The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Since the coronavirus pandemic began I have barely left my house. I don’t mind staying at home, as I have a full office separate from the living space and I’m more than happy to skip the five-hour daily commute, but one thing I really miss is dining at my favorite restaurants, trying new ones, and visiting museums.

These activities were a very important part of my life before March, so I am truly looking forward to the day when I can do such things again. But I also wonder how it’s going to be possible.

ELBOW ROOM
A few days ago, for the first time since mid-March, I visited a nearby restaurant—a very popular Michelin-starred Neapolitan pizzeria. But despite patronage still being sparse, and the interior spacious with ample seating, we had to wait half an hour to get in, because half the tables were empty for social distancing. It’s totally understandable, and I was thankful for the precautions being taken, but it does change the way you think about dining out—especially in a city the size of Tokyo.

SAFELY SERVED
Will things ever return to normal? How will restaurants do enough business to survive, given that they won’t be able to fill nearly as many seats for the foreseeable future? And will diners feel comfortable?

The food-and-beverage industry is vital to the city’s economy, so finding a way to reopen while protecting patrons from the risks posed by the coronavirus is a must.

While my concerns are a bit selfish—I want to eat the foods I love and enjoy spend­ing time out with friends—the worries for the owners are much more serious. And as someone who writes about business on a daily basis, I really wanted to know how restaurants are getting by. So, this month, we’re dipping into that starting here.

BETTER LIFE?
The other thing I miss are those days spent at the museum. Tokyo is an artistic mecca. There are few works of creativity—famous or obscure—that you cannot see here if you are patient. But the experience is not always the best, because the facilities are usually packed. And, well, that isn’t going to work in the new normal.

I’ve been wondering for a while if I’ll ever be able to take in exhibitions the way we did before March. I have been to some museums over the past few months, but only virtually, using my Oculus VR headset. I’m ready to visit Mori Art Museum again, where I am a fellow. Maybe that will happen soon. They’ve announced reopening, for the end of July, with reservations for specific time slots re­quired. Many others are doing the same. I’m curious to see how that goes. I think it is will make it much more difficult to get in (as has long been the case with the Ghibli Museum), but it may also make the experience much better.

And that, I think, may be the key take­­­away for much of the post-Covid-19 world. Things are going to be different for sure, but they may also be more rewarding and bring us a better experience in life.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.