6 months... troubled times.
Well here we are at the 6 month stage of our life in Japan. I haven't posted in some time, mainly due to the fact that we have been so busy. I feel though, I should at least make the effort with the unprecedented (in our lifetime) world situation, and catalogue how it directly affects us.
This week we would have been returning home for a few weeks well earned rest and catch-up with family and friends. Instead we are in our apartment in Tokyo, on the verge of a state of emergency, wondering how long it will be before we can be with loved ones again. We are constantly watching for updates from NZ media, trying to ignore the rubbish posted on social media, and like everyone, questioning that those making the decisions on all of our behalves, are really up to the task.
We made the decision, and rightly so I still believe, to stay in Japan instead of heading back a few weeks ago when we had the opportunity. Being back in NZ now would have presented too many challenges with the current state of lockdown. We could have stayed possibly with my father, but not until after two weeks of quarantine, and then we still couldn't see the kids, Pania's parents, (unless we did our lockdown separately), and couldn't catch up with friends.
To further compound things we would not have been able to get back and that would have presented a whole bunch more issues for Pania and her work.
In saying I feel we made the right choice, it's not without question. Pania's mum had a bit of turn yesterday afternoon our time and ended spending the night in hospital. I think we were both questioning at that stage if we had got it right. Fortunately she is home now and feeling better but it has dawned on us how isolated we are at the moment.
Here in Tokyo, as back in NZ they complete the first week of CV lockdown, we have noticed a lot less people on the street. The cherry blossoms have been in full bloom and where the parks and waterways there would normally be crowds, people do seem to be making a show of isolating. We did notice though, that the bars and restaurants seem to still be busy.
The spring weather has been typically changeable. 20degC one day, snowing the next. We got an unexpected dump last week and couldn't resist going out for an explore. I'd forgotten how overrated snow actually is. Give me a sunny day at the beach any day.
We had a big day out on the bike last weekend and although the roads seemed quieter than usual, there were a lot of motorcycles out enjoying the superb weather. We rode from Tokyo and explored around Lakes Sagami and Yamanaka. Outstanding riding with a few stops to admire many of the amazing bikes out and about. Perhaps a little more social distancing may have been in order where there were literally hundreds of bikes and riders congregating in a large park. It's nice to see all the bikes and fellowship, but it is a concern as far as the potential for spreading the dreaded corona.
Many business' now have staff working from home remotely where they can. This includes Pania which is good because it reduces the chances of her spending time with people who have spent significant time on the trains.
Several weeks ago were very lucky to have got a few days in down in Nichinan, just a little down from Miazaki. We hired a car and surfboard down there and stayed in a quaint little motel which had a private thermal onsen for each room. Nichinan, like much of Japan has many wonderful areas to explore. We took the opportunity to do a river hike in the mountains. Time spent out of the city I'm finding is not to be wasted.
It was great catching up with an old friend from many years ago. I first met Ryoko and Harry about 15 years ago when they were in NZ. Ryoko is the cousin of a very good friend of Pania's. Harry is a very good surfer and I drove him out to Raglan while they were staying with us. We've been friends since. It was also fortunate we got down there when we did as locals are now discouraging traveling there due to a few outbreaks. We took the scenic route back to Miazaki and caught a Volcano eruption. You can see our hire car covered in ash.
As I write this it's hard to estimate when the world will get back to normal, or even imagine what the new normal will be. I feel very lucky to have done the travel I have done as there is a possibility that it's going to become more inaccessible in future. Many borders will take time to open. And I imagine depending on where you have been and when, access to certain countries could be problematic. As it is you can't even travel from NZ to Japan. That will need to change before we can go home even to visit.