Memories of an empty city

March 25, 2024

Is it me or does it feel like the lockdowns happened so long ago, but at the same time, where did the time go? Just like in a lot of other countries, things really just came to a halt. Tourists stopped coming in and all the bars and such closed down.

I live in downtown Osaka, which used to mean waking up or being kept up by very drunk, full-grown adults yelling, laughing hysterically, screaming, or fighting late at night. I eventually had to get earplugs, which were somewhat effective. Well…this all stopped after Covid hit. 😬

The city turned into a ghost town. πŸ‘»

I really regret not taking pictures of the actual main shopping arcade. Anyone that’s been to Osaka knows that the downtown area is always packed. It used to be eerie walking through the shopping arcade. But if I’m being real, there’s a side of me that loved that. πŸ˜Άβ€πŸŒ«οΈ No hordes of people walking in the wrong direction and bumping into you. No groups abruptly stopping right front of you. Not having to fight for my life or take detours while walking home was nice! πŸ˜…

Even when there wasn’t a lockdown in effect, lots of stores remained closed. The sudden decrease in drugstores was also pretty noticeable. Drugstores were as numerous as vending machines. Some pretty popular and long-standing establishments ended up going out of business, including my favorite gyoza place…

Now that things are back to normal…

  • The streets are crowded again, but people are so much quieter than before? At least in certain areas. No more random drunk people keeping me up at night. πŸ‘€
  • The yen is still in the gutter. If you’re thinking of ever visiting Japan, NOW is your chance. If you bring USD, everything is like 50% off…
  • Garbage is back on the streets downtown.
  • Lots of new shops and cafes have popped up to replace the shutdown ones.
  • The abundance of drugstores is back. There’s a drugstore every 50 steps once again. Granted, that’s only in the densely populated/visited parts, but still! It’s just too much.
  • A lot of Japanese people still wear masks, especially on the train. (They’re also useful for no makeup days and keeping your face warm!)
  • Companies are making people go back to the office…

Totally skipping over the really bad effects Covid had, but I was just talking to someone yesterday, and he fondly remembers going into a shoe store in Shinsaibashi and it being just him and a couple employees. And I imagine it was the same story in so many other countries and cities. Something like this is probably, and hopefully, never going to happen again though.


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