The Plague's the Thing
Whenever a natural disaster or an epidemic strikes anywhere in the Japanese archipelago, all manner of old and former acquaintances unbury themselves like tortoises and start sending me email. Typically, once they hear that I'm alive and unaffected, they rebury themselves and don't contact me again until the next sensationalized panic.
Let it be known that at the time of upload--touch wood--Tottori is unaffected.
Schools closed for the month, which leads to lots of bored and restless youths trapped indoors and parents who figure--Hey, why not?--it would be a good time to travel outside the prefecture. We'll see how long we retain our haven status.
That and the national superstition that sporting a surgical mask will somehow prevent viral infection has led to a depletion of all surgical masks in shops here, too. So I've heard. Not being superstitious, I haven't tried to buy any myself. But the really funny (to me) thing is that toilet tissue is sold out, too. I can't for the life of me figure out why. Maybe they figure that in a pinch they can fashion surgical masks out of toilet tissue and rubber bands. (If this is true, we'll see rubber bands disappear from the shelves in the next few days.)
My only comment, really, is that it's been around a century since the Spanish Flu and we were about due for a global pandemic. The media make a much bigger deal of it than they would say, a resurgence of Ebola, simply because China is so vital to the world's economy. As I mentioned in a previous entry, we have a devil of a time sifting the truth of any situation out of the farrago of misinformation and fake news coursing through cyberspace, but for the record the American media are--at time of upload--reporting thousands of deaths from the 'plain old' flu. I find it hard to accept at face value simply because, being American, I was raised to believe the flu wasn't something a person could die from. But there you have it.
(Of course, saying the word in its long form--'influenza'--makes it sound a lot scarier than the cute and casual 'the flu', and I suspect this is part of the reason for the national terror of it we find here. It's defined as a 'legal disease' in Japan, which means companies are required by law to order suffering employees to stay home. Americans know when they're too ill to go to work, and they call in of their own volition to say they're not coming.)
It's really not at all exciting, but these are the developments as the now stand. Should we see any actual signs of the plague in Tottori, I shall certainly report them here.