Sunday, March 29, 2020

COVIDiaries Japan

March 29th saw Tokyo continue its week-long streak of record-breaking confirmations for a single municipality: yesterday's figure of 68 was up from 16 on the 23rd.

Beloved entertainer Shimura Ken (70) is among those who have succumbed to the disease.

The Abe administration is moving to prohibit foreigners entering from China, Korea, and the US.

The full cost of a PCR exam in Japan is either 140 or 180 USD, depending on the ability of the testing facility to analyze the sample. Those enrolled in the national health scheme would normally expect to pay from 10-30% of the total. However, as of March 6 testing is free for those covered by national insurance.      

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVIDiaries Japan: Tokyo Sees Jump

For the third day running, Tokyo has led Japan in new cases of coronavirus, with over 40 confirmed in the capital today, March 25. This is up from 16 on the 23rd and 17 on the 24th. If you are in Tokyo or have seen photos of crowded parks and other public spaces there (and elsewhere in Japan), the news will come as no surprise. Complacency typifies the attitude of many in the country.    

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVIDiaries Japan: A Different Kind of Story

Thirteen- year- old Takimoto Hime, of Yamanashi Prefecture, decided she needed to do something a month ago when she began seeing long lines of customers outside of drug stores hoping to snag a packet or two of masks, then in extremely short supply. In late February she began making masks with cotton and elastic, working as many as 5 hours/ day. On March 17th she visited the prefectural office, where she presented officials with the 612 masks she had made by hand. The cost: 80,000¥, all of it money she had saved over the years from traditional New Year's otoshidama from family and relatives.

Monday, March 23, 2020

COVIDiaries Japan: Back to School

Japanese schools prepare for the start of the new school year in April even as countries such as France announce schools will remain closed until after summer. Indeed, some students in Japan have already returned to their school for extracurricular acivities. The Ministry of Education yesterday released coronavirus-prevention guidelines for schools which included instructions to students and teachers to wear a mask when speaking and to open windows periodically to ventilate classrooms.

COVIDiaries Japan

Several key announcements yesterday by the office of Tokyo governor Koike.

1) Postponement of the Olympics was in the cards (US broadcaster NBC is now saying the Games will be postponed.)

2) A lockdown for the nation's capital in three weeks was a possibility

3) Late in the evening, Tokyo reported 16 new coronavirus cases, the largest one-day tally to date for a single location in Japan.

COVIDiaries Japan: Tokyo Lockdown Possible

Tokyo governor Koike Yuriko announced today that her administration would closely monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Japanese capital during the next three weeks (from 23 March) and that a lockdown of the city would be considered if conditions warranted.

COVIDiaries Japan: Restrictions on Arrrivals from the US

The Abe administration has announced that from 26 March until the end of April, all those arriving from the US will be asked to self-quarantine at home or a tourist accomodation for 14 days and to refrain from using public transport, including taxis, for the duration. The Ministry of Health requests that those to whom this applies make necessary arrangements prior to arrival. The US is the latest addition to a list that includes China, Korea, Iran, Egypt, the Schengen countries and 10 others in Europe.    

Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVIDiaries Japan: Danger of Business as Usual

Niigata Prefecture announced its 26th and 27th confirmed cases on March 21. No. 26, a company employee in his 30s, traveled to Fukuoka and Tokyo (by train) on business from 10-12 March, thereafter returning to his home in Nagaoka, Niigata. The man left again on the 15th, visiting Tokyo (by train) for the day on business. Despite experiencing chills and joint pain, the man traveled to Tokyo (by train) again the following day, returning to Nagaoka on the 17th. He visited a medical clinic that day, where he recorded a fever of 38C. From the following day he stayed home from work. On the 19th, coughing and experiencing diarrhea, he visited another clinic, where he tested negative for the flu.   On the 20th the man visited the city's only hospital capable of administering the PCR exam. The following day a positive result for COVID-19 was announced.

COVIDiaries Japan

Official statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare show that an average of 1,190 PCR tests have been administered daily during March. Daily testing capacity currently stands at 7,500.

To date, 20,228 individuals have been tested, 1086 confirmed, with 40 deaths.

These figures do not include those from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The governor of Tokyo has announced that postponing the Olympics is under consideration after a conference call with the IOC, with a final announcement expected in the next four weeks.  

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Gratitude of the Goose

Once upon a time an old man lived on the shores of Lake Jyusan on the Tsugaru Peninsula of Aomori.

One winter's night the man heard a knocking at his door. Opening it, he beheld a young girl standing in the blowing snow, covered in white from head to foot.

"Oh, my. What are you doing out on a night like this? Do come in."

He stirred up the fire and bad his guest warm herself by the hearth. Looking at the girl more closely, he noticed that one of her feet was bleeding.

"Is your foot hurt?" he inquired.

"Yes, I stepped on a hunter's trap by accident."

"That's rotten luck. Would you like to stay here until it's better?"

"Oh, yes. Thank you ever so much," she replied.

"Look here, dinner's ready. Let's eat."

The old man served the girl a bowl of piping hot fish soup, which she quickly devoured. Then, curling up by the fire, she was soon asleep.

Later that evening, thinking to cover her with a futon for added warmth, the man discovered his visitor was not a young girl but a goose.


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Lake Jyusan, Aomori

Monday, December 16, 2019

Gutsu and the Crow- A Japanese Folktale

Long, long ago, a boy named Gutsu lived in a village with his grandmother. One day, his grandma said, "Gutsu, as today is your late grandfather's death day, we must summon a priest to chant the sutras in his honor. Won't you run along to the neighboring village to ask for the priest there?" "What's a priest?" inquired the little boy, for Gutsu's village did not have a temple. "He's a man who wears a black kimono." "I got it," replied Gutsu. Heading through the rice fields, Gutsu came upon a large crow perched atop a scarecrow- and crows, as everyone knows, are black. "There he is!", exclaimed Gutsu. "Hey you, Mister Monk, hey, come with me," he shouted. The crow, startled, took wing and flew off.  "Where are you going?", Gutsu cried. Running after the crow, the boy soon found himself outside a temple. "Mr. Priest, I know you're in there. Hurry up and come out," whereupon Gutsu found himself face to face with the real thing. "I'm the priest. What do you want?"  "So priests are human," thought Gutsu. Haltingly the boy explained his errand, and the priest accompanied him home. The old woman, who rarely found cause to praise her grandson, did so that day: "Well done, Gutsu. Good boy."