Responsibility for dealing with the coronavirus falls to us, too
When using an idiomatic figurative expression, I sometimes wonder when it will become an anachronism.
One example is “geta wo azukeru,” which translates literally as “to leave one’s geta (traditional wooden clogs) with someone.” It means “to entrust someone to take care of a matter.”
But this old-fashioned footwear is rarely seen nowadays. I also believe there are fewer business establishments where patrons are asked to remove and check their shoes upon entering the premises.
And how about “sukimakaze ga fuku” (literally, “a draft of cold air blows”)? This idiom typically applies to romantic or marital relations that have turned chilly.
But in today’s homes with improved insulation and properly sealed windows and doors, drafts are becoming a thing of the past.
A well-known pop song by Ryotaro Sugi goes, “When you’ve been hurt (in love), you’ll understand how sukimakaze feels.” I doubt this masterpiece would have been born today.
Living in a draft-free home is nice, but it also means the air will stagnate unless the place is purposely ventilated.
With the arrival of cold weather, people are starting to keep their windows shut. That is probably one reason behind the current surge of novel coronavirus infections around the nation.
The uptick is especially noticeable in Hokkaido, where the capital, Sapporo, plans to ask residents to refrain from nonessential outings. The situation feels like a throwback to the days of the pandemic’s first wave.
The difference is that the government’s “Go To” campaigns to support businesses are rendering it difficult for politicians to firmly call on the public to stay at home.
Health care experts are recommending opening windows just a crack when it’s too cold to let in much air, or at least leaving a window in an adjoining room open.
Such adjustments may be easy to make in private homes or offices, but are more problematic in public places. In stores, trains and buses, I wish it were easier to ask people nicely, “May I open the window?”
We are gradually beginning to better understand the characteristics of the novel coronavirus.
We need to examine our lifestyles and make educated guesses on what risks we could be running and where.
This is no time to “leave our geta” with the central and local governments where our own conduct is concerned.
--Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 17