Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, Jack! I agree with you that everyone should live overseas - or at least in a radically different culture (which might be closer than you think) - at some point in their lives. The highs. The lows. Relying on the kindness of strangers. And yes, sometimes the adventures and even dangers of suddenly realizing your are literally or metaphorically halfway around the world from help, and have to rely on your wits to get yourself out of a sticky situation. But of course, those are just the stories you bring home to friends. As you say, it's mostly about broadening perspectives and making friends with people you would otherwise never meet.

Thanks for the thought-provoking reply!

Candid pictures of daily life in Tokyo at the start of the Coronavirus crisis…

(All photos by Aaron Paulson. Rights to this post and these photos are CC: BY-NC)

Chinese New Year this time around is the Year of the Rat, which brings with it the promise of prosperity. The Chinese admire the rat for its quick mind and ability to gather valuables and save them for the future. Since 2020 is the Year of the Rat, the year ahead should offer many opportunities to acquire wealth, as well as the ability to make choices that enable us to provide comfort for a long time to come. …

Four seasons on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost, frontier island.

“The Cabin with the Orange Door.” Hokkaido, circa 1998. (photo by Aaron Paulson)

Bringing Home the Tofu: An Expat Love Story

Four seasons on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost, frontier island

The Year of the Tiger

“The Year of the Tiger… is definitely an explosive year. It usually begins with a bang and ends with a whimper. A year earmarked for war, disagreement and disasters of all kinds. But it will also be a big, bold year. Nothing will be done on a small, timid scale. Everything, good and bad, can and will be carried to extremes. Fortunes can be made and lost. If you take a chance, gamble for high stakes, but understand that the odds are stacked against you.” …

Notes, observations, and candid street shots from daily life around the Greater Tokyo Area in 2020: The Year of Coronavirus

‘The universe has provided you with a retreat that you might not have had any opportunity to do in your life in this way,’ and to use it somehow to deepen your compassion, your self-care, the wisdom you have.” — Jake Kornfield

Spanish Flu in Japan Wikipedia Commons)


  1. Introduction

2. Diary Excerpts: Residents Returning…?; The Spanish Flu in Japan

3. Zenblog. Corona Edition: Tim Ferriss and Jack Kerouac

4. Pictures

5. Journal: Headlines; Stories That Caught My Eye; Social Media; Resources.

1. Introduction

Update #1 (July 1) Thanks to Giora at r/thorntree for pointing out Motoko Rich’s essay In Japan, the Message of Anti-Racism Protests Fails to Hit…

Notes, observations, and candid shots from daily life around the Greater Tokyo Area in 2020: The Year of Coronavirus

Discarded Face Mask; Tokyo Rural Suburbia June 2020 (©Aaron Paulson)

This edition dedicated to the memory of Anthony “Booms:” Thanks for all the hospitality over the years, Tony. I’ll miss dropping by next time I’m in town… My stepdad misses you daily.

  1. Introduction

2. Journal

3. Diary

4. Zenblog: Corona Edition

5. Pictures

6. About the Author

1. Introduction

I am avoiding the worst of the daily news in Japan, America, and the world at large. This week’s diary is based is, well, you’ll see..

2. Journal

Number of New Cases in Tokyo: see the bar graph on the right-hand side of the Updates on COVID-19 in Tokyo page for daily cases in Tokyo…

Daily cases creeping up, “alerts” going down; long-term and permanent residents still not guaranteed re-entry; photos from Kichijoji and west-end Tokyo

1. Introduction

Even as the daily number of new cases daily in Tokyo creep back up to low double digits from an all-time low of two new cases on May 23, daily life in Tokyo returns to normal. For us here in rural suburbia, it hasn’t made that much difference one way or the other, to be honest, except perhaps for the number of schoolkids around in the daytime, on half-day schedules or whatever. Can’t blame ’em. But the coronavirus crisis is not over, and it seems premature to be bombing around in bike packs with no face masks.

Then again, in…

Candid street and urban shots and observations from daily life and (mis-)adventures around the Greater Tokyo Area, plus updates on the coronavirus crisis in the world’s greatest megacity

Mejiro — Ikebukuro — Takadanobaba — Kichijoji — “Rural Suburbia”

Window Display, Kichijoji (©Aaron Paulson)

1. Introduction

2. Journal

3. Diary Excerpts

4. Photos

5. Author Notes

1. Introduction

Welcome to the first month of the “new normal” in Tokyo, and the rest of Japan.

If you don’t know already, Prime Minister Abe lifted the state of emergency in the last remaining areas, including Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, on May 25th, marking the beginning of “the new normal,” as both PM Abe and Tokyo’s Governor Koike are wont to say.

Will the state of emergency stay lifted, or will case numbers creep back up to the danger zone, in which case Tokyo will instigate an “alert” state? …

In this time of crisis, pre-schoolers are voices of the past, present, and future

Preschoolers at the Park. (photo by Aaron Paulson)

<Audio not currently available — working on it!>

(From April 7th to May 25th, 2020 Tokyo was under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis in the city and surrounding area. Tokyo prefecture was one of the last to have the state of emergency finally lifted.)

5 a.m. I wake as usual to the work trucks rumbling past my house in the pre-dawn Tokyo darkness. Despite the state of emergency, work goes on…

But not in my home. Not yet.

I finally rouse myself to the sun, and the voices of pre-schoolers trouping off to the neighbourhood daycare…

Megacity Life in “Soft Lockdown”

Shinjuku — Shibuya — Harajuku — Kichijoji — Rural Suburbia

Local pre-schoolers wait for a train to pass the sakura “cherry tree…”

“Preventing Japanese from gathering to enjoy cherry blossom season because of coronavirus would be like ‘taking hugs away from Italians’ — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike

1. Introduction

2. Journal

3. Random Daily Diary Entries

4. Photos


For a review of news highlights from the coronavirus crisis and state of emergency in Tokyo specifically, and Japan generally, you can check out these reviews from Kyodo News and


(for more details, read my diary entries in the Tokyo section of Pandemic Diaries on :-)

  • My daily routine changed — and quality of life plunged—when, despite the best efforts of the baristas, it was no longer reasonable for me to make my…

Rest Day: Daily Routine; Mass Observation Studies; Teaching in the New Normal

Photo by Aaron Paulson

Today’s post will be a little different from typical Tokyo Corona Diaries posts.

Last night at midnight Prime Minister Abe lifted the last remaining states of emergency here in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, and Hokkaido, which have been in place since April 7.

Instead of recording recent events, or taking candid pictures, today I want to catch this moment in time, a “slice of life” of a typical day from the past couple of months before we transition into a new, post-emergency phase of the pandemic.

So instead I will write about today as just another day.

Join me. Or…

Aaron Paulson

Teacher, writer, and photographer who explores Japan, and the rest of the world, from his home base in Tokyo.

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