Tokyo

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The second year of the Reiwa period began with a nightmare. More precisely, at the beginning of the year, nobody could predict what would be going on just two months later. I am talking about what the entire world is fighting against—COVID-19.

The coronavirus outbreak has been an urgent global issue. It was just the case of people in a limited area of a particular country, or poor, rich travelers within a trapped gorgeous cruise ship in February. Only a few weeks later, however, it became the case relevant in most parts of the world. Now the situation is changing day by day. For days, thousands of people around the world have been newly hospitalized due to this disease. More than 10,000 patients have died from it in China, Japan, Iran, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the United States, and more.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic. Lockdown is underway in many cities and even nationwide in some countries. Going out for non-essential reasons is banned or discouraged. People are forced to stay home and keep six feet away from others so as not to be six feet under.

The lockdown has had a massive impact on the world economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by around 1,000 points this month with circuit breakers taking effect many times. The share price of Boeing has become less than a third for weeks. This financial crisis is even worse than those in the great depression in 1929.

That is true with Japan. Here in Tokyo, the governor stated that lockdown in Tokyo is likely because patients tested positive are increasing every day by more than the number of cases a day before. She requested Tokyoites for being home this weekend except for essential business.

People in Japan look afraid of a state of emergency being declared and lockdown being issued. I hate to say that, but I’m sure that these will be near. I think lockdown orders will be released in weeks or even in days because we see other civilized countries being already like this.

Lockdown being inevitable, how should we do? Most people will be forced to stay away from their workplaces, such as offices, farms, fishing grounds, milk plants, and factories. Then it is likely to run short of various things needed for daily life. As a result, the production of foods and groceries will be severely restricted.

Once supply cease, panic buying is likely to take place. This action must be blamed as antisocial behavior since not all households have enough money or means to get what they need. It will be difficult to supply daily necessities if panic buying occurs, because the distribution system will be burdened more than usual, and the distribution of domestic inventory will be unfair. Participating in such panic buying is nothing but not only exposing your low awareness of social solidarity, that is, lack of knowledge that society will not be established if we do our own things, but also proving that you have neglected to be prepared and save in case of an emergency.

We have no choice but to secure the needed supplies for the time being before lockdown takes effect. It would help us a lot to find out what people in countries where lockdown is already in place are doing.

This experience gives us the following important suggestions and lessons: the fact that even the most rights-sensitive liberal nations can easily and quickly control individual’s rights and freedom before the impending crisis. It means that, once an emergency happens, the rights of individuals are insignificant and vulnerable.

What is happening in front of us now seems like a dry run exercise for the third world war. I think it is likely to occur in the coming decades because it is a very similar situation where a big earthquake occurred in 1923, the world financial crisis in 1929, and WWII 12 years later. Likewise, the big earthquake and tsunami happened in 2011, and the economic crisis derived from the coronavirus epidemic eight years later. Now the world is divided. Each country is isolated and closing its borders. How many years is left for us to see those countries to collide?

The time is right to be prepared for in the future. Divide your assets into some pieces and save them in different countries. If possible, have multiple places to live and jobs in two or more countries. Having as many life options as possible will save you in this volatile future with many uncertainties.

Apologies for not updating my blog since I did on the first day of this year. I’m usually on Facebook these days.

One of what I did this year is that I moved out of my house at Fukagawa. The rental contract was expiring at the end of July, and I had to choose whether I renewed it to keep living there or terminated it and found a new house. I decided to move to another place. I lived there for four years and was satisfied with life there, but at the same time, I thought I should change my life to change myself.

I found a new house at Oji, about 10km north of Tokyo’s city centre. This neighbourhood is a beautiful area developed in the 14th century, with its fresh verdure and sometimes called “Richmond in Japan” because people in central Tokyo often have made a one-day trip to this area since the Edo Era, similar to holiday-makers in London who visit Richmond.

I, together with my car, removed to the new house in the middle of July. Monthly fees for the house and the garage dropped comparing with the ones at Fukagawa, which was closer to the city centre. It’s more than three months since the removal, and the new life here is very nice.

Oji shrine Oji shrine Oji shrine
Nanushi-no-taki park Asukayama Park

Kiba Park is within a few minutes’ walk from my house. Various events are performed almost every week.

Mikoshi parade

Two weeks ago there was Oedo mikoshi matsuri (mikoshi festival) with tens of mikoshis.

Performance by Women's Guard of Honor Brass and Percussion Corps of ALSOK
Talk show with Mikako Kotani and Koto Ward Governor

And, Koto Kumin Matsuri (Koto Ward citizens’ festival) was hold last weekend. There were many booths where staff members sold foods and items from all over the nation as well as foreign countries life Philippines, Bangladesh, Peru and more.

The Kiba-no-kakunori show The Kiba-no-kakunori show The Kiba-no-kakunori show The Kiba-no-kakunori show The Kiba-no-kakunori show The Kiba-no-kakunori show

The Kiba-no-kakunori (riding-on-a-square-timber) show is Kiba neighborhood’s traditional acrobatics.

Fukagawa strong man show Fukagawa strong man show

This is Fukagawa no chikaramochi (Fukagawa strong man show). It’s one of Fukagawa area’s traditional entertainments. Expert can do like this:

Fukagawa strong man show

Last month I was very busy with moving out of my house at Nerima-ku, Tokyo, because I had thrown my own car in May and I wanted to live where it was closer to downtown Tokyo and more convenient to live with public transportation only. As I got a bonus in June and I had enough money to move out, it was time for action.

The new apartment where I started to live is at the Fukagawa area, Koto-ku. It's been a renowned neighborhood for almost 400 years located only within 5km east from Tokyo station. Plus, according to Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's web site, these areas have relatively lower crime rates than other major areas of Tokyo. It's 22 sq. meters wide with 1 bedroom+kitchen+bathroom. Its monthly cost is 90,000 yen. It's more expensive than that of the apartment where I'd lived before, but totally I have to pay monthly as much money for the new house as for my former one, because now I don't have to pay for parking lot anymore!

I got a key of the new apartment on August 1 and had all of my luggage and furtiture moved into it on August 3. For the first few days I felt uneasy as if I had stayed in a hotel room, but living for one week I feel to be accostomed day by day. The next thing I want to do would be to buy curtains, a brand new mattress, a tall bookshelf, a chest with drawers, and more, to make my rooms more comfortable.

Japan is turning into a really sick country. According to media, a 25-year-old man this afternoon hit the people walking on the streets at Akihabara with his truck, jumped out of it and stabbed the people there at random with his survival knife, causing death to as many as seven people until now. The killer was arrested on the spot, saying he was "sick of life" and wanted to kill whomever he saw.
CNN.com: At least 7 dead in Tokyo stabbing spree
Japan Probe: Stabbing rampage in Akihabara: 7 people killed

Similar attacks have happened increasingly for years. On the same day of 2001, Mamoru Takuma broke into elementary school classrooms and stabbed eight students to death in Osaka. Two months ago a young man suddenly attacked the people walking around the railroad station, killing one and injuring many. Wherever you are, you can be a victim of such kind of crimes here, because this country has plenty of such kind of "sick-of-life" young people with no hope for the future, and such people may cause such kind of stabbing sprees to strangers or kill themselves with hydrogen sulfide.

I wonder if it is the best choice or not for me to keep living in this sick country. If I were more skilled in English and business skills and I had more money, I could move to the U.S. or another better country and settle there, rather than being scared of crimes happening every day.

Neritan_Anime_Project.jpgThe town of Nerima, Tokyo, where I live for seven years, is home to Japanese animation, or anime. Nerima has had one of the biggest anime studios, Toei Animation Company, as well as more than 90 intensive anime-related companies since Japan’s first anime film was aired in 1958. World’s famous animes such as Dragon Ball series, One Piece, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Sailor Moon series, has been created in this place.

The Nerima Ward government hosted today an anime festival, Neritan Anime Project in Oizumi, around Oizumi Gakuen station of Seibu Railway, to which Toei Animation Company is close. Leiji Matsumoto, one of Japan’s famous manga-anime artists and a resident of the Oizumi neighborhood, was invited to the festival. One of his works, the Galaxy Express 999, was a great anime series popular among many Japanese kids in 1980s. For those of you who don’t know this manga, the story of it is set in a space-faring, high-tech future, where mechanized people with “machine bodies” are pushing humanity towards irrelevance and extinction. A street urchin, Tetsuro, wants an indestructible machine body, giving him the ability to live forever. While machine bodies are expensive, they are supposedly given away for free on the planet Andromeda, the end of the line for the space train Galaxy Express 999. He meets up with a beautiful woman, Maetel, who is the spitting image of his dead mother. Maetel offers him passage on 999 if he will be her traveling companion. Tetsuro agrees. Another notable character is the strict, mysterious alien conductor, that sometimes gets involved in Tetsuro and Maetel’s adventures. (See Wikipedia) The Galaxy Express 999 was first published in 1978, so this year is the 30th anniversary.

Today Matsumoto was appointed a “one-day station master” of Oizumi Gakuen station. He settled near the station when he was 25 years old, and created the wonderful manga and anime works in Oizumi. The ward government and the Seibu Railway company granted such a honorary position on him for his long-year contribution to this neighborhood.

Leiji Matsumoto making a speech

He said through his speech, that his habitation in the Oizumi neighborhood was destiny. When he came to Tokyo from his birthplace, Fukuoka, he just “happened to” start living there. One day when he walked around his house he found a former resident of Tomitaro Makino, a Japan’s well-known botanist. At that time he began his manga artist career through his first work focusing on entomology. Matsumoto felt as if he had been lead to live near Makino, as a person working with wildlife.

When it comes to destiny, I happened to begin reading his Galaxy Express 999 comic books just two weeks ago as well as Emma, when I did not know about this festival. I think that perhaps it is also destiny that I read this comic these days and come to the festival today.

Anime is now not only a maniac hobby by otakus, geeks or nerds, but is one of Japan’s important industries today. As Japan’s economy has been in recession for many decades and its technology is becoming less cost-effective, anime industry may be a great messiah for the future Japanese people.

Some of the pictures are uploaded on Flickr.