Corona time; COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2; 2019nCoV) in Japan

+ updates until May

Situation-Reports:

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/newpage_00032.html

https://toyokeizai.net/sp/visual/tko/covid19/en.html

Years ago Japanese mask fetishism was known but minor – nowadays things have changed and Corona-Virus showing us again that nature may not be Human’s best friend; the situation seems to get more&more serious and public life getting slow. To Hospital or Hospiz people cannot come anymore for visit or can only go with mask and on emergency, offices and public agencies shut down and closed; public swimming pools and other meeting places closing. Still, many people think officials try to hide facts&numbers and after struggling about Tokyo-Marathon (didn’t officially cancel, only asking plz not to go/come) Japan should call off Olympic Games for this year but already the fire for Tokyolympics is ignited, advertisement going on (rumours said that Japan recently gave huge donations to WHO as well as IOC, big money spent already to prepare the games https://t1p.de/8sx9) – while even nature or, if you like superstition stories, the old gods showing their dissatisfaction with more frequent little earthquakes that shake the ground …

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/newpage_00032.html

https://www.dw.com/en/could-japan-call-off-tokyo-olympics-over-coronavirus-fears/a-52292386

.. while life is going on, specialists talk about research and testing, giving many advice where the virus may be already, what to avoid and how to act (washing hands more often, carefull when sneezing or coughing and better wearing mask when going out, it’s not to stop the virus catching you but to protect others around you; Japanese Ministry of Health posting official guidelines https://t1p.de/zahq) and some getting more creative in their mask fashion …

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/25/national/japan-mask-shortages-covid19/#.Xlc-rErgrIU

.. now – 29th of February, quite late, but in this country public officers already known for their lack of taking on responsibilities – Prime Minister Abe appears to the public on a special press conference for the 1st time in this crisis to tell more seriously about responsibility and how to act further on fighting the spread of the virus. Disputes on Social Media going on, still a big problem and maybe a big threat of huge financial losses seems to be postponing or cancellation of the Tokyolympics (https://t1p.de/wu16), but at the end – reality is usually more strong than plans&wishes. One famous Sumo-Tournament in the first week of March is opening in Osaka with almost no audience, where usually thousands of fans sit and cheer on their favourites …

.. while in Germany, much later than Abe and even it was already obvious that Europe (especially Italy and in Germany Bavaria&NRW) may become hotspot of COVID-19, Chancelor Merkel, she seems to be tired of all this ruling business let alone leadership, talking now to the people in public empty words that inculde many points but actually say nothing …

https://www.nzz.ch/international/coronavirus-in-deutschland-merkel-spricht-im-fernsehen-ld.1547315

.. meanwhile a pretty cold spring started, surfing season, barbecue at the beach, garden flowers and Sakura trees unfolding their beauty …

.. and now (24./25.March) it became official: Tokyolympics will be postponed until next year …

Today, 30th March, Tokyo’s Mayor Koike speaking on public not to go out to Bars and crowded places like Pachinko, not telling about total shut down but it’s clear changing of lifestyle is going on. We got a letter from a Hospiz we used to go that visit will not be possible from the beginning of April. On TV new information about an effect caused by the virus that may destroy the ability for smell and taste. Medical news concerning the virus daily updated. One famous actor, TV talent (Shimura Ken, 70 yrs old) died on Corona; he was known for being a heavy smoker (3 packs a day), got already treatment on Pneumonia several years ago. He was quite independent, with an unbound good personal lifestyle, liked to go to noble Izakaya (居酒屋) and Kyabakura-Bars (キャバクラ) – big mourning on public and as a result people will go out much less, lots of talking about going down of entertainment and economy. Our favourite Onsen and sauna in Odawara (in „Korona World“ – no joke) getting much less customers already …

Corona-Sakura 2020

6th April, no declaration of lockdown (that would be difficult here, Japanese are known on the one side for being submissive to orders comming from Tenno but on the other side for their extraordinary sense for disobidience if the time is right) but news about research and propositions; 7th April, big declaration of Prime Minister Abe was announced since days; now he was talking and it’s not much change – Barber shops, Yoga studios, Gym, Pachinko, many places with lots of contacts should be closing (not will be closing!), people asked not to leave house if not necessary; most public places, schools will be closed especially in the most densely populated areas along Route No. 1 between Tokyo and Osaka; Japan stays strong together, biggest challenge since 1945 etc.pp … in Japan it is actually difficult to force the shop owners officially to close down, but the social control in society is quite strong and in a situation like this no shop owner would risk to continue while others shutting down and going out of business. Abe’s speech was a little bit like a melody (my wife rolling eyes and almost dancing to the words 😉 ) and probably not so many guys trust in his sincerety. Anyway, as long as Tenno isn’t giving a big moving speech, people don’t see too much danger. Japanese I was talking to doubt the published numbers of infections and know that only guys with strong symptoms or travellers from abroad getting virus test – so not many tests showing less infected people of course …

Yesterday already proposed but today it is more clear that Japanese authorities focus on more strikt regulations, Tokyo Mayor Koike strongly recommending to close restaurants and other places with alcoholic service to shut down for the evenings and the Head of our prefecture (Kanagawa) following Tokyo’s advice. In Tokyo restaurants, cafeterias will close for the evening and night service; in this big area shelter getting prepared for guys working in Tokyo but not having a home (thousands from other areas or black workers going to jobs and just stay overnight in special cafeterias with shower and possibel sleep in reclining big chairs). Japanese People usually accept this recommendations even if that is no order by law (the Japanese language has several expressions to underline and justify the importance of an information; my wife say, it is no wonder many educated Japanese don’t speak other languages since they need most of their youth to study a most sophisticated use of Nihongo) …

13./14. April: Government spokesman speaks the things many officials saying nowadays „.. best effort .. research going on .. caution .. responsibility .. we don’t know yet ..“; family restaurants (that are still open …) offer desinfection in front, not so many guests coming anymore but now having wide space in between, leaving unoccupied every second table for example …

.. and now to the beginning of May Japanese seem to arrange with best protection from the virus and daily life. Around the clock news about research on the virus itself, vaccine and numbers of infections (still not so many tests) and life is going on more less; shutting down/lockdown rules were never that strict in Japan as for example in Germany or other countries abroad …

Advertisement for new mask fashion, for online marriage as well as online funeral service increasing; preliminary decisions for the next big Sumo-Tournament happen without audience, family restaurants (like our favourite ‚Saizeriya‘ in Hiratsuka) reopen again with limitations according to the situation, some Izakaya, Pachinko and other entertainment never closed; at the coast line reconstruction work after damages from last Typhoon (https://t1p.de/twgk) continuing (still with old advertisement from the now postponed Tokyolympics), in every public house and supermarktes (almost) each and every one wearing mask, plastic film at chashiers, no touching only scanning, information signs ‚Keep Distance!‘ etc. pp; my beloved Onsen and Sauna places as well as public pools for swimming stay closed, so guys like me go cycling along the coast to keep in shape; usually, along the coast wind and sun getting good&strong, infection danger is low, but for courtesy not only in supermarket, office or other public buildings I cover mouth&nose – now to the beginning of Golden Week (https://t1p.de/n7rm), which is the most important free time of the year, in Social Media more people from big cities like Tokyo complain about easy life in prefectures along the coastline; Japanese having a very strong sense for ずるい (zurui – unfair) that means when mayority following lockdown, social distance (Japanese anyway never so close to eachother) and mask rules you should not provoke with doing very different, of course depending on situation and place …

.. last update to the end of May …

As already explained above life is rolling and going on again despite still existing limits and barriers. Still always explanations on danger, for research etc.pp but also showing the numbers going down significantly. One of the less famous Sumo-Wrestlers (Shobushi) died with Corona at the age of 28 but he suffered on sugar disease since long and, as the above mentioned actor Shimura Ken also liked to live his life in full. In most prefectures public life officially opened again (in many places and from the perspective of many people is was never strictly shut down); still some areas ask to stay home, but nobody getting punishment if not; sight seeing, parking places and more stay closed and if you plan to go where other guys of course you ware a mask for courtesy but no reason to take on mask if you cycle where you’re alone.

One big differences to Government officials in Germany/Europe and elsewhere abroad for example ist their performance here in Japan since weeks with masks and most citizen do the same. Despite all difficulties and danger for risk group life seems to come back to normal and people already discussing and mourning about the most expensive Tokyolympics (now, after postponement it’s probably 800 Mio.$ more expensive) …

… and now 26th May Abe declaring on a press conference end of lockdown and taking off his mask effective for the public; anyway, the numbers looking pretty good, here at the beachside Shonan area life already started again (never really finished, just slow down a bit for some weeks), social distancing as now also practized very carefully in many countries around the world, was never a problem and already usual behaviour in Japan long before (even if not that strict as it is now),our favourite Onsen in Hiratsuka, Odawara, Chigasaki and elsewhere opening for service again and we may go to the south for hiking and other enjoyment 🙂

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