Our representative, Cecile Eijsink-Bonnier, lives and works in Tokyo. From the deserted streets Cecile reports on daily life during corona in Japan.
“The Corona-virus arrived early in Japan, in January. For much of February and March, the Japanese did what they always do in a normal flu season: wear the masks, give great attention to hygiene, and especially do not hug. It was enough to keep Japan Inc. going and keep Corona contained. It created a fine, but vulnerable balance.
It was late March, when the cherry trees were blossoming, that the Japanese for a week lost their discipline; Spring weather beckoned people out of their homes, leading to full parks, picnics, even a few mass events – the balance tilted and Corona started its expansion.
The Japanese government had no other choice than to impose restrictions, starting with Greater Tokyo. It is a semi-lockdown: Hostess bars, pachinkos (gambling halls) and yes, also schools were closed, but the offices, shops and even restaurants remained open. Initially, the biggest city in the world by most standards seemed unstoppable. The Japanese salary men kept coming to work; mainly to escape from their small apartments, where families often live and sleep in one main room. Yet, as the pressure from the government grew with the number of cases, the Japanese resigned themselves with the fact they have to stay home. In their cramped spaces, this is creating tensions. There’s already a real estate company now offering temporary spouse apartments to avoid a ‘coronavirus divorce’. Since 26 May, the state of emergency has been lifted and people can return to their offices. From 1 June, the schools will also reopen partially.
For me, it was a big shift in early March when the British School of my children together with all Japanese schools shifted to home schooling. My husband and I made the joke that when we decided to have 4 children, home schooling had not crossed our mind. But now, more than 3 months later, it has become a better experience than initially feared. We benefit from the fact that we can still go outside, we can both work from home and the Japanese postal deliveries are just incredibly reliable for anything. I have not yet tried the spouse apartment; but I keep it in mind, just in case, for my husband 😉“.