‘Tis the season to be jolly, they say, but that may be proving to be a problem with nasty old COVID still lurking in the background this Yuletide and New Year. With an eye on the end of 2020, here are some ways year-end traditions are responding and adapting to the pandemic in Japan:

  • And the kanji character for the year is … a word used repeatedly in calls to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus over the past 12 months. No surprises there, then. If we give you the hint “san,” you should be able to get it if you’ve been reading T5 regularly. Which you have, of course.
  • To think that at the start of the year, we all expected that many of 2020’s Japanese buzzwords would be related to the Olympics. Oh dear. In the Bilingual section, Haruka Murayama takes readers through all the coronavirus jargon (and other stuff) that made it into the 2020 New Words and Buzzwords Awards.
And this year's kanji is … (Japanese) | TBS NEWS
And this year’s kanji is … (Japanese) | TBS NEWS
  • Staying home for Christmas doesn’t have to equate with being bored and lonely, insists Kaori Shoji in the Japan Pulse column. Read on to find out how Japanese are making the most of the cards they have been dealt by the virus this festive season — scaling down events, making their own fun and blowing lots of cash on pricey treats.
  • As reported here earlier, for a mere ¥1 million (before tax) you can wear a real diamond-encrusted mask from Tokyo Design Channel. Whatever next? Well, reports Samuel Thomas in On:Fashion, how about subtle gold mask jewelry to decorate your covering du jour? It’s all for a good cause (well, 10% of it is).
  • And finally, it’s official: The imperial family’s early January public appearance has been canceled due to fears over the spread of COVID-19. Members of the imperial family traditionally greet well-wishers from a balcony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Jan. 2 and the emperor reads a message to the nation. But this time, the message to the nation will be prerecorded on video and broadcast nationwide.