20th April, 2020

It is certainly strange times we are living in.

April in Hakuba is usually a time of warm sunny days, of happy local people relaxing and getting out after a long busy winter of work. Of closing seasonal restaurants and a changed demographic of guests from international powder enthusiasts to large numbers of Japanese school groups enjoying the last of the snow.

This year is different.

There are no Japanese school groups. The resorts have closed. There are a few random non-local foreigners wandering around the not busy streets. City escapees? Town is not usually busy at this time of year, but it is even less so this year. The local people are not out and about as much as usual but the online talk is much busier. Talk that centres around doing the right thing. Of social distancing. In typical Japanese style they rise to the occasion in times of crisis. The foreign run restaurants may have closed and the owners gone home but the Japanese ones have all transitioned to take out menu’s! The options for stay at home eating without cooking have exploded. If you like to cook though the supermarkets are well stocked and not busy during the middle of the day either. There has been no panic buying and hoarding here. Need toilet paper? No problem!

On my daily walks in the forest it is rare to see anyone, just the sounds of the birds, the rustling leaves in the trees, the sounds of nature, the Spring blossoms coming out and breathing beautiful fresh mountain air. Those you do see smile and keep their distance, a polite Konnichiwa.

After a low snowfall season the mountain bike trails are open already too, much earlier than usual. People are fishing in the streams and lakes. Enjoying the great outdoors.

Hakuba is truly a magical place.

Some people already working from home in these trying times are doing it in style. By all accounts Karuizawa is already busy with city people escaping the lockdown to a better place. What will your story be of how you survived the great global pandemic of 2020?


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