2022
Photo: oatawa/Shutterstock

10 simple new year's resolutions you can easily achieve in Tokyo

Fun, healthy and more realistic approaches to the promises we make ourselves every January

Emma Steen
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They might bring about a heightened sense of new beginnings, but the rigid expectations many people set for themselves with new year's resolutions each year often lead to disappointment down the line. Let's face it – 2021 was difficult enough as it was, so don’t make this year even harder by subjecting yourself to a regimen of green juice and 7am workouts in a bid to lose that extra quarantine weight. 

Instead, embrace the opportunity to try new things, prioritise your wellbeing and plan for greater things ahead with more realistic solutions. Try swapping a cold-turkey approach to booze for low-alcohol cocktails and early-bird workout sessions for relaxing Zen meditation. By tackling the same old goals via alternative methods, 2022 might turn out to be your brightest year yet.

RECOMMENDED: Things to look forward to in 2022 in Tokyo and Japan

Sticking to it

Declutter your life

If you want to set the tone for a clean slate this year, start with a clean living space. There are plenty of decluttering methods to pick from, but Marie Kondo is definitely the face of the movement. Her best-selling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ met with cult-like enthusiasm across the globe and even landed the organisational expert her own Netflix series, but beyond the hype, Kondo’s methods are regarded by many as revolutionary solutions.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter that may have accumulated around your home, Kondo has an easy-to-follow eight-week tidying challenge that breaks your home makeover into manageable chunks. She's even got tips on organising your home workspace, too.

Embrace your inner geek

It may have been a few years since you were last in school, but with a plethora of free internet resources, you can now spend hours online studying a new language and learning fascinating historical facts about Japan from these popular podcasts

Netflix is a gold mine of information when it comes to learning about Japan what with travel shows, food documentaries and Japanese shows with English subtitles. Don't underestimate the power of reading manga if you're trying to brush up on your Japanese, either. 

If you want the experience of delving into university lectures minus the stress of final exams or exorbitant tuition fees, there are even full semesters of online university courses you can take for free. 

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Try something new

So many new year’s resolutions are about mastering certain skills, but you don’t have to be perfect at something for it to be worth your while. Some of the most underrated achievements are in gathering the courage to do something you’ve never done before for the sake of new experiences. Take surfing for example: catching waves is a lot harder than it looks, but even if you don’t pop up on the board on the first day, you can still pat yourself on the back for stepping out of your usual routine. 

The other great thing about trying new things is that it doesn’t have to take months of careful discipline to tick off your list. Stepping out of your comfort zone with adrenaline-filled experiences like indoor skydiving will only take a single afternoon to complete. Meanwhile, challenging your taste buds with exotic menu items like cicada parfait can be done within your lunch hour at Shibuya’s Chaos Kitchen. 

Go plant-based for Veganuary

There was a time when vegans were met with confused looks when ordering food from Tokyo restaurants. There are plenty of Japanese dishes that don’t include meat, but even a simple bowl of soba without the fish-based dashi broth was simply unheard of until recently.

Now that more people are turning their attention to the environment and adopting sustainable habits, vegan cafés and restaurants are popping up all over, and even the city's chain restaurants are scrambling to accommodate green diners with tasty menu items free of all animal products. From plant-based ramen and omakase sushi courses to vegan cookies and cakes, no one’s left out of the gastronomical adventures Tokyo has to offer.

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Drink less

Feeling sorry for your liver after one too many holiday toasts on Zoom? Going teetotal (or trying) can be a bit of a social dilemma when all your friends will want to do after the pandemic is make a beeline for the city’s most exciting bars. Not to worry, though, because we’ve got a list of bars serving low alcohol cocktails and mocktails to suit every kind of mood. 

Or spare your sleep schedule and get together over traditional Japanese tea instead. There are loads of styles to sample, from gyokuro and sencha to hojicha (roasted green tea) and genmaicha (roasted rice green tea) with Japanese tea.

Update your skincare routine

Cold weather and boozy late-night parties can prevent your skin from looking its best during the winter. Before you go reaching for exorbitantly priced moisturisers and other beauty products you probably won’t finish, know that a good skin care routine doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. 

Want a realistic skincare routine that will give you the results you want? Your best bet is to explore a Japanese drug store where you’ll find everything you need from holy grail makeup removers to rose-shaped beauty soap. 

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Read more books

Perhaps you’ve already got a long reading list that you’ve been meaning to make a dent in, but who could blame you for being a bit distracted last year?

There’s nothing quite like the escape of getting lost in a gripping narrative. Though travel has been off the table for many in the past months, you can still make the trip through these stories set on the streets of Tokyo and best-selling books set in Japan.

Go on an adventure

Can’t bear the thought of more cancelled flights and travel restrictions? Take matters into your own hands and dream up a getaway that isn’t dictated by rigid itineraries or a mandated quarantine. 

Gather a few close friends and spend a weekend at a lavish guest house, or take a last-minute road trip to one of the picturesque glamping spots outside of Tokyo. If you’re tired of sitting at your desk all day, it’s also worth picking one of the many stunning peaks to climb around Japan and pack some gear for a proper camping trip when the weather gets warmer. 

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Prioritise your mental health

How can you expect yourself to hit any goals you’ve set for the next year if you neglect your mental well-being? Prepare yourself for success by picking up a few grounding techniques like Zazen meditation, which is said to come with a boatload of benefits like improved focus and lower stress levels.

Even going for a light jog or doing simple breathing exercises with a background of soothing white noise could be transformative for your emotional wellbeing, but remember that extra support from mental health professionals is always available should you need it. There are several free English helplines available in Japan for those struggling to cope with their mental health, as well as a directory of counsellors and psychologists who are licensed to practice in Japan.

Fall in love with Tokyo (again)

Venues are allowed to stay open past 8pm, bars are serving alcohol again and soon we’ll be getting our booster shots (phew). While it’s important to stay vigilant and maintain social distancing protocols, eased restrictions and higher vaccination rates suggest that we’re in for a much better time in 2022 (fingers crossed). 

While we bid farewell to a number of iconic haunts in 2021, a number of exciting new venues quietly entered the scene over the course of the year. It might not have felt like 2021 was a very eventful year, but a lot has happened in Tokyo since you were last out and about in the city. Tokyo is somehow even brighter than it was before and with a host of events and new venues to anticipate in 2022, so look forward to seeing the city in a whole new light and getting to know it all over again.

Chin up for 2022

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