Japan, a unique survivor, needs to reinvent itself

It is as if thousands of pedestrians rushing home, all in dark business suits or dresses, are part of a Tim Burton movie set — with dimly lit walkways and dozens of blacked-out flat TV panels akin to mysterious dark windows protruding from the walls without any images. Some passers-by are dressed warmly as heaters are off at an early hour. Some vending machines at the station are unplugged — something unusual for this electronics-crazed nation, to save energy. So are neon-signs of karaoke studios and nightclubs nearby. After a few days of no-business, now restaurants, coffee and ramen shops are packed with salary men and ordinary clients.

Overheard conversations in a coffee shop revealed plans for the upcoming Golden Week — the first week of May when Japanese people traditionally take time off to rest or travel overseas, staying with families and away from their hectic lives. Without any doubt, the most eye-catching advertising travel package was an "Evacuation Tour"— playing on the public sentiment — for those who want a temporary escape abroad. Lots of Japanese are choosing to remain inside the country to show solidarity with their suffering compatriots up north. The people here are good at showing self-restraint as they know how to behave and react to common crisis.

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Lights go out as Tokyo lives on through power shortage

The giant TVs are silent, the neon lights dark and the bars of Tokyo half-empty. Two weeks after Japan’s deadly earthquake, the city that once never slept is learning to live with a new era of frugality.

Many public escalators are idle, the trains less frequent and the usually overflowing shelves of the round-the-clock convenience stores sparsely stocked.

In the daytime, under the crisp winter skies, the city almost seems to have recovered from the shock of the massive March 11 earthquake which sent a huge tsunami crashing into northeast Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis.

But nightfall reveals the reality — a fortnight after the twin disaster struck, the capital is still a shadow of its former self.

Nowhere is the contrast more evident than in the usually vibrant teen fashion district of Shibuya

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