“Have a breather”, is a phrase that exists in Japanese too: “ippuku o suru”.
It means exactly the same thing in Japanese, both to take a break, and to take a breath of fresh air.
Tokyo during the Covid pandemic was never in full lock down, and there are always people in the smoking area.
It is an unnerving feeling going for a lunch break with a friend, and then breathing in strangers’ smoke in that situation. Somehow though, (although it might just be the nicotine), there is also a strange warmth finding oneself in the midst of swirling sunlit smoke.
*NB: The painter is not a smoker.