the erosion beneath
The noise from the dark rattles the innards of your ears. Casting around, relief and fresh air wash over you as an inspection reveals there are indeed a few windows open. The soothing gatan-goton of the train delivering you from stop to stop is somehow still enough to lull tired eyes closed and tilt heads towards their neighbors. The sudden sharp cough of someone a couple of breaths away explodes like phosphorus headlights on a silent road packed full of deer. But no one remarks. No one looks. We are in Japan.
Inner turmoil ebbs and flows along with statistics and oddly contradictory campaigns for safety and travel incentives. Plodding through winter, the situation actually appears more normal, as masks have always been commonplace in the colder months. Here, this handshake and hug-less society records a resounding win. Plastic screens and the 8pm closure of restaurants and bars aside, there is little in the way of visual clues as to the present situation. This land of conformity and self-restraint finds itself further boxed-in, but on the surface endures its few hundred new cases each day and this new but not altogether different normal with a practiced indifference.
Tokyo, Japan. 2020-2021