Through my various trips to Japan, I’m now aware of most of the things which catch out the unwary foreigner. Things like the stealth public holiday, where you go into work and wonder why you’re the only person there. But this is my first New Year in Japan, and it’s completely got me.
The first hint that something was not right came on New Year’s Day, when after our church service someone said to me “Have you got enough food in?” We had a severe blizzard on New Year’s Day, but I didn’t think I was going to be cut off. I live five minute’s walk from the supermarket, for heaven’s sake.
New Year’s Day was deadly quiet, what with the snow and with everyone celebrating at home with their families. And yesterday was very quiet as well, but fair enough. I stayed at home and relaxed.
And now it’s the third, and I’m fed up of sitting at home relaxing. I got stuff to do. The snow has gone now, but the city is still deadly quiet. All the banks and post offices are shut, and I have a grand total of 90 yen to my name. Not that there’s anywhere open that I could spend it - the tourist shops are open because, as always, we have coachloads and coachloads of visitors, but everything else is shut. Now I see why I needed enough food in. (I have, thankfully.)
Will normal service return tomorrow? Or will this country lay dead until next Monday? And what on earth is everyone doing for all this time?