Tokyo life now - April 2021



2021.04.08 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

The last time I made a post on the current situation in Tokyo was in January. It has been almost three months since then, and the COVID-19 situation in Tokyo has been changing day by day.

The situation seemed to have improved since my last post. As a result of the government declaring a state of emergency (which had included Tokyo) in early January, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases dropped to around 300 to 400 by mid-February. This figure has continued to stabilize after that without any significant increase in the number of new cases. On February 17th, the vaccination of healthcare workers against COVID-19 started. On March 21st, the state of emergency was lifted.

At the same time, there are concerns that there may be another wave of infections once people let their guard against COVID-19 down. One reason for this is the large number of events that are typically held from the end of March to early April in Japan where many people would gather. For instance, it is now the cherry blossom viewing season in Japan. Before COVID-19 hit, many people would visit the best spots to enjoy the wonderful sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom and party under the trees. This year, the cherry blossom trees in Ueno Park will only be available for viewing via a one-way route. Other parks in Tokyo that are famous cherry blossom spots are also restricting the areas open to the public as compared to previous years and setting up signs that ask people to stay at home instead. Tokyo Governor Koike has also asked people to refrain from organizing banquets during the cherry blossom viewing season.

Also, the new school year begins in Japan in April. A survey conducted by a newspaper found that 60% of universities in the Tokyo metropolitan area indicated that they would be mainly holding face-to-face classes in the new semester. This is a huge change from last fall, where 56% of universities indicated that they would mainly hold online classes. However, even as face-to-face classes start to be held, there is no doubt that safety precautions against COVID-19, such as social distancing and the wearing of masks, will continue to be taken.

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