This Week In Japan #16 (July 24st, 2020)

This week, Concerns over the Olympics next year arise as corona cases grow. Also the chain restaurant Saizeriya adjusts prices to reduce the spread of germs from change…and more.

July 25, 2020

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Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

1. Controversies Arise Over the Olympics in Japan Next Year

Despite being pushed back a year, the Olympics will retain the same 2020 name.

This Thursday, Japan set the single-day record for new cases of corona virus with 981. The capital Tokyo alone reached 366 cases in a day, which is the highest number since the beginning of the outbreak. This marks the 15th day in a row with over 100 cases. Cases have been slowly climbing back up across Japan since summer. 

With cases rising once again, citizens and even some government officials are raising their doubts about the likelihood of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games being held next summer. In a nationwide poll conducted over telephones, data showed that less than a quarter of citizens are wanting the games to be held next summer as planned. 36.4% of those surveyed want to postpone the games and 33.7% want to see the games cancelled altogether. 

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko has stated that the priority of Japan should be taking on the virus with all of our efforts in order to ensure an on-schedule Olympics. While citizen support seems to be low, Japan’s prime minister Abe Shinzo is remaining firm in his support of the current schedule. Despite several proposals that would further extend the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo insists that “There is only one year.” With Japan’s economy in a recession due to Corona, Japan’s central government seems to have no choice but to move ahead with the Olympics for the sake of the economy.

2. Saizeriya Readjusts Its Prices to Reduce The Spread of Germs

Saizeriya is an affordable and popular Italian eatery in Japan.

The popular Italian food chain store Saizeriya is well-known in Japan for its cheap meals and is a popular location for many looking for some affordable pasta and pizza. However, the restaurant has just recently announced a complete change in all of their prices. Before you panic, the price has primarily been changed by only one yen. 

The sudden price change is actually not to increase Saizeriya`s profits, but to reduce movement of coins. The new price brings many of their menu items up to an even number ending in 0 or 5. Some items, such as rice, garlic bread, and focaccia, have even gone down in price to accommodate this change. 

Pasta and Pizza in Saizeriya

The pizzas and pastas that were 399 yen are now 400 yen, allowing them to easily be paid full with 4 coins, reducing the need to hand back a 1 yen coin to customers. Because Saizeriya`s prices are after tax, the previous listed price of 399 was the final price. By reducing the number of interactions with coinage, Saizeriya is hoping to counter the spread of Corona virus. Coins are notorious for being some of the most passed around and germ-ridden items that a person can carry. By simplifying the pricing system, Saizeriya has eliminated the need for having many small, and potentially germ-covered, coins rattling around in your pocket after enjoying some pasta or pizza.

Read a related article: Top 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in Tokyo

3. Black-Owned Anime Studio D’Art Shtajio Animates The Weeknd’s ‘Snowchild’ Music Video

An animated Abel Tesfaye in his newest music video, “Snowchild”.

This Wednesday the artist, The Weeknd, released the music video for his new song “Snowchild” off of his most recent album, After Hours. The video shows The Weeknd, Abel Tesfaye, walking around snow-covered towns, neon cities, and dark deserts in a retrospective on his career. 

The video was created by the D’Art Shtajio anime studio. This studio is the first black-owned anime studio in Japan. Originally founded by brothers Arthell and Darnell Isom, and Henry Thurlow back in 2016, the studio has since been able to work on several animated shorts. However, their collaboration with The Weeknd will mark their biggest partnership yet. The studio is based out of Shinjuku in Tokyo and prides itself on bringing western ideals of storytelling and art to Japanese audiences through traditional Japanese animation. After Hours is the 4th number one selling album for the Canadian-born singer, and it is currently the highest selling album in first week sales in 2020 so far.

4. Actor Haruma Miura Tragically Passes Away at 30

Actor Haruma Miura had several upcoming projects scheduled before his passing.
Image from bunshun.jp

This Saturday, Japanese actor and singer Haruma Miura was found hanging by his manager in his Tokyo home in an apparent suicide. He was later confirmed dead at a nearby hospital. A suicide note was also found in his apartment. The long-time actor had just begun a music career last year, and was slated to have several upcoming television appearances as well. Fans across the world shared their condolences on the web for the young star. 

Haruma Miura was no stranger to the acting world. The child star from Ibaraki had been acting in roles from the young age of 7. His first big hit came when he starred in the film Koizora, in which he won the Newcomer of the Year Award at the 31st Japan Academy Film Prize. Western fans may know him for his role as Kamotaro Ito from the Gintama 2 movie or as Eren Jaeger from the Attack on Titan live action adaption series, which consisted of two parts both starring Miura. 

In his free time, he was known to often share photos of his cooking to his Instagram story. Media speculation has tried to make a connection to online harassment and bullying as a possible cause of his death, similar to the recent incident with Terrace House star Hana Kimura, but close friends of the actor have denied those rumors.

5. 80-year-old Grandma Fights Off Bear

The Asiatic Black Bear population has slowly declined over time in Japan due to environment loss.

Last Thursday, in an incredible feat, an 82-year-old grandma in Hiroshima Prefecture successfully fended off a bear by punching it and then knocking it down. 

Rumiko Sasaki was busy doing some yardwork on the evening on July 16th when she stood up to suddenly see a black bear in front of her. According to her, once she stood up the bear attacked her immediately, going for her face. In the ensuing struggle, she said she thinks she managed to strike the bear in the face and send it flying back. The bear then fled after being defeated. 

Asiatic black bear populations have decreased over years due to poaching and conflicts with farmers. There have been over 250 black bear sightings according to Rumiko`s local hunting association, but this is the first case of an attack. The association recommended having a cell phone or even a bell close by when walking through the habitat of these bears. While this is the first reported case of a bear attacking someone this year, I have a feeling it could also be the last once the bear goes back with reports of the legendary fist of the 82-year-old Hiroshima grandma who managed to send a bear flying.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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