down time

お昼寝のイラスト「幼稚園の昼休み」

I am writing again during nap time. I mean, I have an hour to kill so why not, right? I can watch to make sure nine 4-year-olds don’t strangle themselves with blankets and type a blog at the same time.

Things aren’t really winding down yet. I heard on the news and from my family in the states that things are slowly starting to open back up in some places. My mother in Florida is ecstatic that she can go to the beach again starting on Monday. She has been blowing up my phone with messages because she is so bored.

Here, though, not so much.

We are pretty much the only school that is still open from what I can see, and even we have an order to the parents to keep their kids home if they can. I’m pretty sure that all nine of my present kids are children of doctors, nurses, and government workers.

We, like the rest of Japan, were hoping that at the end of Golden Week, everything would slowly go back to normal. That is proving to not be the case, though. Last night, Prime Minister Abe declared that the state of emergency would be extended past May 6th. While I knew this was going to happen, I was a little frustrated nonetheless. I know things are crazy and scary out there but when will life go back to normal? We weren’t given an exact timeline for the extension, just that it was going to be longer than they originally thought.

Because of that, the Japanese government is talking about starting the new school year in September (much like America). The Japanese school year is supposed to start in April. However, it is currently May 1st and the new school year has yet to start for public schools.

The Japanese government did announce that the stimulus checks have been approved, though! They are going to start sending out the forms for it. It can also be done online using My Number (the Japanese equivalent to Social Security numbers). Unlike the states, we actually have to fill out a form for it. Anyone living in Japan that has a My Number can register to get it, so that’s a huge relief. I know that mine will be going straight to paying off bills, mostly my credit cards that I’ve been struggling with since I first came to Japan. Because my student loans are in interest-free forbearance, I decided to use this time to completely pay off my credit cards.

When I first came to Japan, Interac (my former workplace) paid very low salary and put me in a very expensive LeoPalace apartment. That plus the bills of moving to a new country (signing up for health insurance and buying a phone, etc) put a big dent in my credit… Which I can now take care of and slowly build my credit score back up. Hopefully I can get it to a decent point where I can get approved when I eventually get to applying for a business loan for the B&B!

Anyway, back on topic… What else can I tell you about what is happening here?

Well, the government is also sending out washable masks to every household. I guess that my town took it a step up and is taking those masks and also sending out filters and coupons for take-out. When the coupon thing was first announced for the nation, everyone shot it down and called it stupid. I think that they are regretting that now since so many people are doing so much takeout!

Hand soap, hand sanitizer, face masks, and a lot of cleaning supplies are completely sold out in supermarkets. Something that surprised me is that spray bottles are sold out! I went to go find one so that I could spray my garden plants with a solution to get rid of those pesky bugs but they were completely gone.

We have plenty of toilet paper and tissues, though.

The malls are all shut and locked. Not really a surprise… though it does make shopping for new work clothes hard. I have to wear brown pants for work and one pair has a hole in them. The place I always get them from, though, is closed…. I guess I will just have to look unprofessional for a few weeks. It’s not like they can yell at me for it, right?

My husband is, for the most part, working remotely. I was off yesterday because of rotation and got to see him in action….

Well, I say that but his job is literally just coding so it was seeing a bunch of numbers I don’t understand on the screen and hearing him talk to his colleagues about why certain servers aren’t running correctly. I didn’t understand a lick of it but it was cool to see.

I have been getting a lot of gardening done. Most of my herbs (rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, sage) lasted through the winter. Some (basil, parsley, mint) didn’t… so I went out and bought new ones. I also planted some tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, and eggplants. If I’m lucky, I may be able to make ratatouille from things only in my garden with the exception of mushrooms.

The garden center seems to be open with the home goods store, Joyfull Honda. They are open on weekdays from I think 11 AM to 5 PM. Probably closed on holidays, so Golden Week will be ultra boring….

Golden Week, in case you don’t know, if a series of holidays that fall in the span of one week. It’s kind of like a spring break for regular working people, which is nice. Traveling and sight seeing are always horrible though – so crowded! This year, though, everything is closed. I’m wondering how many people will actually listen to the order, though. I already saw a few people walking around with suitcases this morning even though today is a regular working day.

I know that one of my coworkers took today off to prolong his holiday. I’m sure others did too.

There are even two less kids than normal here today in my class.

Even the popular Japanese character Doraemon is into the “Stay Home” campaign of Japan.

STAY HOME!
The Japanese “Stay Home” campaign.
【新型コロナ】新企画『ドラえもん「STAY HOME」プロジェクト ...
Because you stayed home,
Because you properly washed your hands,
Because you thought of your family,
Because you supported your friends,
Because you were kind,
Because you helped the sick,
Because you worked for everyone,
Because you didn’t give up on the future,
It’s all okay. The future is good!

Doraemon is a popular Japanese kids’ character right up there with Pikachu and just as well-known. It’s a robot cat from the future that lost his ears and cried until he turned blue… then embraced himself and carried on to make friends. I will write more about him in another blog someday.

Please stay safe, friends. I will try to keep you updated as I know more.

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