Winter holidays are finally in the past, and I've jumped right back into work full force. So much so that I've been working overtime the past two weeks just about every day...
But enough about that for now - what about my holidays!?
Well, they ended up being pretty eventful, though I didn't have many big plans initially. Between Christmas, traveling to Fukuoka, and New Years, I kept pretty busy right up until I went back to work.
Christmas eve was just me and the boyfriend - pretty typical here in Japan. He had to work that day so we just had dinner at my place.
Simple but a perfect night.
The next day I was helping him move - from his rented place to his grandparents old house. I met his parents for the first time that night - a bit unexpectedly - after his dad came to help move and suggested we all get dinner after together (boyfriend, his sister who I already know well, and parents).
Though it was unplanned and I was a bit nervous (I think his parents were more, at least his mother), it went really well. They are all such a nice and loving family, and really enjoyed talking to me even with my limited Japanese. His mother was especially eager to ask lots of questions and learn about me, and got excited about inviting me to a bunch of stuff in the future.
The next morning I headed to Fukuoka bright and early. I stayed for a few days, though I didn't have much of a plan. Mostly I just wanted the chance to explore a new city in Japan. I did meet new friends, and was able to meet up with another friend who has lived there for years and showed me a lot of cool places.
Fukuoka Tower at night was beautiful! Especially with the Christmas lights still up outside.
I took a boat ride down the rivers in Yanagawa - 100% recommend! It's like a Japanese version of the canals in Venice.
My friend took me to Dazaifu - we ate Amaou Ichigo Daifuku, stopped by the trendy designer Starbucks, and she taught me some tips and tricks to keep in mind when trying to take photos.
In all it was a really fun trip. A lot of typically tourist places (museums, etc) were all closed because it was getting close to New Years, but I still could enjoy shopping and checking out shrines and other things.
I came back to Kobe and planned to enjoy a few days off and a chill New Years, but I ended up being busy with invited to meet some of the boyfriends good friends. New Years Eve was just us - we watched Kohaku Uta Gassen and ate Soba.
New Years Day I joined the rest of his family for their annual new year party together. It was a pretty large gathering so I was a bit nervous, but again everyone was just so amazing. Many of his family members have had some experience with English, or at least are interested, and were very welcoming to me. His grandmother was the most surprising, as she speaks English amazingly - she lived in America when she was young and worked as an English speaking nurse here in Kobe when she returned. Her English has stuck with her very well, and she was very happy and excited to meet and chat with me. So we chatted and ate various traditional and non traditional foods - I got to eat Osechi for the first time - and drank and just enjoyed the evening.
Although my "low key" holiday plans got pushed aside for all these unplanned invitations, I really enjoyed them and was so happy to be included. While unplanned and a bit rushed, meeting the boyfriends family was a really great experience and I'm so blessed that they are all such amazing and welcoming and friendly people.
So whats to come in 2017? Your guess is as good as mine...
I plan on re-contracting for a third year on the JET programme, staying at my current school. I am looking into grad school for after JET though, 2-3 years down the line, though I'm hoping to stay in Japan for that. Nothing is set in stone, and I still have some research to do concerning it, but I'm in no rush to make plans just yet.
Life is good, I just want to enjoy it.