June 2020

This was my last semester at Keio University, and similarly to many other university students all around the world the entire semester was held online. It was quite sad not being able to visit my campus, study in the library, going to the (heavily subsidised) school canteen, not being able to physically sit in a class, but most importantly not being able to see by classmates and my friends that I’ve made over the last 4 years.

Apart from several unpleasant complications, I had some issues regarding my thesis research as well. I couldn’t see my advisor and our zoom calls could hardly be a good enough compromise. I also couldn’t do any research in the library, or do my thesis interviews in person. I realised I certainly would not have been able to graduate without my laptop… I ended up finishing my thesis of course, although it wasn’t as well-written as I would have liked. I wrote it on “Japanese Buddhists Against Nuclear Weapons: The Impact of Grassroots Activism of the Nipponzan Myohoji on the Denuclearisation Debate”.

Around the beginning of spring, the Japanese government did a good enough job of keeping COVID-19 cases at bay, by imposing a nation-wide state of emergency. People worked from home, and most were quite good about staying at home and only leaving for necessary things like grocery shopping. However, after the state of emergency lifted two months later, the cases went up immediately, and the situation is quite grave as the government is reluctant to impose any new restrictions of a state of emergency. Everyone is doing a great job of wearing masks virtually all the time, but of course it won’t be possible to return to our old way of living until a vaccine is introduced.

On another note however, there’s still many reasons for small pockets of happiness in one’s day to day life. I for one am very excited to start my graduate degree program at Tokyo University’s Faculty of Public Policy next month. The Fall semester will be online however, so I am curious as to how we’ll go about getting to know our new professors and classmates through online classes. The rainy season also already ended in Japan, which always marks the beginning of the true summer and Japan’s sweltering hot. Every day we have temperatures above 35 degrees Celcius, so most Japanese people are actually quite glad the Olympic Games got cancelled as it would have been extremely dangerous anyways.

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