Japan lifted its state of emergency in the middle of May, as the number of average daily cases dropped from about 500 to almost 50. Since then, it’s been hovering around 30-50 for the most part.
For the most part, almost everything is back to normal. All the stores at the mall near our house have opened up. The main difference is that many stores have hand sanitizer at the front and that there’s this transparent plastic separating cashiers and people that are paying.
Japan’s borders are still closed to non-Japanese people, which has been a contentious point amongst foreigners living here. If you happened to be outside of Japan temporarily, even if you have a spouse and kids in Japan, if you’re not Japanese, you can’t enter the country (even if you’re a permanent resident).
I read a story where a European guy, who’s working in Japan on a valid, left in March to attend his dad’s funeral and before he could get back, the border closed. At the time, he was in the process of changing apartments so he ended up having to get his girlfriend to move all his stuff from his old apartment to his new one, and he still hasn’t been able to get back.
As for school, we continued our lessons via Zoom for all of May with the potential plan of maybe doing some lessons in-person in June, entirely dependent on the COVID-19 numbers.
Aside from this, the weather’s been getting nice, reaching as high as 29 degrees on some days, so Ms. Kanto and I have been going for a walk by river near our house after dinner each day. There are a few places where there’s a bit of a rock platform to sit on directly in the middle of the river, so it’s been refreshing to sit there and relax on some of those very hot days.
Spending in May
With things slowly going back to normal, Ms. Kanto and I have already started planning trips for June and July. As a result, May may be the last month under $800 in expenses for a while.
Housing: One thing that’s surprised me about living in our new house is the ratio between utilities and rent. In other places I’ve lived in, utilities tends to be no more than 10% or 15% of rent. Whereas here in Tokyo, the amount we spent in May is 43% of rent, with a breakdown of 13% for gas, 12% for electricity, 11% for water, and 7% for internet. Part of me wonders if it’s just because our current rent is so low, naturally, our utilities seem expensive relative to rent.
Phone: I currently pay for my phone with a US credit card, which is why there is a little bit of fluctuation on this from month to month. My plan with IIJmio is expected to end this August, so I think I’ll have to start looking into renewing it in the next two months.
Transportation: May was the third month in a row without a single yen being spent on public transportation. I actually think this might stay at nothing for the next while since we currently don’t have any plans to go anywhere (outside of a vacation or trip).
Groceries: This was was actually the second lowest we’ve spent on groceries, right next to February when we first moved into our house. Our local grocery store has also added soy meat to their stock, which is awesome since we don’t have to go to a further grocery store to pick it up.
Eating Out: I didn’t end up doing any bike rides in May, and we didn’t leave our neighbourhood so … nothing was spent here, haha. 🙂
Shopping: At first, I wasn’t sure what this could have been but when I looked at my expenses, turns out it wasn’t any interesting: just razors and shaving cream haha.
Medical & Dental: No spending is good, right? 🙂 Also, I found out that out of the $70 or so that I spent on health insurance in March, I’ll be getting $50 of it back. Woohoo!
Fun: Definitely the last month this is staying at zero. Ms. Kanto and I already planned our June and July trips, and after three months of staying at home, we’re excited to enjoy this nice weather.
While COVID-19 is far from over, the warmer weather in June makes a good opportunity for us to do a little bit of traveling, which I’m stoked for.