Tokyo’s in quarantine. And it isn’t. There is a strange paradox happening right now as parts of society in Japan (such as schools and large events) are shut down, but other parts of society (day cares, restaurants, parks) are up and running — some busier than ever! With the flowering of the Cherry-Blossom trees, the government of Tokyo recently asked people to stay inside this weekend and not go out and clog up the parks. But the government stops short from mandating anything, leaving it as a suggestion. It almost seems up to you to decide whether or not what you are doing is essential. These are certainly strange times, just as our newest video shows.
When life serves you lemons, make lemonade. That’s exactly what we did with the shutdown of schools and many public areas and attractions here in Japan due to Corona virus. After the initial shutdown went into affect, the prices of hotels (especially in Kansai) dropped very low. While there was a lot of things understandably closed due to the virus, there were many things that were still open and safe under the proper precautions. So we ventured out on a surprise trip to Kansai to learn more about this beautiful country where we live.
Kansai is an area to the west south-west of Tokyo that is known for its bustling metropolis of Osaka, beautiful spaces of Nara where you can feed the deer, or the ancient city of Kyoto that’s full of history. Home to Nintendo, Universal Studios Japan and tons of historical Japanese historical buildings, Kansai is a must-visit place to visit in Japan if you want to learn all about this beautiful country. Although most spaces were closed, we were still able to see a lot in the few days we had. Enjoy the latest episode of Life in Japan.
Since our return from Kansai, America too has since clamped down hard to try to stop Corona in its tracks, taking further measures by closing restaurants and keeping people quarantined as much as possible. Meetings at larger than 10 people are highly discouraged. My father said he has never seen anything like it. Japan reacted a number of weeks earlier by cancelling schools and encouraging people to work from home as much as possible. In the case of Japan, we are still able to get together and travel, but everything is done with health in mind. Our meetings are being live-streamed and done online. Another advantage in Japan is that there is a minimal amount of physical contact (shaking hands, hugging and kissing are not social norms). Our prayers are with all of the people and countries fighting a common enemy so that life can move on.
Everyone has been thrown off by the recent outbreak of Corona Virus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of the situation. Here’s what we’ve been up to at home — and outside. While there’s a lot that has changed in these weeks since the outbreak, there’s a lot of things you can still do and enjoy. And that’s exactly what we will do.
One of my favorite parts of living in Japan is how the Plum Blossoms announce the imminent arrival of spring each and every winter. It doesn’t matter how cold, long or full of viruses the winter is — spring is always around the corner. This year we are especially grateful for this reminder, as we can use all the help we can get to see Corona virus put in check and things be able to go back to normal. Are you thankful for the arrival of Spring this year? Enjoy the latest episode of Life in Japan.
Late last evening the news came out: Prime Minister Abe asked for the shutdown of all public schools up until the new school year (beginning of April). Up until now Japan was on alert regarding the Corona virus. The news called for much more concern everywhere. Lines for stores backed up before opening hours. Toilet paper, soap and masks were all sold out. The governor of the norther prefecture of Hokkaido asked all residents to stay indoors this weekend. It’s serious.
This morning as we told the girls they may not be finishing their 4th grade year, they were anything but sad. For kids who don’t know better, it’s like a vacation in March, usually one of the busiest times of the year.
With the olympics coming up, this may be a good decision for the health of all of the kids here in Japan. The travelers quarantined on the Diamond Princess for several days have since been released and let back into society. These potential carriers of the virus have everyone on high alert for future signs of infections. The problem is that there is no easy way to get tested for Corona virus infection in Japan. The hospitals are not equipped to test everyone who wants to be tested. So the number of cases may be much higher than what is being reported for the simple fact that most people don’t have access to the test.
This weekend we are preparing our Paz Church services to be streamed online, so that people can watch from the confines of their own homes. I will be speaking about security and assurance in times of uncertainty, and if you’d like to join the livestream, visit us at https://paz.church/japan/.