It’s New Year’s Eve, so tradition dictates that I must do a ‘best of 2015’ round-up blog! This was a very busy year for me blog-wise: a trip to Japan, branching out into restaurant reviews and reaching 1,000 subscribers! And, of course, I read lots of books and watched my fair share of anime. Competition was fierce for some of the categories – so there are a few joint winners and runners-up this year. Anyway, here are my highlights from 2015!
Destination of the Year: Osaka
I only very recently finished my 2015 holiday blogs, which you can read here, and picking my favourite destination was very difficult! My travel companion Oana and I saw some amazing, crazy and beautiful places… and Osaka won because it had absolutely everything I needed in a Japanese city and I could picture myself living there. I was also introduced to okonomiyaki and takoyaki in Osaka, which are now my new absolute favourite foods.
Runner-up: Kanazawa, a truly beautiful and tranquil Japanese city
Book of the Year: Sushi and Beyond
On the subject of Japanese food, Michael Booth’s Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese know about Cooking was my favourite Japan read this year. If you’re a foodie, this book will teach you everything you need to know about Japanese cuisine (and there’s plenty of weird food and hilarious stories in there too). Booth’s a comic narrator and you can also see my interview with him at HYPER JAPAN here.
Runner-up: Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Anime of the Year: Death Note
Yes, I’m aware Death Note came out years ago but I only very recently watched in on Netflix. Prodigy student Light Yagami comes into possession of a note book and discovers that, if he writes a person’s name in it, they die. Thus begins a battle of genius minds between Light aka ‘Kira’ and L, a mysterious detective. Dark and gripping – this is a series you have to marathon in one go because it’s so intense!
Film of the Year: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
A beautifully-animated Studio Ghibli film based on the Japanese folklore tale of a bamboo cutter who discovers a princess sleeping in a bamboo tree. This film screened for a limited period in London and is now available on DVD here, for those of you who missed it.
Runner-up: Fukuchan of Fukufuku Flats
Event of the Year: Festival Asia
Festival Asia had its debut earlier this year in London’s Tabacco Dock and was a fantastic celebration of all things Asia. I really hope this event returns in 2016 as it was well-organised, well-attended and very fun!
I really tried to pick just one favourite restaurant this year, but as you’ve probably gathered by now I love my Japanese food. Flesh and Buns is pan-Asian rather than strictly Japanese, but their teriyaki salmon hirata buns and Korean fried wings scream #foodporn. Sake no Hana, on the other hand, offers a mouth-watering seven course lunch menu and is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. I couldn’t choose just one so had to go for both!
Performance of the Year: Kafka on the Shore
OK, so I didn’t actually review this play for various reasons but I did flag it up at the beginning of the year urging people to buy tickets! The Ninagawa Company put on two fantastic plays at the Barbican Theatre this year, one of which was an adaption of Haruki Murakami’s iconic novel Kafka on the Shore. This play was fantastically staged and gruesome (the less said about ‘that’ fridge scene the better), and I hope the Ninagawa Company returns to England again!
Runner-up: Kuli-Kala, Revenge of the Samurai