Well, it’s that time of the month again – where I reflect on the month that has just passed, and try to focus my thoughts on the coming weeks, and indeed the rest of the year. Right now I am sitting in a breezy cafe on the third floor, one that has an open balcony welcoming in the Tokyo sky.
I feel fortunate today, actually, as a quick glance at the date tells me it’s 12 July: a date that may well be lost on anyone who is not from Northern Ireland. Growing up in N.I., the 11th and 12th of July was always a turbulent time: a time when protestants would celebrate the victory of King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. These celebrations, as long as I can remember, have involved huge bonfires, general unrest and rioting. I think it has calmed down in recent years, but as a kid I clearly remember my grandparents essentially being trapped in their house while people rioted at the end of their road, burning out cars and throwing petrol bombs.
* Curious as to whether things actually have changed, I just went on the BBC website and low and behold, people were throwing petrol bombs at the police in North Belfast last night. It’s hard to imagine things ever progressing unless parents wise up and stop passing this sort of behavior on to their kids.
But enough about that. I guess it is pretty small-fry when you consider the rest of the news we have had this year. COVID cases continue, and it’s pretty clear to see that this situation is not ‘going away’ anytime soon. Lockdowns are simply not viable in the long term, and so countries are scrambling to come up with approaches that save lives, as well as their respective economies.
Tokyo itself has seen a surge of new cases in recent days: higher numbers in fact than when the State of Emergency was in full effect. But these numbers are somewhat meaningless now. Test more people and you will get more cases. Test less, and you will get less cases. So you really can’t believe anything. It is up to us all now to just be sensible: mask up when we need to, wash our hands and stay away from situations that pose a threat. Japan has pretty much said it is not shutting down again and for everyone to just get on with things. So what else can we do?
Looking back on my photos from June, it’s clear that we did quite a lot. More than I thought, actually. These photos show a definite shift in social activity: my own school reopening on 01 June, and restaurants getting back into the general swing of things. (As I look around me now, there are about 30 people in this cafe and the streets are busy outside.)
The weather in June was pretty good, the rains not really arriving until the later part of the month – rains that are still here, and that have demolished Kyushu with floods and landslides. Thankfully, Tokyo escaped the brunt of these downpours, only having to experience a steady flow of grey, cloudy days and Irish-esque rainy weather.
Our first real day trip after the Sate of Emergency was lifted was to Enoshima, a pleasant island off the coast of Kamakura. It only takes an hour for us to get there and so we do it now and again, climbing over the island to the other side where there are rocks and waves; scenery that reminds me when I used to search for crabs in rock pools as a kid. It was nice to experience Enoshima without the crowds; and while the lack of international tourism is obviously bad for the economy, for those of us who live here, it is a bit of a blessing.
Now that we are into July, we plan on travelling a bit further afield within Japan this month and next. Hopefully the rainy season will end soon, and summer can well and truly begin. The August humidity is always difficult, but I always prefer the summer over the winter. I guess if I could wear shorts and a tank top all year round, I would.
And so, I guess I should end this post by sharing some photos from June. Thank you all for continuing to follow IKIMASHO – particularly all of you on Facebook who have helped create a wonderful little community there. Only this weekend, I had readers commenting from Ecuador, Honduras and Chile. And tomorrow I will be sending out a few gifts to readers from Philippines and Israel.
Justin / IKIMASHO