April is approaching and with it comes the start of the new school year. Ordinarily, this would be a time for ceremonies replete with tears and smartphone-captured sentimentality. In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, however, even such small-scale public gatherings are less visible.

One of my Japanese students, the mother of a toddler who will be graduating from kindergarten this March, admitted to finding a silver lining to the otherwise terrifying contagion. She no longer has to organize the “mama’s dance” at her son’s kindergarten. She had been spending numerous Saturdays practicing the sōranbushi, a traditional folk dance from Hokkaido, because she “won” a lottery draw to lead a dance troupe of mothers corralled into putting on a show.

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