Mar 30

WIT Life #340: Coronavirus in Japan

Written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03), WIT Life is a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

Hello from day #? of coronavirus quarantine. Hope everyone is staying safe by hunkering down and practicing self-care. The news of legendary Japanese comedian Ken Shimura’s death from coronavirus was a shock to the entire nation. Some say this is what might be needed to awaken the populace to the potential danger that this pandemic brings.

Japan’s coronavirus mascot Quaran

So far infection rates in Japan have been very low. One reason may be a lack of testing, which many think was due to an attempt to salvage the Olympics. Other theories cite cultural aspects such as the propensity for problem denial, bowing instead of handshaking, and little display of PDAs. Other contributing factors are surely the popularity of masks, diligent hand washing, taking shoes off at home, and the ability to receive proper medical care because everyone is insured.

Up until now, the Japanese government’s limited strategy has been to focus on known cluster areas. The current guidelines for social distancing are avoiding 三つの密 (mitsu no mitsu, or three types of situations beginning with the kanji mi, meaning close). These are 密閉 (mippei, or poorly ventilated spaces), 密集 (misshuu, or crowds of people) and 密接 (missetsu, or close physical contact).

But being Japan, of course they have a coronavirus mascot! Meet Quaran, whose symbol is Q for quarantine. You can find this letter marking his forehead, and if you look at him from behind his tail makes his rear view also form the shape of a Q. He carries a sword to protect all of us, and wings adorn his back so he can fly away in case of danger. A true hero for our times!

Speaking of Japan’s hygienic mascots, superhero (complete with cape) soap bubble Shinjuku Awawa was created six years ago as the representative for the Shinjuku Food Sanitation Association’s safe hand-washing campaign. If coronavirus blues have got you down, make sure to check out Shinjuku Awawa’s Twitter account and his joyful hand washing dance!

And before we go, here’s one more kawaii (?) character, Corona chan. Note how she took out the Tokyo Olympic mascots, Miraitowa and Someity, in the background)!

Comments are closed.

Page Rank