So, it’s March 2021 – a full year after Tokyo’s first State of Emergency was introduced, and we are currently in another one, the city’s third if I’m not mistaken. Actually, the word ‘Emergency’ is pretty misleading, especially in Japan’s case. Yes, bars and karaoke parlors are closed after 8pm, but besides that it’s pretty much business as usual here. All the shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, museums are open, and my regular breakfast spot was busy this morning. I believe because we never fully locked down – and because the death count is relatively low here – people in Japan don’t view the pandemic with the same sense of emergency as other countries.
The rescheduled Olympics continues to dominate the news around the world. Foreign spectators won’t be allowed, and yet the International Olympic Committee is still pushing for overseas visitors to attend stating that it will send a ‘negative image’ if they don’t. It’s ridiculous. If this pandemic has proven anything, it is that the Olympics is 100% about money and lining the pockets of sponsors. At this stage, it has very little to do with celebrating athletic ability. The fact that they are still determined to hold such a large-scale event in the current climate is unfathomable. It just feels wrong.
I didn’t actually mean to go off on an Olympic rant – it doesn’t directly affect me so much. But last week saw the tenth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and it’s sad to think that the Tohoku region still needs a lot of money to rebuild, yet people seem to be more concerned about investing in a sporting event.
Life for me in Tokyo is busy enough. I got offered a new position at work starting next month, so that will mean more work and responsibility. I will try my best! Mrs IKIMASHO and I will also travel up to Tochigi prefecture in a few weeks to work with a hotel there, so that is something to look forward to. It already feels like this year will pass by very quickly, so I’m conscious of just trying to stay in the moment, as difficult as it can sometimes be.
Do you know the Japanese word, natsukashii? It’s a word used when something evokes a fond memory from your past, like hearing a childhood song, or discovering an old concert ticket stub. I had a few nice natsukashii memories this month, mainly related to places. I visited a small station called Shimotakaido on the Keio line for a walk about. When I first moved to Tokyo in 2012 I had to pass this station every day on my way to work, and so it was strange to be back. It made me think of my journey in Japan up until now – changing jobs, meeting my wife, making a life here. I also had a natsukashii moment while walking about Kagurazaka. I went there on my third date with Mrs IKIMASHO (somehow she remembers these things) and we ended up walking down a random set of steps that I distinctly remembered. It’s funny the type of memories that your brain chooses to retrain.
Yesterday there was a horrendous storm in Tokyo. It was the second time this month that a storm came out of nowhere. Usually the meteorological agency are pretty on top of things and give lots of warnings but I guess they didn’t see that much rain coming either. It bucketed down solid for about five hours, and our supermarket got flooded. As is always the case though, the calm comes after the storm and right now the skies are blue. Which reminds me (how could I forget) that we had a big earthquake in February. It was the biggest I have experienced here (I wasn’t here for the 2011 one) and the walls were shaking as if they were made of paper. I am so used to small earthquakes now – usually I just look up from whatever I’m doing and wait until it passes, then go back to it. But this one felt different and went on for much longer. It made me realise (once again) that I really should have a backpack prepared with essentials/documents/money etc in case another big one hits.
Here are some of my favourite pics from last month, as well as some random ones to give you a feel of what life is like in Tokyo. Thank you always for following and reading – and can you believe it, we are now 40,000 strong on Facebook. Have a great month, everyone!
Justin / IKIMASHO x