With 2021 now lurching towards its socially restricted end, it’s time once again to share my favourite photos from the last 12 months.
2021 hasn’t been a good year for many people, and personally it’s one that changed life forever. The tragic loss of my wife Akiko in the summer is still something that feels unreal at times. I miss her enormously, and the daily reminders and memories remain far more upsetting than comforting. A period made just about bearable with the help and support of friends and family. My family, I should add, as Akiko’s family turned on me pretty much the moment she died, swiftly putting into place their plan to steal my home and every last bit of money they could lay their hands on. A plan, looking back, that was clearly hatched the moment we knew Akiko’s time was very limited. The promises they made to her as she lay dying and the lovely things they said to me in front of Akiko were all designed to convince her, and indeed me, that they would carry out her final wishes.
The fog of grief and the stress of dealing with paperwork in my non-native language meant it wasn’t until they fully showed their hand that I knew what was afoot, so I now have legal representation. When the outcome gets clearer, I’ll cover all this in detail, but basically there have been lies, slander, and racial slurs aplenty. So much of it is racially motivated. Despite almost 19 years of happy marriage, I am nothing but a foreign parasite. The actual words they used.
It’s this aspect more than anything that makes me want to write something proper and in-depth about this whole sorry affair. Yes, it‘ll be cathartic, like typing this out now, but more than anything it may help others avoid a similar fate. It doesn’t get a huge amount of coverage, but discrimination is very real in Japan, and it remains an ever-present problem. The fact that it’s generally not overt doesn’t make it any less damaging either, as while Akiko’s parents are just two individuals, my attempts to fight back have been hindered every step of the way by Japanese officialdom. A realisation that has been a wake up call for me, and something that can hopefully be a warning to others.
So yeah, a tough year to say the least, but I do have wonderful friends, a loving family, and of course photography. The latter, just like every year, has helped and provided some much needed joy. Just being out with a camera is hugely beneficial, as along with getting me out of the house, it’s also the best way to lose myself and just be in the moment. Something that has obviously been more important than ever these past 12 months.
Below then are the photos. I’ve done more sets this year, which is something I hope to continue, so quite a few of the images work much better as part of a larger series. With that in mind, I’ve also included links to the original posts.
Like every year, they aren’t in any particular order, just how I think they work best. Also, some of them are included because of memories I have attached to them, or simply the moment I pressed the shutter.
Photos that wrap up Tokyo Times for the year, with normal posts resuming on January 4th. So until then, take good care of yourself, take similarly good care of the people you love, and whatever you do, don’t forget to let them know now and again what they mean to you.