Before COVID-19, I used to spend Christmas in the UK, and New Year in a European city. Sometimes I went to Paris. Other times I went to Amsterdam or Helsinki. Paris is my favourite city. I last went to Paris at the end of 2019.
There are many tourists in Paris at the end of the year. I don’t visit the tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower. I like to sit in a cafe and read a book while drinking coffee. I also like to go to cemeteries. Many of my favourite writers and artists are buried in Paris. I like to go to their graves.
On 31st December 2019, I went to a cemetery. I wanted to see Sartre, de Beauvoir, Baudelaire and Nijinsky’s graves. I went early -at about 8:30am. The sky was still quite dark. There were no other people in the cemetery. It was very peaceful and quiet. It was good to get away from the noisy city and all the tourists.
In the afternoon, I went to some bookshops. There is a famous English bookshop in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. I enjoyed browsing there. I also went to a French bookshop. I can’t speak French very well, but I am studying it.
At night, I went to the Sacre Coeur. It is a famous church in Paris. I enjoyed listening to the choir. The voices are beautiful.
On 1st January, I returned to Japan. I only stayed in Paris for three nights, but I had a very good time. I hope I can spend next New Year in Paris too.
Today (28th December) is the last working day of the year in Japan. Of course, many people will work over the year end/New Year period, but today, many people will finish. Work starts again on 4th January next year.
Many people will travel home to see their families over the holiday period. They will also go to temples or shrines to pray for health and happiness in the New Year. I will stay in my town. My friend will visit me. We will go to a shrine on 1st January and a temple on 2nd January. I want to buy some lucky charms for next year.
I also want to go running over the holiday period. The gym I go to closes on Friday 30th December, and reopens on 4th January. So, I am going to go tomorrow, and then if the weather is fine, I am going to go running on Friday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I will start going to the gym again on Wednesday.
Many people will hang New Year decorations up in their homes, and eat rice cake. They will enjoy relaxing with their families, watching TV and eating New Year dishes. I hope everyone has a happy and peaceful time.
Do you celebrate Christmas? If you do, I hope you had a good day.
This Christmas, I stayed in Japan. I got up at 6:30am. In the morning, I studied Spanish and Portuguese. Then, I ran 10km. I ran along the shores of the lake in my town. Then, I went to a second-hand bookshop, and bought seven books. The books are all in Japanese. Six of the books are by my favourite Japanese writer Matsumoto Seicho. They are mystery and suspense novels. The other book is about another writer I like – Mishima Yukio. I am looking forward to reading them.
In the afternoon and evening, I joined my family. My family is in the UK. I joined their celebrations by video. I enjoyed watching everyone open their presents. Then, I started reading one of my new books, and went to bed early. It was a quiet Christmas, but I enjoyed it.
Do you like going to the dentist? I don’t. I don’t think many people like it. A few weeks ago, my gum was swollen. It wasn’t painful, but I was worried about it. So I made an appointment with the dentist. I hadn’t been for about three years!
The dentist took an x-ray. He said, “Your gum is swollen because there is a problem with your teeth. You need treatment.”
So, last week, I had treatment. I had three injections so I couldn’t feel anything. The dentist drilled my teeth, but I didn’t feel any pain. I think my dentist is highly skilled. He also gave me medicine -some to kill bacteria, and some painkillers.
I went back to the dentist yesterday. The dentist looked at my teeth, and said, “Everything looks OK now. But I need to work on another tooth next time.”
So, I am going back to the dentist next year. I am happy that my gum is no longer swollen, and that I have no pain. It’s nearly Christmas, and I want to eat chocolate! Maybe that is not good for my teeth….
Here in Japan, we had our first snow of the season over the weekend. Some places in Japan had very heavy snowfall. Many vehicles got stuck on roads, and some trains stopped running.
It wasn’t so bad in the city where I live. We had about 10cm of snow. The snow stuck (= stayed on the ground) for about a day. Then, it was gone. According to the weather forecast, we are going to have some more snow in the next few days.
I don’t like the snow. Well, I like looking at it. I live in the countryside, and the winter scenery is very beautiful. However, I don’t like digging my car out of snow, or clearing snow from my car and car park. Also, I don’t like driving in the snow. Here in Japan, we have snow tyres, but our cars still slip sometimes. Also, we have to leave early if we are going somewhere, because the traffic on the roads moves slowly.
The weather forecast said that we can expect more snow than usual this year. I think it will snow heavily in January and February. I will keep my shovel and snow wiper in my car just in case I need them.
Every year, I make a list of books I have read during that year. This year, I have read 21 books. Now I am reading my 22nd book. I think I will finish it before the end of the year. My target was 24 books. I didn’t hit my target, but I am happy with my reading this year.
I only read one English book. That was a business book. The other 20 books were all Japanese books. Most of them were fiction books by my favourite Japanese writer Seicho Matsumoto. Some books were non-fiction. They are about studying languages, or business. I also read a book of essays about life. My friend wrote it. It was very interesting. It made me think that we shouldn’t waste time.
I bought some of my Japanese books on Amazon, but I also bought many at a second-hand bookshop called “Book Off”. Some books were cheap, but some books were not so cheap. However, they were cheaper than the books in my local bookshop or Amazon. I can also sell the books back to the second-hand bookshop.
I also read a very short graded reader in easy Spanish. I could understand around 98% of the book. I only started studying Spanish a few months ago, so I was pleased that I could understand most of it.
Next year, I want to read more books in Spanish. I also think I should read more books in English. However, I have enjoyed reading Japanese books this year. I want to read more Japanese books by my favourite writer next year too.
There is a interesting boat ride in my city in Japan. It is called “Horikawa Sightseeing Boat”. In my city, there is a castle. Around the castle, there is water. This is called a “moat”. There are also many rivers in my city. The boat sails around the moat and the rivers. The boat is small. It is around 8 metres long and 2 metres wide. About 10 people can ride the boat.
In winter, the boat has a “kotatsu”. A kotatsu is a Japanese heater with a heated blanket. People on the boat can sit under the blanket and enjoy the winter scenery while keeping warm. I think it is a good idea.
When my family or friends visit me, I always take them on this boat. They enjoy it very much. My city is very traditional. It has many old buildings and natural scenery. Of course, it is good to see the buildings and scenery when we are walking, but it is also nice to see them from the boat.
The New Year is a time when many people make goals. Do you have any goals for 2022? How about English goals? Do you want to improve your English? Or maybe take an exam?
I have some language goals. I am studying Chinese, Korean, French and Russian. I want to pass the HSK5 exam in Chinese, take the TOPIK2 exam in Korean, pass the Pre-1st grade exam in French, and achieve B1 level in Russian. I have a lot of studying to do! I enjoy studying languages, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I also want to go to the gym more often. Now, I go three times a week. I want to go four times a week. And I want to eat less chocolate…. Maybe that goal is a little difficult to achieve……
I love taking language tests! In June, I took a French test. I took level 3 of the Japanese French exam. Level 3 is quite easy, and I passed.
Two days ago, I took a Chinese tests. I took HSK3. The level is lower intermediate. I didn’t understand some of the questions, but I think I did OK. I will get the results in mid-October.
I enjoy taking language tests for a few reasons. The first reason is motivation. If I have a goal, I study more. If I don’t have a goal, I don’t study as much. The second reason is that I can understand my level. The third reason is that I feel great when I take a test and pass!
Now, I am studying for the Chinese HSK4 exam in April, and the 2nd grade French exam in June. When I have passed those exams, I am going to add another language. Maybe Russian!