Five snapshots of the way things have changed in Japan in the age of the novel coronavirus:

  • As job losses surge due to the pandemic, demand for food handouts has skyrocketed, prompting the government to release stockpiled rice to charities for the first time. But the move comes with the caveat that rice be given only for children, and anti-poverty campaigners are calling for the rules to be eased to feed the elderly, working poor and desperate college students.
  • Let them eat in-flight meals? At a time when many flights have been canceled due to travel restrictions, in-flight meals repurposed as bento boxes are proving popular in Japan. The trend is also helping keep catering firms who depend on airlines afloat until normal airline service is resumed.
Japan's government keeps a stockpile of 1 million tons of rice in warehouses around the country. | KYODO
Japan’s government keeps a stockpile of 1 million tons of rice in warehouses around the country. | KYODO
  • Japan has grudgingly made the shift to what was initially seen as “emergency remote teaching,” but it has been slower to adapt to the new educational normal than countries such as South Korea, writes Robert D. Eldridge. Had it been more experimental with its schooling prior to COVID-19, the disruption would not have been as painful as it has been for all involved, he argues.
  • In his latest Big in Japan column, Mark Schreiber regales readers with stories from the nation’s magazines that capture the viral zeitgeist, with a focus on real estate — from the fate of the huge, empty athletes’ village in Tokyo to big firms hawking their unused office space. And a decidedly retro cinema experience is making a comeback thanks to the coronavirus.
  • With COVID-19 vaccines slowly making their way across the country, it’s an opportune time to administer a shot of new Japanese vocab, writes Haruka Murayama. So, kata no atari made sode o makutte kudasai (please roll up your sleeve to the shoulder) and brace yourself: Chikutto shimasu yo (there will be a slight prick) and that’s it, you’re covered.