Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Relaxing Restrictions

Friday, May 15th, 2020

The state of emergency is being lifted for many parts of Japan. It will remain in place here in Tokyo, but it’s due to be lifted at the end of the month. I’m still not sure how I feel about how we are dealing with the coronavirus in Japan. We are testing at a much lower rate than many countries but the number of people dying is also much lower. Currently that number is 713. And that’s in total since the middle of January, not a daily rate which is what it sounds like when I am talking to my overseas family who are in places where hundreds of people are still dying each day.

Here the lockdown has been much softer than many places. The main focus has been on tracking down clusters – giving us the phrase cluster busters. And to avoid the “Three Cs”.

Explanation of the Three Cs

We have also been given guidelines on how to properly wash our hands, coughing manners, and how to wear masks correctly. Cloth masks are being sent out to every household. We have received our two masks, but not everyone I know has gotten these yet.

Government Guidance to Prevent Infectious Disease Spread

I do not like wearing masks. At the minute it’s 82F (28C) outside and I find it harder to breath with a mask on. The Japanese government is already sending out warnings about what it means to do things in hot weather wearing a mask. But when I look at how awful the situation is in other big cities, like New York, I’m going to put up with wearing a mask as it does seem to be helping to prevent the spread of the disease in Tokyo.

Moderate Changes

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Just over a month ago I wrote about the small changes that were being made to life in Tokyo. Today things are much more uncertain. The schools are closed, museums and theme parks are closed, many more people are working from home, and there are shortages on papers products and hand sanitizers.

I have had to suspend my studies as I have no students to teach in March. The Youth Theatre program I work for has cancelled classes, and I keep having to reschedule rehearsals. I am working on a show that has a cast of 35 people, but we can no longer have that number of people in our rehearsal space, and some of the bigger spaces are run by the local government and have been closing. My freelance work is greatly reduced and I only have one day of recording work this month.

We can still buy most things at the local supermarket, but there has been no toilet paper, tissues, masks, or hand sanitizer for quite a while now. There are also changes in how things are displayed. We used to have a bakery section where the bread rolls were displayed in a basket, and the cabinets were full of fresh pastries. Now every individual pastry is in a plastic bag.

I have been doing my best to avoid traveling on busy trains, but sometimes I still need to do this. I have been hearing that there are fewer people on the trains, but given how full Japanese trains get it’s not possible to stay a metre away from other people. And if I walk to places I still end up walking through crowds, and some evenings these are crowds of thousands of people as I need to walk through areas like Shinjuku.

The building I live in has closed most of its communal areas, and the gym is closed. There are signs in the lift showing good coughing etiquette and how to properly wear a mask. There is an alcohol spray at the doors and signs about keeping your hands clean

COVID-19 does not appear to be spreading as fast in Japan as it has in South Korea, but then the two countries have very different testing criteria. By the 10th March Japan had only carried out 9,600 tests, compared to South Korea which had carried out nearly 200,000 tests. (I tried to link to the Japanese website that listed the figures, but they have been overwriting the page with new reports, and the new charts no longer show number of tests, just the number of positive results.) The government tell us everything is improving and that the Olympics will go ahead, but the cases of COVID-19 still increase and I’m starting to see articles about hospitals being under pressure and not easily able to deal with the outbreak. We are expecting to hear more from the government on the 19th March, and it will be interesting to see if the current restrictions are lifted or if we start to fall in line with the rest of the world.

July Weather

Friday, July 27th, 2018

July has been a month of horrible heat.

“At least 65 people have died in the blistering heat since early July, but the actual figure is thought to be much higher. 

More than 22,000 people have been taken to hospitals with heat-stroke symptoms, Japanese officials said. In the city of Kumagaya, temperatures soared to 106 degrees on Monday, the highest temperature ever reported in the country and nearly 12 degrees hotter than average July temperatures. In Tokyo, the heat reached 104 degrees.”

I have been doing my best to stay inside as much as possible during the last couple of weeks, or only going outside when the sun is down.  It’s a little cooler today, but then typhoon Jongdari is on the way.

Afternoon Trip

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Yesterday afternoon we hired a car and went to one of the outlet malls outside Tokyo.  We really liked the Mitsui Outlet Park, but were more excited by the drive.  To get there we drove through the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line. It is a 15 kilometer long bridge-tunnel across Tokyo Bay that connects Kawasaki to Kisarazu. 9.6 km are under the bay, making it the fourth longest underwater tunnel in the world.

Route, showing the Aqua Line

Route, showing the Aqua Line

It is not cheap to use. As we used it on the weekend we were charged 800 円 (5.43 GBP) each way. During the week that would be closer to 3,000 円 (20 GBP) each way. We found it fascinating, and the part that is a bridge is beautiful as you just don’t expect to come out of tunnel on to a bridge that is out in the sea.

Tooth Pain

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

I have had a crack in one of my back molars for years.  This didn’t seem to be causing a problem but my dentist told me that it needed to be capped and not just filled.  At the start of that appointment my tooth wasn’t sore, but once the dentist had finished exploring with a drill that was no longer true.  He also wasn’t able to cap the tooth as he suspected I need a root canal treatment.

Having the root canal took two appointments with an endodontist as I apparently have tiny narrow bendy root canals that needed widened.  It was not a pleasant experience.  My mouth is small, my teeth are large, and my jaw doesn’t stay open wide enough.  It involved having a block jammed into my mouth to keep it open, and lots of drills and long pointing things.  The worst part is not the pain, it’s not knowing what is happening or how long it will take.  There are so many scary looking instruments and the smell of burning didn’t help.  The anesthetic also made me feel shaky and queasy.

Now I need to arrange more appointments to have the cap put on.  The endodentist suggested that I leave it for a week to give myself a break from mouth pain.

Tambara Lavender Park

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

We took a day trip to Gunma Prefecture to visit a lavender park. I was really impressed with what frozen things do in summer.

Tambara Lavender Park, Ski Slope in Summer

Tambara Lavender Park, Ski Slope in Summer

Tambara Lavender Park

Busy Month

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

A few unexpected things have happened this month that have taken me away from my computer.  Now that I’m trying to get back to a routine I’m having problems with a tooth.  I went to the dentist with a crack in a back molar that will take 5 visits to the dentist to fix.  I haven’t met a person who likes having dental work done so you won’t be surprised when I say that I’m not enjoying it.  At least I’m being given strong painkillers.

I have been getting more involved with English theatre in Tokyo over the past year.  Black Stripe Theater is putting on The Dresser, by Ronald Harwood, in September and I’m working on the costumes for that.  Tokyo is not the easiest place to find clothing suitable for a play set in 1941 in Britain, but I’m enjoying the challenge.


Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Tonight we went to see the fireworks on the Sumida River.  In the past we have tried to find somewhere to sit but that takes a lot of preparation.  This year we decided to walk along the river during the display.  Even though there were tens of thousands of people outside there was still a route that was clear.  We ended up with a better view than we had in the past and we got to exercise.


Thursday, July 28th, 2016

My first lunch time back in Tokyo and I had to resist buying far too much sushi.  I miss it when I travel.  I sometimes buy it in other countries but it’s not the same.  I worry about eating sushi in places far from the sea, or in places where raw fish isn’t commonly eaten, so I tend to buy rolls that contain vegetables or cooked fish. But never avocado as I can’t stand the green mushy stuff and hate that American sushi chefs are fascinated with it.

I did get a shock in a Japanese restaurant in Florida as they served an “Atom Bomb Roll”.  This horrifyingly named roll contained salmon and spiced tuna.  I can’t imagine that anyone Japanese was involved in that restaurant.  Oddly named sushi seemed to be a theme as they also had a “Beauty and the Beast Roll” that contained tuna, eel, crab, avocado, and cream cheese, which sounds disgusting.   Thankfully today’s sushi was amazing.

Back Home

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

I’m really pleased to be back home. But there is one thing that I really didn’t miss…

5.3 Quake in Ibaraki

5.3 Quake in Ibaraki

… my apartment block jerking and swaying.