From Tokyo with Love: May 2020


As I sit at my dining room table, my fingers pattering away on the keyboard, the rain is falling in sync outside. Despite this being a little round-up of photos from May, it is already mid-June, such is my perception of time at the minute. What month is it? Are we really already half-way through the year?

The State of Emergency has ended in Tokyo. Daily life has resumed, albeit at a slightly slower pace, and with the unsettling residue of COVID-19 clearly visible on the streets; the entire population of the city seemingly wearing masks, not so much embracing the ‘new normal’ (I hate that term) but simply accepting it. Airports are still shut. International travel seems like a fantastically absurd concept, one which we all took for granted as little as six months ago. As things stand, if I left Japan today, I would be refused entry again tomorrow.

It is becoming clear to me now that the after-effects of this pandemic will be long-lasting, and affect us all in so many ways. As a kindergarten teacher, I have grown accustomed to wearing a mask seven hours a day, but when it was suggested by our school last week that teachers may have to wear full face shields, it was at that moment it really clicked that life probably won’t fully go back to ‘normal’ for a very long time.

It’s a well-known fact of human existence that life can change in an instant. Breaking your leg, the death of a loved one; one minute things are rosy, yet within a few seconds everything can change. This pandemic has shown us all how fragile humanity really is, and while it isn’t exactly pleasant to think about, it now seems perfectly plausible (even likely?) that a virus could potentially wipe out the entire human race at some point in the future.

And yet, in stark contrast to the insanity being played out across the world right now, daily life within my own little bubble goes on. The sky is still blue, and the flowers still bloom. The vegetable shop at the end of the road is still open, and the streets are calm. It is a truly bizarre year in human history, but I feel very fortunate that I am able to drown out the madness simply by walking around these quiet suburban neighbourhoods.

train passing street neighbourhood suburbs tokyo japan

A train rolls gently by, people waiting patiently in the sun.

Tokyo suburbs Setagaya strets

X marks the spot

Yakumo shrine tokyo peaceful

Quiet stillness in Yakumo

small street shrine tokyo japan neighbourhood

A devoted little shrine watches over his quiet street

Barber shop cute tokyo japan

One cute barbershop…

barbershop cute tokyo japan

Meets another! On the surface, Tokyo can be quite an ugly and gaudy city – I mean look at those pastel colours and the horrible building design. And yet it all comes together to form something super quaint.

beautiful temple grounds tokyo japan

Early summer and a canopy of green

sun and leaves emple tokyo japan

Sun twinkling through the leaves

cycling tokyo quaint

A photo opportunity around every corner

Shotengai busy Tokyo

One of Tokyo’s many shotengais – covered shopping arcades that seem to stretch on forever. This was the weekend after the State of Emergency was lifted and there were just too many people for our liking.

Tokyo suburbs beautiful dusk

Peaceful refuge at dusk

Tokyo suburbs setagaya dusk

The end of another day

Fruit and vegeable shop tokyo


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  1. Lorraine WILSON

    Hello. I am pleased to hear you are well. I always enjoy reading your posts. It’s hard to believe that things have changed so dramatically for us all in the course of a few months. Here in Wales we are still in partial lockdown so travel is on hold. Stay safe.

  2. Thank you so much, Lorraine. I have been blogging a bit less lately since I devote quite a bit of time to the daily facebook page, but I’m glad you are still reading on here and I will of course continue to post!

  3. Jerome B.

    Gosh I miss Tokyo… I can only say thank you for your blog, every time I read your posts I’m back there for a few minutes… (Your photos somehow translate perfectly this very particular atmosphere of the Tokyo I visited, the everyday life one with all the random streets, shops and restaurants, the less touristy bit). Particularly now that, like you said, there’s so much uncertainty about so many things, including taking a plane to another country… Hope you’ll be able to go back to Northern Ireland or travel around Asia in a near future if you wish.

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