I was not sure if I would address the current crisis on my blog. I had already written many drafts, sharing my opinion on how matters are being handled by the Japanese government. Editing these drafts on a daily basis because the situation (and my opinion) changes by the hour. So, just to not let all that writing time go to waste, here is a summary of my thoughts on the past few weeks:
The toilet paper hoarding that broke out after a tweet went viral that toilet paper was imported from China and that face masks were made from the same type of paper (already proven that this is fake news), was quite a funny situation to me. As I joked with friends, colleagues and on my social media about it, the madness around toilet paper did force me to go along with it. I felt a strange sense of victory each time I came across a pack of toilet paper, and ended up buying more packs than I usually would. But I kept a sense of humor through it all. Never thought I would have to deal with a toilet paper crisis in my life. The thing that bothered me, though, were the racist comments from people in Western countries that came along with it. “Those weird Japanese are acting so stupid with their toilet paper” was one of the nicer comments I got. This made me so mad. Especially, because a week later, those same people that would insult the society I live in today, were hoarding a lot more than just toilet paper, and even starting fights on parking lots.
A few weeks ago, I actually started to believe that Japan could have flattened the curve. Even though no social rules were implemented here, the virus cases remained incredibly low. Foreign countries started to report about the “Japanese method”, on how it is part of the Japanese culture not to shake hands or kiss, and that due to this society in which wearing face masks is socially acceptable, a huge outbreak was prevented. I was skeptical of this, to say the least. I still saw social media posts of how people went out to party, go to bars and restaurants, have graduation ceremonies and would come together in masses in Yoyogi park to do hanami. The moment the Olympics got cancelled, a new record of infection cases was reported every single day. I feel like Japan has finally woken up and will start to take social distancing seriously. Even though there still aren’t any social distancing implementations from the government, people and companies are starting to take action on their own. Companies reinforce working from home, restaurants provide take out bento’s for lunch, and most bars no longer organize event. Last weekend, the public announcement speakers in my area urged everybody to stay home and not go outside unless absolutely necessary. Today, the Japanese government announced a state of emergency in seven prefectures, Tokyo included. I feel relieved to see that action is finally being taken in this country. However, I am more worried than ever, as I feel that the damage that has been inflicted in the past few weeks of still going out and taking rush hour trains is yet to be seen.
Dion and I have been lucky to be able to work from home for the past few weeks. The company we work at has advised WFH for over a month, and gradually made it mandatory. So, we have been self-quarantining at home for about two weeks. I am more grateful than ever that we own a car, so that we can avoid public transport if we absolutely need to go somewhere, and being able to do a big grocery haul in one go.
Except for actually working the same hours as if we were to be at the office, our days have been filled with a lot of cooking, a daily 30 minute walk (or run in my case), exercising or stretching, reading and writing (and in Dion’s case gaming).
These are difficult, confusing and lonely times. Yet, I am happy to know a group of supporting people and colleagues, making “keeping in touch” easy and actually a lot of fun. One colleague at work booked everybody’s calendar for 15 minutes on every afternoon during the work week, during which we can just grab coffee or tea and talk about anything we want in a conference call, as if we were in our office kitchen chitchatting over a coffee break. Another friend introduced us to Netflix Party, which allows you to watch Netflix simultaneously and chat at the same time. Thanks to these lovely initiatives, as well as tuning in with family and friends on a more regular basis, I feel closer to them in trying times. I am so grateful for these people in my life. And (cheese alert) I feel incredibly grateful for my relationship with Dion. A lot of couples talk about how hard it is to be confined with their partner, but it has brought Dion and I even closer and our relationship has never been better.
It feels like it’s not enough to say that I hope everybody is safe and healthy. I would like to take a minute to thank the incredibly courageous doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and people in other necessary industries that are putting their own lives on the line every single day. I hope that the governments around the world now realize the detrimental effects of trying to save money in the healthcare sector.
To end on a more positive note, this situation, how terrible it may be, has enlightened a new sense of inspiration in me. I have found myself writing a lot more, putting my thoughts to paper or typing endless hours on my computer. In this crisis time, I will try to be positive, and provide positive content. Maybe I’ll write another opinion piece, but for now I want to focus on what makes me happy, and share that as much as I can. I have been more active on my IG stories, and will try to post more on my actual feed, as well as articles on this blog, which I have forsaken too many time before. Also, I got a cat. So stay tuned for cat content. A lot of cat content. She is absolutely adorable. The photos shared in this post were shot during my daily walks and I am happy to have been able to admire the cherry blossoms, even if it wasn’t in the traditional sit-on-a-blue-sheet-under-a-tree-and-drink-until-sundown fashion.
Talk to you soon ♡