Today we are leaving on the Shinkansen for Kyoto. It's hard to believe we've already been here a week. This has been an odd trip; because of the coronavirus outbreak, most of the attractions and museums we were planning to see are closed. It's hard to know how to feel about this. Disappointment feels wrong and privileged, but at the same time, it's hard not to feel sad that there are things we won't be able to see. I suppose, as many have pointed out, this is merely a sign that we are now obliged to return again someday soon.
The temples and shrines are still open (though many matsuris have been cancelled and the chozuyas--the stone water troughs at which visitors are meant to wash their hands and mouths before approaching the altar--are roped off with signs indicating that they are closed due to the outbreak.) The trains are less crowded, as are the streets.
When we arrived a week ago, it seemed everyone was wearing masks. Now it seems I see more bare faces. Are people adjusting to some kind of "new normal" I wonder? Or is the world just running out of masks?