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Japan Diary

Change of Tune

By March 23, 2020May 21st, 2020No Comments
Change of Tune

I have a whole slew of posts that I have written that I wanted to begin posting in the next few days.

  1. On Becoming Italian
  2. The Orgasmic Announcer
  3. Playing Chicken with a Crow
  4. Untitled – Interview with a personal trainer on health during this time

I will hold off and want to talk a little about my experience today being out and about in Tokyo, then leave you with a link to an article that sums up what I had written about in my previous post, (Social Distancing. Non-Existing) and why I am now beginning to change my tune.

My day started with a morning train ride to central Tokyo. These days I usually ride my bike to avoid the trains for obvious reasons, but it was raining. I waited a little past 9:00 am in hopes that the rush hour crowds would dwindle. There has been far fewer commuters since the beginning of the spread of the virus. To my surprise the two trains that I took, a total of 45 minutes, were both packed as if there was nothing going on.

While on the train I was listening to a Making Sense with Sam Harris podcast. He was interviewing disease specialists and talking about how serious the spread of this virus is and why the near draconian measures are being put in place. I had done a lot of reading and kept up on the news, but I respect Sam Harris’ scientific and meditation practioner background. He brings a level headed, fact based approach to any topic. He is not an alarmist and what he had to say in effect was alarming.

Picture me standing on the train barely to move, a buffet for the corona virus to work its way through infecting anyone and everyone within vicinity. I admit I let my creative mind get the best of me as it can do.

After arriving at my personal trainer’s gym, he talked me off the ledge and I calmed down. After the gym, I took another less crowded train, thankfully, and went to Yokohama (the location of the first infected ship) where low and behold everywhere you went there were people. I am not talking a few, but many, everywhere, even after rush hour.

It was then that I realized I am one of those people. I had already made plans to meet a friend for dinner, and kept those plans. On my return trip home, of course it was just as packed as it was in the morning. And to top it off a guy standing just in front of me sneezed two of the biggest sneezes I have ever heard. Thankfully he was wearing a mask to keep the death spray at bay. I thought to myself, “FFS, couldn’t he have waited for the train door to open and stepping out into the open platform?”

After arriving at my station and to the safety of open air and free from the worries that plagued me on the train, I vowed that this would be the last day that I take the train and will be riding my bike, something I already love to do.

I have attached a link below to an article from the Japan Times online newspaper that talks about some of what I had previously written, expanding further with a few other potential scenarios that could occur in Japan. With time on your hands at home, I encourage you to listen to the above three most recent Sam Harris podcasts and the Japan Times article.

Japan Times Online article

Upon reflecting on the day, I have come to the conclusion it is better to overplay it safe. While some of the social mores I wrote about may factor in less infections so far, there is still a complacency in the populace to the reality of the situation worldwide and the potential for it to happen here.

During dinner at the restaurant with my friend, looking around at all the people smiling, laughing, drinking and not sitting within an acceptable social distance, I felt guilty that there are others in the world unable to do what we are doing for nobody knows how long. It was then that I also decided that it is a moral and ethical responsibility as part of a global community to adhere to some of the same rules our global citizens are doing to stave off the spread of infection.

Please be safe, practice good hygiene, don’t hoard, take care of one another and know that from my family and friends here in Japan, our hearts go out to each and every one of you who have taken the time to read this and are home bound and worried.

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