For most people in Tokyo, life two months past the March 11 quake and tsunami is back to usual. But it’s not as if nothing at all has happened. In addition to paying keener attention to minor rattles (will it get stronger? was that just the tail end of a much bigger quake elsewhere?) and keeping go-bags at the ready, the signs are small, but they are there. Signs in store windows, from convenience stores to fashion outlets, carry the ubiquitous cheer “Gambarou Nippon.” Company mascots, from Lee Jeans’ Buddy Lee to KFC’s Colonel, are joining in the rallying cry. Waiters at the hip Good Morning Cafe wear subtle red buttons with the same message.
Many are wondering if the coming summer will really bring the promised electricity cut-backs. Setsuden (energy-saving) measures are at once an attempt to stave off power reductions and a taste of what they would entail. What’s cooler than Cool Biz? Super Cool Biz. This year’s incarnation of the power-saving and sweat-inducing measures runs two months longer than last year and relaxes the standard business dress code even more. Where last year the most that a hot-under-the-collar salary man could get away with was ditching the coat and tie, this year he can lose the collar altogether. T-shirts, jeans and Hawaiian shirts will be permitted under the Ministry of Environment’s new guidelines. (Only nice jeans, though. Standards specify “no rips or holes.”)