"Normally I ride a bicycle, delivering food for Uber Eats; but from time to time I turn to writing," begins the article in Weekly Playboy (April 20). "A lot of my customers these days are people sequestered in their homes, following the recommendations to avoid the types of social density that help spread the novel coronavirus."
The writer begins his narrative on March 28, the first day of "self restraint" for residents of Tokyo and surrounding prefectures. Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike had issued an appeal for people to avoid going to establishments serving food and beverages.
"At 8 a.m. on March 28, a Saturday, I switched on my smartphone's application used by delivery agents," he writes. "At 9, the first order arrived. I pedaled in the direction of Shinjuku. There was hardly anyone on the streets, unlike the day before. I wondered where they'd all gone."
The carrier picked up the goods and confirmed their destination to be East Shinjuku. He transited JR Shinjuku Station and the Kabukicho entertainment area, making good time as the streets were unusually empty of traffic.
"The area around the South Exit of the station resembled a scene of TV news coverage during a strong typhoon," was how he described it.
He arrived at his delivery destination 10 minutes faster than it normally would have taken him.
More orders began arriving, taking him to Suidobashi, where he observed the closed off-track betting windows for the day's horse races. Korakuen amusement park was also deserted.
After making a delivery to Ochanomizu, out of curiosity he pedaled down the street to Akihabara.
"There was nothing to be seen," he relates. "Not the cute girls on the sidewalks dressed as French maids, promoting their maid cafes, or the fans of anime, or the normal hordes of foreign tourists. Nobody.
"I wonder what impact that had on business the maid cafes?" the unnamed contributor asks.
Peddling past a high-rise apartment in Chuo Ward, he stopped to talk to a driver whose truck was stacked with cartons from Amazon.
"I could tell he was smiling even though a mask covered his mouth," he writes. "He told me, 'Since everybody's staying home, there are no missed deliveries and I don't have to come back a second time. Work went so quickly I'll be able to go home four hours earlier than usual!'"
After a break for lunch, it was early evening and he was in Shibuya to pick up an order from a shop. Between jobs, he pedaled through Ebisu and Azabu Juban to Ginza.
"At 7 p.m., the main drag was practically deserted. The only action was a line of taxis around the Ginza 4-chome crossing waiting to pick up fares."
Sunday, March 29, the temperature plunged and snow fell in Tokyo.
"I decided to stay home because riding a bicycle would be dangerous; but a colleague who covered Taito and Sumida wards went out to take photos around the Tokyo Skytree, and sent them to me."
His photos showed the normally crowded Kaminari-mon and Nakamise shopping street at Asakusa almost devoid of humans. The one exception was a long queue of people outside a drug store before opening time, waiting to buy face masks.
Around 4 p.m. the snow had let up and he was back on the job. "Transiting Shinjuku, Takatanobaba and Waseda, mostly the people I saw other were Uber Eats carriers," he wrote. "Even Harajuku's Takeshita-dori, which is normally mobbed with teens, was virtually empty of visitors."
The orders tapered off from around 8 p.m. and he headed for home.
To make money at this job, he gave a few pieces of advice. First, try to stick close to a McDonalds, he says. On some days they account for close to half the business volume, so proximity is likely to land more orders. Also, a carrier should try to work no further than around 2 kilometers from his own residence. "It's possible to receive orders from places 4 or 5 kilometers away, but usually these are reserved for carriers riding motorcycles, not bicycles. If you take took long to get to the restaurant, it's likely the order will get cancelled," he advises.
And how much compensation did the hard-riding writer receive? A photo from his smartphone display shows 18,094 yen -- not at all bad for two days of efforts.© Japan Today