It seems hard to believe that it was just a few weeks ago that the streets of Tokyo seemed half-deserted as people stayed at home and practiced jishuku as a show of solidarity with those affected by the tsunami in Tohoku. In the research groups we ran last week asking people were feeling about the quake now, it was clear that a very different attitude is now taking root.

Tokyo-ites are now out doing their bit to help by throwing restraint to the wind and spending money.

No doubt this was to some extent fuelled by calls in the media to keep the economy going, particularly as mainstream sources began to take up the cause of those in Tohoku making the call for people to keep their lives going and support the region through their economic choices.

On the other hand it’s undoubtedly also a reaction to quake fatigue, brought on by the start of a new year in April and the blooming of the Sakura.

In part this is a movement centered on Tohoku. Many of the people we spoke to claimed to be buying Tohoku products when available, with not one mentioning any of the much-hyped worries about radiation.

Even better, one of the girls in the better half”s office brought in a couple of crates of Tohoku-made coffee yesterday, purchased on the Internet and offered to colleagues with a note attached requesting they buy more if they like what they taste.

However for the most part this is more than just a valiant way to support the affected areas. The new attitude is also an excuse for some in Tokyo to get back to doing one of the things that the Japanese quite rightly have a reputation for… Shopping!

The merits of this in the long-term are open to debate but in the short-term people are taking it as an opportunity both to do their bit for the country and lift their own spirits. No wonder many seem to have taken the cause up with gusto.

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