In the new reality brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the mood in Japan is becoming grim as cultural and sporting events are canceled, a recession seems inevitable and worrisome reports about the virus dominate news broadcasts and fill social media feeds.
For many event organizers, artists and creators who are dealing with the situation, aside from the obvious health concerns, there's the additional problem of the mood of jishuku 自粛, or "self-restraint," in Japanese society in the face of crisis, creating a negative disposition towards non-essential activities.
But is enjoying life non-essential?
Event organizer and DJ Afromance, who is responsible for popular events like Maguro House and Sakura Chill Bar, posted a Tweet which has over 4,000 likes at time of writing in which he took a stand. His message in support of action, which he attached as an image to his Tweet (and shared on his Instagram account), is an urgent reminder that fun is not canceled.
We need fun
Right now, many things are being canceled, and the whole world is exhausted. It's nobody in particular, just that everyone is having a hard time.
It's the kind of situation where anyone who tries to do something says: “the least risky thing is to do nothing.” With gloomy news and comments every day, you can't make careless remarks on social media.
The next thing you know, both your mood and the economy are sinking into darkness. What can you do? To be honest, nobody has the perfect solution.
But there's one thing which is never wrong: “It's not bad to have fun.”
First and foremost, let's do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus. Then, each and everyone of us, let's think positively, take action, promote and welcome “fun” which can brighten our surroundings.
We can't let ourselves be swallowed up by this mood. There's absolutely no need to go so far as canceling our very feelings. Let's keep our economy running through the kind of “fun” we can do right now, and in so doing, let's brighten up our world.
Taking up his suggestion to share the message broadly, along with the hashtag #楽しいが必要だ, many event organizers, artists and creators reacted in a sign of solidarity.
We've collected a few representative posts below:
Bunkei, creative director and former half of the pair behind the popular PAOPAO Channel on YouTube (discontinued in May 2019) responded with:
”Recently, we've been haunted by fear and worry, but I don't want to lose the spirit of having fun."
Popular cosplayer, model and wig maker non, who some readers may recall from her anthropomorphic dog photobook project Wonderful Wonder, voiced her agreement in both Japanese and English:
Chihe, organizer of Re:animation, Japan's premiere outdoor rave for anime song and game song lovers as well as techno and house music fans posted the following message:
"I get the feeling people are saying: 'Let's exercise self-restraint because of the coronavirus!!' and they feel like that's an endorsement to attack people who engage in activities. Japanese people sure do love endorsements. It should be "doing something is normal" and "canceling is abnormal" (...) I think those who attack don't have enough fun in their lives."
Takeshi Kato, representative of theater unit GAIA_crew, playwright, actor, writer and DJ, had this to say:
"I absolutely agree with this. No matter what situation we're in, we mustn't stop having fun because it doesn't take much for our hearts to die... Let's begin by having fun looking for what we can do! I experienced having my heart filled with peer pressure and criticism nine years ago this March, and I've had enough of it."
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