Nesting at Home

Austrian Airlines terminates flight operations

The Friday night drama series, “Byoshitsu de Nembutsu o Tonaenaide Kudasai (Prayers in the Emergency Room),” has finished. I would like to thank everyone for watching the drama series.

It was time to say farewell to the days of being involved in the production of the series, which started off by being offered a part by Aki Isoyama who is an integral part of the history of TBS dramas, Akihiko Watase with whom I also worked in the past in the drama “JIN,” Yutaka Tawada who has produced dramas like “Nigeru wa Haji daga Yaku ni Tatsu (We Married as a Job!) ,” and Nobuhiko Takayama with whom I worked in “IQ246,” and was later followed by working under the supervision of directors like Shunichi Hirano with whom I worked in the drama “Anatani-wa Kaeru Ie-ga Aru (You Have a Place to Go Home to)” and carefully studying the script written by Tomoko Yoshizawa, while spending time dealing with the issue of life and death with all my wonderful costars, including Hideaki Ito and Tsuyoshi Muro.

On the night of the day we finished filming, I actually jumped on a plane and hurried back to my home in the mountains of Salzburg, where I have placed myself under voluntary house arrest, in Austria, which has now closed all of its borders.

I have heard that cherry blossom viewing is in full swing in Japan, and schools will be reopening soon, but here in Europe, alerts have been issued with only the bare minimum of essential businesses remaining open, such as grocery stores, hospitals, drugstores, gas stations and post offices. Restaurants have closed of course, and even cafés and fast food restaurants have all closed. People are only allowed out of their houses to buy food and medicine, go to the hospital, and take the occasional stroll. Meeting people other than family members is also prohibited. Children too, have to isolate themselves by not going to the park, and their parents are stressed out from having to deal with children, too young to understand the coronavirus situation, but bursting with energy.

As you are no doubt aware, tragic images of hundreds of dead people being transported by trucks, just across the border in Italy, are being shown on the news every day almost as if it were wartime. Above all, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the courage and dedication of medical workers who are putting their own lives on the line in striving to save the lives of other people. France is also in a state of complete chaos, and a doctor, who is accustomed to seeing people die, cried while being interviewed, saying, “It’s the first time I’ve seen so many people die, and I don’t know what to do.”

It’s at times like this that I recall what my character, Dr. Miyake, said in the drama I was acting in only until a few days ago; “I became a doctor because I wanted to save people, but upon becoming one, I’ve been forced to see just as many people die as I save. I’ve learned how to help people, but not how to accept their deaths. I can’t sleep, and it’s unbearable…”

I have no idea how long this state of house arrest is going to continue, but I’ve come to realize how lucky I am to be alive, and have enough food to feed myself.

Incidentally, in Austria where people have grown accustomed to recycling in everyday life, I am proud to say that toilet paper made from recycled paper is being produced in huge quantities, and people have not resorted to panic buying.

Perhaps this coronavirus disaster will become a major turning point in people’s senses of value throughout the world. I pray for everyone’s safety.

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