Japan is the land of precaution. Anything that can possible disrupt the order of things, should be addressed beforehand. One such this is -wait for it- the flu.
As soon as the flu season started, everyone began stockpiling masks, medicine, vitamins, anything and everything that can protect your body. Even the big-time performers at the concert I attended warned the crowd; ‘Dress warm and be careful not to catch a cold, it’s THAT time of the year’. I agree completely with such an attitude, for health is our most valuable possession at the end of the day. Nonetheless, the overacting people around me, never fails to bring a smile to my face. For example, on the first day of November, my supervisor at work interrupted me with a serious face and announced with all formality ‘The influenza season started. It is not good to miss a day of work because of that. Be sure to be vaccinated as soon as possible.’ Flu vaccines are common back home, though young people usually don’t use them because they can get away with just a day or two of fever. What surprised me was that the reason to be cautious was not the rational ‘be careful, a simple cold might turn out badly’, rather the not-so-motivational-in-the-end ‘be careful, you might skip work and that’s bad, deadlines won’t wait’. Considering Japanese people’s love for short, cute words (e.g. platform->hom, smartphone->sumaho), the long term ‘influenza’ instead of the usual equivalent ‘flu’, only stresses the point. I will admit that in the beginning I was kinda freaked out, bringing to my mind the plague or something. And now that ‘influenza’ is at its peak, half of the population takes care of the other half that is sick or recovering. I came across a sweet scene at the office, where a female employee gave a new ‘magical’ vitamin++ bottle to a co-worker that complained that his cold was healing too slowly. Some vitamin bottles even have space on them for a message, in order to be gifted as presents, much like KitKat chocolate. Whether you are the ‘react’ or the ‘over-react’ type of person, always wear A CARDIGAN (Greek grandma talking) and 気を付けてね! (Japanese baachan talking).
P.S. some photos from the snow-covered Suzukakedai Campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology