After two weeks of spring holidays, school finally resumed. This time around, lessons are being held online over Zoom which, from my perspective, has been actually better than being in a real classroom. I’m finding that much easier to concentrate when I’m just focused on the teacher whereas in a regular classroom, even a loud whisper from the back of the classroom distracts everyone immediately.
As for COVID-19, Japan finally went into a state of emergency in the middle of April, right when the 7-day average of cases seemed to hit its peak.
By the end of April, cases had already dropped in half and my hunch is that by June, everything will be back to normal. That said, I find it hard to understand given the number of new cases in North America.
Walking & Biking
One thing I’m really happy about is I’ve developed this habit of going for a walk each morning. With the cherry blossoms blooming at the end of March, the warmer weather has made it one of my favourite parts of my day.
In early April, I went on one of the most interesting bike rides I’ve ever been on. I found a nearby mountain pass, 入山峠, and on the way up, I came across a few landslides. The covered was covered with debris and I had to carry my bike across. To get to these points, I had already biked quite a bit so I really didn’t want to turn around.
When I finally reached the top, I crossed paths with a Japanese cyclist who was warning me to turn around. I explained how the road I had ridden on was also pretty bad and is probably the same. Then I came across this.
Initially, I thought I had no choice but to turn back, but then I saw the ladder on the left. So I carried my bike up this ladder with one hand and one hand on the ladder. I eventually made it up, walked across the collapsed road, and back down the next ladder. Fortunately, the remaining path was fairly smooth, with only a few places where I needed to carry my bike across.
When I finally reached the bottom on the other side of the mountain, a “Do Not Enter” sign had already been placed so I must have just picked the wrong side to ascend from.
With the weather warming up, I’ve been trying to get out most weekends for a ride. A friend and I arranged a bike ride one day and we were able to make it to a few lakes.
Spending in April
Aside from the occasional bike ride, I don’t think Ms. Kanto and I ever left the 30-minute perimeter of our house. As a result, April ended up being my cheapest month in Japan so far.
Housing: So far, our utility bills have been coming in higher than Ms. Kanto’s expected. She’s lived in another large city in Japan, and her utility costs, in some areas, were almost half of what we’re paying today. We’re going to try to do our best to conserve electricity and water as much as we can over the next little while, so we’ll keep an eye on this to see if it makes a difference.
Phone: As expected, I barely used my phone this month and it only cost me about $10 for it. I’m on a one-year plan for IIJmio that finishes at the end of the summer and with the current prices, I’ll be more than happy to continue with it.
Transportation: April was the second month in a row with not a single yen being spent on public transportation. With the number of COVID-19 cases dropping week by week, I imagine it’ll only last one more month. But in the mean time, it’s been nice just walking everywhere and not having any errands to do.
Groceries: More or less the same as in March. For the most part, we don’t pay much attention to prices when we do our groceries but we also tend to avoid things that are overpriced (most fruits in Japan). I think in the long-term, we’ll always spend roughly the same each month. I can’t imaging this number going down by more than 10%.
Eating Out: Each time I’ve gone on a bike ride and picked up some snacks for the road, I’ve just assigned those purchases to this category. But in reality, most of those things I can also buy when we do groceries, so I’m not sure if it makes sense to keep here. I imagine this will more or less be $0 for the next month as well.
Shopping: We bought a toaster oven! Something that surprised me when we moved in here was the lack of an oven. I’ve lived in more than half a dozen places in North America, and I’ve never lived in a place that was oven-less, until now. It’s been fun making some things I haven’t made in a while.
Medical & Dental: No spending is good, right? 🙂
Fun: Though we didn’t venture out of our neighbourhood all month, I’m not sure if it will last through May. With the weather warming up and COVID-19 cases going down, I think Ms. Kanto and I are both itching to go somewhere. I’m not sure what the situation is like at hotels or ryokans, but I think we’ll try to do at least a day trip somewhere in the next month or two.
As expected, April ended up being pretty similar to March. At this rate, May will probably be identical to these two months but that will probably it. I think starting June, life will start to resemble pre-COVID-19 life once again.