Japan is doing its best to deal with the outbreak of the "new-type influenza virus" that has taken hold here, with 302 cases officially reported, although no deaths thanks to Japan's excellent medical system. Everywhere you go, Japanese consumers are snapping up those health masks and wearing them to keep the germs away. The influenza fear is having an effect on the economy, too, as travel plans to areas where flu cases have been reported are cancelled, including my son's scheduled school trip to Kyoto next month (it's been put off for a year). Prime Minister Aso has appeared on TV and urged people to remain calm, but I know this has to run its course: once Japanese people have decided they're going to freak out about something, everyone gets on board. This is thanks to the concept of migi e narae (migi eh nah-rah-eh), an old army command that literally means "Copy the person on your right!" although it's more useful to think of it as "me, too-ism." Basically, this word describes the Japanese tendency to do whatever people them are doing. If you're concerned about the new influenza, the best advice might be to stay home and avoid unnecessary contact with others. To that end, I recommend everyone buy cool stuff from J-List. That's a great idea!
Japan is currently undergoing fear of the new influenza. Good thing we stocked up on Hello Kitty masks.