Olympics this summer. And yes, that’s the plan. Though with very little guidance on what that “plan” looks like (Spectators? No spectators? Vaccines required? Will athletes have to quarantine?), we all simply wait in the ongoing limbo.

Have you gone through a lot of emotional soul searching this past year? Or simply just a lot of emotions? Me too. It bled over a little into the Uncover Japan space. In fact, it manifested itself in a lot of not writing. Sorry for that.

As we come into spring of 2021, I feel both battered and rejuvenated. The year 2020 brought a lot of things into focus for me, and helped me too realize what parts of this “job” I still enjoy, what parts I may have to modify, and what inspires me on my upcoming goal list.

Tokyo, with zero tourists

In the last two years, the tours I lead here in Tokyo – offered in conjunction with my amazing and supportive colleague Excursions Japan and under the umbrella of travel company Heartland Japan – have become the bulk of the Uncover Japan brand. And I have to say, I’m really proud of them. I’ve worked hard to make them truly unique – fascinating story-based deep dives into neighborhoods that most people don’t think twice about. Like Hibiya. And Ningyocho. And Roppongi and Akasaka. I love the validation having returning participants provides, since it makes me think that maybe I’m on the right track. But most of all, I just love sharing Japan with others, especially in a tour setting.

So why am I looking ahead to the end of my dream job? Because I’m not naive. The day will come – again – when we no longer live in Tokyo and I can no longer lead tours. So a slew of projects is on the “wish list”. New video spots on facebook and Instagram (and hopefully added here). Online tours (which I thought I’d never do). An eventual podcast? That’s certainly a dream.

I feel that 2020 was a year of creative hibernation (I mean, let’s be honest – it WAS/IS a pandemic). But 2021 will hopefully be a year to soar. I’m happy in the knowledge that I have another year in Tokyo, another year to (safely) lead people around a city I love, and another year to prepare for the future with projects that inspire and motivate me. I’m not sure how much longer this blog will factor into those plans. But I do hope that wherever I migrate to next, you’ll choose to come along for the ride.

I wish you all a vastly improved 2021. 頑張りましょう! (Gambarimasho!)

6 thoughts on “The Pandemic – A Year In

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  1. It is amazing how this year has made us all do a lot of soul searching. But, it has also put some of us in slo-mo. With all of the time I have had, I should have done more. Some of this was hampered by health issues, but not all. Glad you are back. I have always enjoyed these posts.

    1. Thanks, Gwen! You’d think with all the time on our hands, we would have filled it with productivity … but I don’t think many of us (myself included) truly realized what a mental toll the pandemic would take. Happy I found what peace I needed to in order to move myself forward.

  2. Welcome back Mandy, looking forward to more of your blog this year. I recall you mentioned exploring a book at one stage, are you still considering this?

    1. Thanks, Brid. Actually, yes! I feel like I am finally ready to move forward with purpose on the book idea. Writing has always been a strength and passion, and I finally feel as if my material is unique enough to be something new for the market. I’m hoping it’s something I can successfully pitch somewhere. Fingers crossed!

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