Category Archives: SOCIETY

Lifestyle changes under COVID-19

Office; May 2006

The company Link and Communication, who make an AI health advisor mobile app called Calomama, surveyed their users about mental and physical health changes since the State of Emergency was declared.

I’m working from home, and my walking distance has been reduced from an average of 10,000 steps to about 500 or so. However, it’s been great for my stress levels, even though I find myself doing much more overtime than I did in the office. Due to the wonders of modern technology, I can log into my beefy work PC and do 95% of what I need to do.

Even better, the company has extended work at home for the forseeable future; the target is less than 50% per team commuting, but I think our team is under 10% right now.

Here’s a random Japan home office that is much more exiting than mine:


Research results

Q1: How has your working status changed? (Sample size=6,302)

  Working Not working
Before Corona 85% 15%
After State of Emergency 76% 24%

Note that full time is defined as working more than 6 hours a day, part time is less than 6 hours, and not working is zero hours.

Q2: How has your working status changed since COVID-19? (Sample size=5,356, employed before COVID-19)

  Full time Part time Not working
Before Corona 88% 12% NA
After State of Emergency 72% 16% 11%

Q3: Have you been working at home since the state of emergency was declared? (Sample size=4,748)

  Full time Part time
Work at home 36% 54%
Work on site 64% 45%

Q4: Do you have any mental worries? (Sample size=6,302)

  Yes No
All 44.7% 55.3%
Full time 42.7% 57.3%
Part time 46.3% 53.7%
Out of work 48.9% 51.1%

Q4A: Do you have any mental worries? (Sample size=3,894, full time)

Work from home, hours increased 50.0%
Work from home, hours unchanged 41.6%
Work from home, hours decreased 43.2%
Work on site, hours increased 56.6%
Work on site, hours unchanged 40.4%
Work on site, hours decreased 43.4%
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Can Fukui’s Obama City Draw Visitors with Rural Tourism Alone?

Source: Gaijin Pot
Jinguji Temple in Obama, Fukui.

It’s not looking good for rural Japan. The population will decline to just 88 million by 2065. Villages and towns are disappearing as young people move to live and work in big cities, leaving their homes behind with an aging population. The government has been trying to help by offering tourists alternative rustic or traditional experiences outside Japan’s golden triangle, Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

I recently visited Obama in the Kansai Region’s Fukui Prefecture to see firsthand what rural Japan can offer. It’s one of Japan’s countryside towns vying for a slice of the tourism pie, and recently dialed its efforts to 11 by promoting their history, culture, and the kinds of activities visitors aren’t likely to find if they stick to typical “Top 10” destinations.

What’s in a name?

Photo: Sarah Marchildon
Nailed it.

Obama means “little beach.” You might have noticed it also happens to be the name of 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the town of about 30,000 capitalized on the coincidence with President Obama themed souvenirs such as rice crackers, manju, and “I love Obama” t-shirts.

They expected a tourism boom—quickly erecting crude statues and painting murals of the president around town.

Photo: Zoria Petkoska
Yes, we can buy Obama-manju.

Today, the hype of sharing a name with the president has long passed. You can still find a handful of presidential themed souvenirs in the town’s information center, and the only statue of the president that I could find looked like it stepped out of the ‘80s claymation cartoon Gumby.

That left me asking what is there in Obama besides… President Obama?

The Saba Kaido

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Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020


SK: I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep …continue reading


Reflections of Tokyo During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a Photo Essay

Source: Gaijin Pot
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa during the Coronavirus epidemic in Japan

The streets of Tokyo, one of the world’s most densely-inhabited cities, are known for an unrelenting press of bodies from dawn till dusk. The energy of human activity is tangible, but not since the government politely requested everyone to stay home to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Both tourist spots and local neighborhoods were left deserted with the cacophony of everyday life comparatively silenced.

These photos capture the not-quite-a-lockdown purgatory of pandemic life in Tokyo over the past few months.

Tourist ghost towns

Photo: James Sharpe
Never has the ever-loyal Hachiko been so lonely. Maybe he’s happier without a single tourist to pose for a selfie with him.
Photo: James Sharpe
The practically deserted world-famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
Photo: James Sharpe
Asakusa’s Senso-ji Temple looks quite peaceful sans crowds.
Photo: James Sharpe
One solitary hopeful shop remains open in an empty Senso-ji shopping street.

Life must go on

Photo: James Sharpe
In the midst of an international health emergency, duty-bound workers commute home via the busy Tozai line around 9 p.m.
Photo: James Sharpe
Hungry patrons practice social distancing in the queue for fast food as workers serve them from behind plastic barriers.
Photo: James Sharpe
This normally heaving shop in suburban Tokyo has been left void of activity but for one man who’s just got to get his manga fix.
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Italian and gyoza most wanted nearby chains

Japan has many cheap (and not so cheap) chain restaurants and cafes but I’m sure everyone has a favourite they wish were closer. This was the question goo Ranking asked, which chain restaurant do people most wish would open a new branch nearby them.

I’d vote for Tully’s Coffee (random photo from a snack there attached); I find them very pleasant and with very drinkable coffee and cheap pasta lunches. Unfortunately the nearest one (four train stops away) suddenly closed just before the lockdown.

Even though I live beside an express stop train station, all we have is the greasy Chinese spoon Bamiyan and a privately-owned traditional style coffee shop; a nice Tully’s or similar would improve the neighbourhood no end!

Which chain do you wish was closer?

Ranking result

Rank Style Votes
1 Saizeriya Italian 237
2 Gyoza no Ohsho Gyoza 200
3 Marugame Seimen Udon noodles 170
4 McDonald’s Hamburgers 166
5 Komeda Coffee Coffee 157
6 Starbucks Coffee Coffee-flavoured drinks 146
7 Sushiro Sushi 132
8 Yayoiken Japanese 122
9 Bamiyan Chinese 113
10 Tsukiji Gindako Takoyaki (octopus balls) 104
10 Lucky Pierrot Hamburgers 104
12 Bikkuri Donkey Hamburgers 103
13 Mister Donut Doughnuts 101
14 Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Fried chicken 94
15 Mos Burger Hamburgers 93
16 Tenka Ippin Ramen 92
17 Charcoal-grilled restaurant Sawayaka Hamburgers 90
18 Sushi Zanmai Sushi 89
19 Kura Sushi Sushi 87
20 Ringer Hut Champon ramen 80
21 Burger King Hamburgers 79
22 Otoya Japanese 75
23 Yoshinoya Beef bowls 74
24 Doutor Coffee Shop Coffee 71
24 Subway Sandwiches 71
26 Tendon Tenya Tempura-topped rice bowls 70
27 Curry House CoCo Ichibanya Curry 66
28 Sugakiya Ramen 65
29 Negishi Beef tongue, grated yam and roasted barley rice 64
30 Hama Sushi Sushi 62
31 Matsuya Beef bowl 53
32 Nakau Beef bowl 52
33 White Gyoza Gyoza 50
34 Dom Dom Hamburger Hamburgers 49
35 Hidakaya Ramen 47
36 Gusto Western 46
37 Lotteria Hamburgers 45
38 Kappa Sushi Sushi 43
39 Royal Host Western 42
39 Osaka Ohsho Gyoza 42
39 Capricciosa Italian 42
42 Joyful Western 40
43 Sukiya Beef bowl 39
43 Shakey’s Pizza 39
45 Tully’s Coffee Coffee 38
46 Yomenya Goemon Pasta 37
47 Krispy Kream Donut Doughnuts 34
48 Taco Bell Tacos 33
48 Bakery Restaurant Saint Marc Western 33
50 Katsuya Breaded pork 32
51 Denny’s Western 31
51 Komoro soba Noodles 31
51 Hachiban Ramen Ramen 31
54 Family Dining Yamada Udon Udon noodles 30
54 Seafood Tavern Sakura Fisheries Fish 30
56 Gong Cha Tapioca milk tea 29
57 Yudetaro Soba noodles 28
57 Cocos Western 28
59 Hanamaru Udon Udon noodles 27
60 Jonathan’s Western 26
61 Maido Ookini Cafeteria Western 25
62 Baskin-Robbins 31 Ice Cream Ice cream 24
63 Pepper Lunch Steak 23
64 Hakone Soba Soba noodles 21
65 Wako Breaded pork 18
66 First Kitchen Hamburgers 12
66 The Meshiya Japanese 12
68 Chinese Restaurant Ichibankan Chinese 11
69 Other 95


Between the 29th of January and the 12th of February 2020 4,545 visitors to the goo Ranking site and associated properties completed a public questionnaire. No further demographics were given.

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