Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Japan: what’s happening now

I arrived in Japan on 27th Feb. 2019. I flew from Montreal, Canada, via Chicago, the U.S. The flight from Chicago to Tokyo was not full. My impression was that less than 50% of the seats were occupied, which meant that I had more space than usual. About half of the passengers must have taken the flight for transit because they didn’t take customs cards.

Some of the passengers were wearing face masks, and so was I. It looked a bit weird,— I had never seen that many passengers wearing masks in a plane —, but the flight was good. There were four experienced cabin attendants in an economy class, whose service was excellent. I enjoyed the food and wine, as well as Chicago beer. The flight was more or less smooth and we arrived at Narita airport earlier than the scheduled arrival time.

Japanese people have worn face masks even before the outbreak coronavirus, but I had never seen every single person at the airport wearing a mask. Literally, no one didn’t wear a mask. There were not many people queuing up at the passport check, where you normally have to wait in a long line.

I took a domestic flight to Osaka which is a closer city to my hometown after going through the immigration and took the buses to get to my hometown. When I arrived in my hometown around 8:40 pm local time, my father, who came to the station to pick me up, told me that the Japanese government had just announced that they would close all schools,— primary, junior high and high schools — in Japan for two weeks the day after next in order to stop spreading the coronavirus. More precisely speaking, it was because the government wanted to avoid the collapse of hospitals which happened in Wuhan after too many patients rushed to hospitals.

The announcement of closing schools was out of the blue to everyone in Japan. March is the school graduation time here and people were confused by the government decision. Some schools decided that they would have graduation ceremonies the next day (the last day before the suspension of schools) which was initially scheduled sometime in March. Other schools had to cancel their ceremonies.

I am Japanese who live in Canada and I came back to Japan to visit my family. I had thought of cancelling my flight this time because of the outbreak of coronavirus in Japan, but I decided to fly as I had planned.

My parents are not young and I want to come back to see them as often as possible. That’s why I came to Japan this time. However, if you have a plan to come to Japan now just for sightseeing, I would not recommend it.

The Mayor of Hokkaido which is a popular sightseeing city asked people not to go out during this weekend to avoid getting the infection. Disneyland and DisneySea in Tokyo, Universal Studio in Osaka will also close until the middle of March.

Almost all big events have been cancelled, including marathons, concerts, business exhibitions. Horse racing, Sumo wrestling and baseball games are held without an audience.
The tourist spots, restaurants, hotels are empty, no atmosphere. Some hotels have already gone bankrupt.

If you hate being in crowded tourists spots, you may feel comfortable sightseeing in Japan at the moment. You don’t have to wait to buy tickets or to enter museums, temples and shrines. You do not have to queue up to go to famous restaurants and will be served food very quickly. Otherwise, however, I don’t really recommend you visiting Japan right now. If you have already cancelled your flight tickets to Japan, I think your decision was the right one.