Koyasan, and Social Distancing When Traveling (or lack thereof)

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

Happy November!

And here we are at this time in 2020. Finally. November. In Japan, this usually means it's autumn colours month here in Kansai. I know with COVID19, it's best to stay indoors... but could not resist the chance to be away from the big cities and out in the countryside for the autumn colours.

I was really hoping without the tourists, there would be less people in Koyasan, which is about 2 hours away from Osaka.

However, it seemed like everyone had the same mindset to leave the house for autumn colours, because the crowds in Koyasan this Sunday (11/1) was almost like the tourists never disappeared. All the express trains (that require reserve seating) to and from Koyasan were all fully booked out. The non-reserve express train I had taken to Koyasan were also pretty busy too. Not packed, but all the seats were taken. On the platform at Hashimoto station early in the morning, there were tons of people waiting for the connecting train.

We arrived in Okunoin at around 10:30 am. The large parking lot there was full. Everywhere were also packed with day trippers and tons of local overnighters with suitcases and bags. The sweets shops in the main downtown area all had lines out the door when our bus passed by. Restaurants that were opened were already busy at 10:30 am.

It was like the tourists never even disappeared at all.

People are definitely not really practicing social distancing at all anymore. I mean, it is safer out in the nature I guess.

But in public transportation, it seems like people have given up already for the sake of convenience. No one wants to wait an extra 10 minutes for another cable car when it's already there are we can clearly fit. And we definitely don't want to wait another extra 30 or 40 minutes for the next train or bus. Especially in rural areas where the frequency of trains are more sparse. We'd rather just all crowd in the bus like old times, and be on with life. The staff don't seem to be all that bothered either, despite seeing so many people pack into a cable car or a bus. And for that reason... If there's any place I am nervous about, it is definitely public transport.

Whilst commuting to work, I am slowly noticing that people are foregoing the masks or wearing it under their nose nowadays. Young and old.

Because the adults don't seem to take it all too seriously either, young school children who I see during my commutes are also going back to their old ways. Sticking really close to friends and chatting, taking off their masks to drink water and wipe their face, etc. Most of them still wear masks because they know that adults can tattle-tale on them to their school for not wearing a mask, but I feel they are definitely the ones most fatigued.

Mask fatigue. I think that's probably the best way to describe this.

I'm thankful that most people in this country will still wear a mask out of conformity. However, I feel Japan could be doing so much more... and I suppose that's a discussion for another time. For now, I just wanted to highlight what I'm seeing as I'm traveling (for work & leisure).

Anyway, please enjoy the pictures of the start of autumn colours here in Kansai!

Thanks for reading! See you all next blog!

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