Photography Tetsuya Maehara

Shibuya's youth reflect on COVID-19

Captured just as Japan's COVID-19 response began escalating, these photos feature the city's youth coming to terms with the coming crisis.

by i-D Team
|
23 April 2020, 8:42am

Photography Tetsuya Maehara

In the days around these photos and interviews being captured nobody in Japan was sure of how the country would respond to the escalating COVID-19 crisis. They were taken just after the announcement that the 2020 Olympics had been postponed and there was a growing sense in Tokyo that the city would be shut down soon.

While there's no official shut down in Tokyo, the city requested that people stay home and on April 7 the Japanese government declared a state of emergency. Looking back, these photos now tell the story of people's hopes and expectations about the crisis. Nobody could be sure of what news was coming around the corner — an experience that around the world we've all come to understand as the new normal.

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Yuya, 21, beautician

How did you spend today?
I walked around with friends from my hometown.

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
Yes, many products are vanishing from supermarkets. And the number of customers has also declined.

What do you want to do first when life goes back to normal?
I wanna hang out with friends every day without thinking about anything.

What have you learnt from this unexpected situation?
Daily preparation. We shouldn’t take everything on faith because information has gotten complicated.

What’s your goal for the future?
I want to do what I like to do and influence people.

So what are you going to do this weekend?
I’ll spend the whole time watching movies on Netflix.

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Ryunosuke Hata , 21, student

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
It’s become difficult to buy daily commodities such as masks.

What do you want to do first when life goes back to normal?
The situation seems to continue throughout the year, but actually my life has not changed much.

What do you enjoy doing most?
I love it when I'm sitting on my bed thinking about my future and my clothes.

What do you think when you look at social media?
Our lives won't change unless we suffer from direct harm.

What have you learned from this unexpected situation?
I found that there are some adults who can't think of others.

What will you do when Tokyo goes into lockdown?
Relax at home.

What’s your goal for the future?
To be a fashion designer. I want to be involved in every aspect of fashion.

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Yuto, 18, student

How did you spend today?
Shopping.

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
I cannot get a mask, and I feel uncomfortable on the train. I started at a fashion college, but the beginning ceremony was cancelled.

What do you enjoy doing most?
Eating meals.

What do you think when you look at social media?
Everything is slow in Japan.

What have you learned from this unexpected situation?
The importance of hand-washing and gargling.

What’s your goal for the future?
Fashion designer.

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Runa, 20 (left) and Rui, 21 (right), sales associates at Yohji Yamamoto

How did you spend today?
Rui: Shopping with a friend who picked up me at a recruitment ceremony.

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
Runa: There are few people outside.
Rui: I cannot buy masks.

How long do you think this situation will continue for?
Runa: For three months.
Rui: Until this summer.

What do you want to do first when “normal life” returns?
Runa: I wanna go to Disney Resort.

How do you stop feeling loneliness?
Rui: Beer and Sake.

When are you at your happiest?
Runa: Mornings.
Rui: On my way home after work.

What have you learned from this unexpected situation?
Runa: Various things can happen in our lives.
Rui: We should be calm in any situation.

What are you going to do this weekend?
Runa: Stay home.
Rui: No plan.

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Momomi, 18 (left) and Yuto, 18 (right), both students

How did you spend today?
Momomi & Yuto: We watched a movie.

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
Momomi: I came to be conscious of essential things like hand-washing and gargling.
Yuto: It became difficult to go outside.

How long do you think this situation will continue for?
Momomi: For the time being.

What did you do when schools closed?
Yuto: Skateboard.

What do you want to do first when “normal life” returns?
Momomi: I wanna go to Disney Resort.

What have you learnt from this unexpected situation?
Yuto: There is lots of fake news.

What will you do when Tokyo goes into lockdown?
Yuto: Start reading Factfulness and other books at home.

What’s your goal for the future?
Momomi: I wanna live in the US.
Yuto:I wanna work on apparel.

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Miho Shimizu, 22, apparel associate (left) and Takuto Goke, 20, beautician (right)

How did you spend today?
Miho: A birthday date.

How has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
Miho: Work shifts have decreased.
Takuto: The number of customers has decreased at the pub where I work part-time. And the aquarium was closed.

How long do you think this situation will continue for?
Miho: For one year.
Takuto: For three months.

What do you enjoy doing most?
Miho: Listening to music.

What do you think when you look at social media?
Miho: I feel scared every day.
Takuto: I realised that I didn’t understand the significance of the situation.

What will you do when Tokyo goes into lockdown?
Miho: I'll have trouble with my income.
Takuto: Stay home and watch movies all day.

What’s your goal for the future?
Miho: I want to launch my own brand.
Takuto: I wanna be a hair and makeup artist.

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Keigo, 18, confectionary school student

How did you spend today?
Shopping.

Has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
I cannot get masks.

How long do you think this situation will continue for?
Until June.

What do you enjoy doing most?
Hanging out with friends.

What have you learned from this unexpected situation?
We shouldn't overstock.

What’s your future dream?
Patissier.

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Halka, 20 (left) and Kota, 20 (right), both apparel associates

How did you spend today?
Kota: We walked around to look at clothes.

How has COVID-19 affected your daily life or work?
Halka: My salary has decreased as the business hours have reduced. In everyday life, alcohol-based hand sanitisers are inaccessible.
Kota: My working hours have reduced.

How long do you think this situation will continue?
Halka: Until this summer.
Kota: But it's likely to end by summer

What do you want to do first when “normal life” returns?
Halka: For the time being, I still have a normal life. But I want to buy clothes.
Kota: I’ll do the same as before.

What do you enjoy doing most?
Halka: I love hip-hop and listen to it every day. I can’t stand it if I don't listen to it for a day.
Kota: Playing with my phone before falling asleep.

What have you learned from this unexpected situation?
Halka: I think we should do everything we want and like to do (before we won’t be able).

What will you do when Tokyo goes into lockdown?
Halka: I want them to take action before any trouble happens.
Kota: I can’t imagine until it happens…

What’s your goal for the future?
Halka: I want to appear in a collection wearing clothes I will produce.
Kota: I want to make a living by remaking clothes.

What are you going to do this weekend?
Halka: I'm going to dye my hair or get a tattoo.
Kota: No particular plans.

Credits


Photography Tetsuya Maehara

This article was originally published on i-D Japan and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tagged:
Culture
tokyo
Coronavirus
i-D Asia
COVID-19