• 2022.08.31
  • Covid: What side are you on?
It’s already the middle of August, so you’d think the pandemic would have passed its peak by now—but things still haven’t settled down.
According to my father’s physician, who stops by to make at-home visits, healthcare facilities are still under intense strain.

I mentioned this last time, but it seems like there’s a tendency to shame people who get infected in Japan—which naturally means that they end up hiding it and probably avoid getting tested. Even if a friend tests positive and lets you know you’ve had close contact, there’s no easy way to find out if you’ve actually been infected.
So people start descending on clinics to get tested even if they don’t have any symptoms, terrified that they might have Covid—clogging the system and preventing healthcare workers from helping the people who could have been saved. It’s unfortunate.

It makes me wonder how long this mess can go on.

In general, Japanese people let themselves get caught up in what the media tells them. Doesn’t it seem like the media is a bit too obsessed with pandemic news?
It’s long been said that Japanese people understand subtle energy—that they’re spiritually sensitive or have refined sensibilities. The media then picked up on this, so people start worrying about what others think and get swept up in what everyone else is doing, which is probably why they tend to swallow whatever information is put in front of them.
When did people lose their ability to directly experience things, trust their gut, or read the writing on the wall?

The world has become polarized into two camps: those who worry about Covid, and those who don’t.
The average person doesn’t want to spread the virus if they get it, so it’s not really accurate to say that they’re not worried about it. It’s less problematic to describe the divide as those who are fearful of Covid and those who aren’t, or those who are willing to give up their freedoms to prevent it, and those who aren’t.
Of course, it’s ridiculous to imply that these are black-and-white divisions, but I think society is responsible for the halfway measures and vague information—not to mention coddling people.

In Portugal, for example, you can buy cheap Covid test kits at any supermarket or drugstore. At one point the drugstores were offering people four free Covid tests a month. Being able to get tested once a week free of charge made it possible to catch infections early (setting aside the fact that the antigen kits aren’t perfectly accurate).

Just because you drop mask mandates doesn’t mean people can’t wear masks, and people can decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated. If a person is uncomfortable seeing others without masks, they can mask up themselves—and if they’re not comfortable with the usual greeting kiss, they can get by with a high-five. Above all, regardless of whether it’s Covid or not, obviously stay home if you don’t feel well.

No matter what the situation, the important thing is for everyone to know themselves well and take personal responsibility. If more people just took responsibility for their own behavior, I think people’s discomfort would naturally be alleviated.

Switching topics, we got to do something incredible during our stay in Japan.
With so many people staying home because of the pandemic hubbub, Tokyo turned into a sightseeing paradise. When we went to Disney Land, the kids got to ride Space Mountain nine times and get on the other rides without long lines. Even the staff called it a miracle day.

Relaxing on the Tokyo Cruise

There were so few people on the usually-clogged Asakusa shopping street that you could see from the famous Kaminarimon Gate clear down to Asakusa Temple. The water taxi to Odaiba was so empty that we could even stretch out on the couches.
Takeshita Street in Harajuku also felt deserted. It typically takes about two hours to see everything in the exhibitions, but we essentially had private showings of them, so we were able to do it in about thirty minutes.
The times we set aside for our trip were completely off, but I’m grateful to the pandemic for the way it allowed us to stretch our legs and cruise through Tokyo without any of the crowds.

Like a private exhibition

Posing endlessly with the usually-thronged Hachiko statue


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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