The July 26 article “The Japanese balcony gets a rethink amid a pandemic”(headlined “A new appreciation for the balcony” in the print edition) was an interesting story. I have lived in a housing complex for almost 35 years, so this topic is very familiar to me.

The balcony plays two roles; one is as a practical space for drying laundry and airing futon necessary for our daily lives and the other is a relaxing one for reading books or magazines and taking a nap for a while, as shown in the article. In addition, during the coronavirus pandemic, more residents will want to display colorful potted flowers there, to enjoy peace of mind.

However, our veranda is an awful place, since the neighbor downstairs is a chain smoker and the smoke drifts to us upstairs. So, the longer he stays home, the worse our environment is. My husband and I have no choice but to close the windows facing the balcony when he is at home. Such air pollution in the neighborhood has vexed us, non-smokers and anti-smokers.

I couldn’t agree more with the article when it says “basic etiquette should also be taken into consideration.” In contrast, this tobacco user is mindful of his dog’s health while smoking, not considering the residents upstairs at all. All we want now is openness, not closure under the novel coronavirus. We want to savor the natural wind and humidity all year long. How many people suffer neighbors’ smoking and other nuisances at the balcony, while keeping silent and patient? Silence is still golden, right?

Mieko Okabe


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