Yesterday, the state of emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was lifted in Tokyo and its surrounding area. The state of emergency lasted 49 days from April 7th. For most of the rest of Japan, it started a week later and ended a week earlier, but regardless of where you were, who you were, it almost felt as if time was standing still.
Except it wasn’t standing still. 13% of 2020 passed while we sheltered in place. Babies were born and people passed away. Interest accrued on bank accounts and credit card debt. Cherry blossoms bloomed and fell to an audience of few.
Normal as we knew it will not return for a very long time if it ever returns at all. But in spite of that, this small step of society cautiously opening its shutters and people taking a timid step out their front doors is somehow inspiring.
I realize I missed things I took for granted just 3 months ago. A big bowl of ramen slurped down at a local shop. Practicing tea ceremony with my teacher and other students in the community teahouse. Watching the crowds stream between then northern and southern sections of Shinjuku station.
Today feels like a new chance to live, like moving from surviving to thriving. All those things I stopped photographing because they were common to me are now new again. All the details of the city that I became numb to will be novel again. Yes, 13% of 2020 has evaporated for us, and yes, our hope could be short-lived. And yes, many of Japan’s sensational summer festivals, including the Sumida River Fireworks festival that draws millions of spectators have already been canceled. But even if the second wave of COVID-19 comes in the fall, would I want to regret wasted opportunity in between?
Hello again, 2020. I know we started our relationship on a sour note, but can we have a redo starting today? I still believe in you.