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Podcast With A Blindness Perspective.

Aug 12, 2020

Every day we turn on the  news to see and hear the news with statistics, cases, test rates and more  reports about COVID-19, to the [point of saturation.  We hear of how the coronavirus has impacted people all over the world, but we rarely if ever hear specific reports of its effect on blind and visually impaired individuals.

In this ongoing Blind Abilities series, Around the World with COVID-19 from a blindness perspective, we have spanned the globe, introducing blind guests from Around the world, from Australia and Malaysia, to the united kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and the US. Today we hear a first-hand report from Hiroyuki Shinagawa.

Konichiwa with yet a different perspective on how the coronavirus has affected him in Osaka, Japan.

Hiroyuki is a massage therapist in Osaka, and shares with us the impact  of Corona and Covid-19 on the Japanese people, inside and outside Osaka, including a unique insight into the Japanese culture which we have previously not seen in this series. Hiroyuki speaks of the progression of the coronavirus over recent months, giving his insight into the role of the Japanese people, and the effect which the virus has had on the citizens of Osaka, and the blindness community as well.

As usual, Blind Abilities has inserted excerpts from real  news stories to enhance the report and paint a tine-line for you to better understand the sequence of the COVID-19 progression. 

Also, here is a script of Hiroyuki's report:

Hello all,

My name is Hiroyuki Shinagawa.

Konichiwa from Osaka, Japan.

Osaka is one of the 47 prefectures in Japan, surrounded by Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama.

I am a totally blind and massage practitioner.

In Japan, massage and acupuncture are traditional job for the blind.

There are many different styles of work in the massage field: 

some people open their own massage salons, 

some work in hospitals, 

some are hired by companies to work in massage rooms, 

and others visit client's houses and nursing home for rehabilitation purposes.

In Japan, the new coronavirus has been in the news since the end of January.

Every day in February, the cruise ship Diamond Princess was the hot topic in the news.

Around that time, it was increasing the number of people tested positive for the virus, but there were not many death cases.

In March, however, a famous Japanese comedian passed away by COVID-19, 

which had a great impact on Japanese people.

The state of emergency was declared in Osaka on April 7.

I work in the company's massage room, and my company decided to close it temporarily from that day, and we had to stay home.

Our massage room is run by three therapists.

The other employees of the company were also ordered to stay home.

Most of them started to work from home.

But, we could not.

It was the time of self isolated.

There were no penalties in Japan.

It was voluntary quarantine.

We were required to:

stay home,

don't go out to other prefectures.

libraries and movie theaters were ordered to close.

            restaurants and bars should be closed at 8 p.m.

Massage places were able to remain open, but many clients were discouraged from going out.

Also, the therapists who visit and give massages at nursing homes were restricted entering the facilities.

The state of emergency was lifted in Osaka on May 22.

My stay at home continued and I wasn't able to go to work until June 22.

What we are doing to prevent infection in our massage room is

Clients are needed to take their body temperature before receiving a massage.

We use the disposable sheet to cover the massage table,

And after the treatment, we wipe the bed, mat, and undressing cage with alcohol-laced paper.

While the state of emergency was declared,

there seemed to be very few people walking the streets.

The blind people rely on the sounds around us.

Some of my friends told me that there was no crowd at a busy train station.

So, it was so hard to find the place where they wanted to go and it was very difficult to walk.

The sounds of ticket gates, footsteps and conversations, and other sounds that might give us a clue.

They were all gone.

In such cases, the Be My Eyes app was very helpful.

There is one of welfare services that the visually impaired people can use when they go out somewhere.

It's the accompanying assistance service. 

Many people use this service when they go out to the hospital, shopping, or concert hall, but I have never used it.

But, some blind people don't feel free going out as before.

because helpers refuse to go out for fear of infection.

On the other hand, there were many visually impaired people who don't want to go out with the same reason.

I hear that the income of the helpers' offices is decreasing and faces business difficulty.

I'm often out by myself with a white cane, it is a good exercise for me.

During staying at home, I lost that valuable time.

I had tried running and stretching in my room.

There were people who uploaded yoga and stretching videos with voice guidance for the blind, which was very helpful.

I used to go to the gym for the disabled and swim once a week, but I can not make a time to go.

Before pandemic, that facility was open until 9pm, so I always went there after work, but now it closes at 5pm. 

Also, people are required to apply a week in advance and have to be selected in a lottery.

Oh my fat!

I can't wait to burn off the fat in my belly.

Well, what is the situation now?

Two months ago, anyone could sit on a commuter train, but now it's full of people standing.

And the evening trains are crowded more than before. Maybe, many people want to go home early.

In daily life, what I'm taking care for are:

wearing the mask,

keeping the social distancing,

and washing hands.

I think that most important things is:

no touch my face by fingers.

Japanese government give us the advice:

avoid three Cs.

Three Cs are:

closed spaces,

crowded places,

close-contact settings.

By the way, Osaka is one of popular place for tourists.

Before February, I could hear many kinds of foreign languages on the platform of subway station, mainly Chinese.

Now, no chance to hear it.

Do you remember?

The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was scheduled on July 24, 2020.

As you know, the Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed to next year.

Since the middle of July, we have seen an increase in the number of positive cases in Tokyo.

It's also increasing in Osaka.

Last week, the highest number is reported.

I wonder what the world will be like this time next year.

Hey everybody,

Stay healthy and wealthy!

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