It’s Wednesday afternoon and our home is oddly quiet. The usual self-isolation soundtrack of my two young daughters shouting, singing, arguing and laughing as they hula hoop, skip, jump, dance and hop from sunrise to nightfall has been muted.

Instead, the girls, ages 5 and 7, are sitting in silence at a table, creating their very own Joan Miro-inspired paintings during a live online art class — one of a string of virtual activities currently available to children stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Such a moment of calm is as precious as it is unusual in the current "#stayhome" climate of Tokyo — in our household at least. As in countless countries across the globe, it’s a mammoth challenge for many families in Japan to adjust to the closure of schools and nurseries, without the children getting bored, going crazy or turning feral (not to mention the sanity of the grown ups).