On April 7, 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in several key prefectures over the coronavirus pandemic. While the country is technically not under an enforced lockdown, residents of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka are asked to refrain from nonessential outings (grocery shopping, hospital visits and commuting to work if necessary are excluded).
The pandemic has far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease and businesses across almost every industry are hurting. If you’re at home wondering what you can do to help out, here are some ways to support your community.
Support farmers and food producers by ordering online
With websites like Tabechoku, you can easily order locally sourced vegetables, meat, eggs, fruits and more straight to your doorstep while helping support small businesses throughout Japan. There’s even a section on this website dedicated to businesses suffering from the pandemic (labeled “コロナでお困りの生産者さん”).
Order takeout from your favorite local eateries
While most restaurants and dining establishments are closed temporarily during this season, many still offer takeout. This is a great chance to enjoy high-end dining in the comfort of your home with restaurants like Ristorante Honde and Out. Healthy juice bars like Tokyo Juice and Sunshine Juice Tokyo are also offering takeout. Antenna America, Japan’s biggest importer for American craft beer, has a delivery system so that you can get cold beers delivered straight to your doorstep.
Our friends at Freewheeling Japan in Tokyo have partnered with several restaurants and eateries around Tokyo including Masayuki Coba’s Tako Bar to bring fresh Mexican food to your door by bicycle. The Fiesta Package (¥5,000) includes a soft taco kit with ten tortillas and toppings plus four burritos. Chicken or vegetarian only (great for freezing!). Vegan available, inquire directly about any food allergies or concerns.
The food is prepared at the Tako Bar’s clean private kitchen in Shibuya PARCO, which is open to staff but not the public. They are doing their best to offer quality and cleanliness and limiting waste as much as possible by using reusable ziplock bags and minimal packaging.
Buy groceries from local farmers or markets
Everyone should try and shop locally, but this situation proves that buying produce from your local market is even more important. It’s environmentally friendlier and can be cheaper, there might be more stock and you’d be supporting farmers and businesses so they can survive and continue providing as an alternative solution to bulk shopping at supermarkets. This is also a good time to learn how to eat according to the season: spring leafy vegetables like nabana and spinach are plentiful right now.
Don’t forget to wipe down your shopping eco bags
Starting April 1, many grocery stores throughout the country have started charging for plastic bags (yay!). While this is great for the environment, handling reusable bags pose a threat to grocery store workers and the users themselves as the virus could survive on contaminated bags. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of your reusable bag, consider washing it with soap or detergent in the same way you wash your hands or clothes.
Shop online but make sure it’s within Japan
Obviously we’re not just shopping for food. If you’re looking for a gift for someone it may be challenging to use Amazon right now, but think of your favorite local shops, brands and creators/artists to see if they have an online shop available.