Japan: The country where the ATMs are the only ones who don’t have to work overtime. March: Tax season and warmer days are upon us. After winter nearly started in December, but never really seemed to get off the ground, I find myself asking, “is it spring already?”
Currently, fears about the new corona virus are the only thing spreading faster than the virus itself. Everyone is wearing surgical masks, but that behaviour isn’t all that new in Japan. Although these days, masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and medicine are suddenly selling out. Why toilet paper?! I’m actually running out of that and now I can’t buy any. Rough times are ahead. The government also suddenly closed down all schools for the month of March. People are confused and upset. Will this really help? I don’t really know, but there sure are a lot of kids hanging out at the mall now. Since I teach for a private company, we’re staying open – and it seems that students are still interested in coming in, which is either a good sign of people’s morale and tenacity, or a gigantic mistake. A big potential problem here is that people aren’t being tested for the virus. The difference between the number of confirmed cases and the number of actual cases may be incredibly different. The truth is we just don’t know. But, so far, there are no confirmed cases in the prefecture I’m living in – they’re only in every surrounding prefecture.
But there’s always a silver lining: due to the corona virus, the deadline for my taxes has been pushed back another month. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. A couple of weeks ago I received a large stack of papers in the mail, written entirely in Japanese. Doing these tax returns is already a difficult affair for native Japanese people, and I can’t even read any of it.
On a more personal note, I’ve been thinking recently about growing up and growing old. I still don’t know where one ends and the other begins. I’ve found some meaning in the old cliche: Be true to who you are. The only problem is that they never told me I had to figure out who I was first. And I expected to have that done by now. I haven’t lived up to young me’s expectations. And that’s one thing that’s made growing up so difficult. But what can I do? How do I relieve the pain? How do I forgive myself?
So I thought, maybe I should start doing things that I’ve always wanted to try. I do need new hobbies out here. So I’ve taken up kickboxing. And it’s really resonated with me. In a strange way, I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to be doing, which has made the experience very fulfilling. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do? Find a way to make it happen. Life is all about learning new things.