2020 in Review – Not a Lost Year

2020 didn’t really work out as planned. But while I have seen no shortage of posts on social media about it being a ‘lost year’, my experiences don’t tie in with this. Further, of the various phrases and concepts that I come across in my research and dealings with Japan, one of those that I don’t like and cannot relate to is the ‘lost decade(s)’. While my first trip to Japan was in 1989, many of the key ones (the only time I lived there, for example, as well as some important research trips), happened in the 1990s and then into the 2000s.

Those decades were not lost to me – they were essential to my understanding of Japan and the aspects that I study. I also enjoyed the trips around the country – visiting all 47 prefectures in the process. Yes, there were hardships for many in Japan during that time and it may not have been as fun as the bubble period (only my trip in 1989 coincided with that) – but for the majority, that period wasn’t as bad as it often made out, worse than the bubble maybe, but ‘lost’? I don’t think so.

The reality is that there are winners and loser all of the time, and expecting there only to be winners and everything to always go well is unrealistic and unhelpful. Things may not turn out as planned, but even through the hardships we can learn, develop and change in ways that can help in the future. The results may not always be immediate, but so long as we are still alive (and I am at the time of writing), and I don’t want to belittle people who have been ill or lost loved ones and sadly many are not this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic for example, a year (or decade) cannot be completely lost.

And, despite what the media may have written with headlines like ‘Christmas is cancelled’ – Christmas was not cancelled at all. And Christmas 2020 was better than many less than 100 years ago. Imagine a world where there’s no internet (so no chance of seeing relatives at all), food is rationed, you might get killed, and your kids are living in the countryside with strangers. I wonder, did the media in WW2 complain about Christmas being cancelled?

So rather than dwell on the things that didn’t go to plan or the holidays that were cancelled, this post will bring together some of the more positive developments from 2020, with links to the relevant posts and pages.

On the publication front, this year I published my second novel, Tokyo 20/20 Vision (although I had to make some revisions after the 2020 Olympics were rescheduled), an article about disaster movies was published, the print version of an article about memorialisation sites (the electronic version came out in 2019) was published, a chapter about Japanese transportation and contents tourism was published and a short chapter about Nakasone and the JL123 was published. I also completed the first draft of my third novel, FOUR – ahead of schedule.

Below is a list of some of the most popular posts from my site in the last 12 months:

I did a number of media interviews this year. Some of these led to blog posts also – such as The Future of the Shinkansen and The Future of Trains? I also did an interview for the Swedish magazine Aftonbladet Söndag about Dan T. Sehlberg’s book Brända Brev (The Burnt Letter Society) and the JL123 isho and their continued significance . I did a further interview for The Japan Times about the JL123 crash and the need for a reinvestigation. Another interview I did for a documentary programme about JL123 will come out in 2021 so I will post about that in due course.

In terms of music, the standout album for me was the excellent “Strings Attached” by Berlin. See also my post about new albums related to my favourite groups. Other than a post about Japan Sinks 2020, my main posts related to TV and movies have been in relation to my article about disaster movies.

So, there you have it. That was 2020. Now on to 2021.

In the coming months I will be completing my third novel, will be working more on my book Frankie Fans Say (this may also get completed in 2021), and will start on my fourth novel. In terms of academic publications, the Japanese version of a chapter about contents tourism and transportation will be published, and some other chapters that I have contributed to books will hopefully be completed. All being well the documentary about the JL123, mentioned above, will also be shown. Other than that – who knows?

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