Archive for December, 2008

Christmas Outfit

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

As a child I was always bought a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day.  It made the day seem more special.  This year I have nothing new to wear.  It’s not easy for me to buy clothes in Japan and though I can think of a few shops I could travel to being ill has mostly kept me inside the apartment.

Last night I was looking at the Christmas section on I noticed that they were selling Christmas costumes and I was curious to see what their Santa outfits would look like.  I came across a Daisy Santa outfit – which is not something I plan to wear this Christmas.  I’m not quite sure who Daisy is but a black Christmas outfit just doesn’t seem right.

Amazon Daisy Santa Outfit

Amazon Daisy Santa Outfit

Talking Apartment

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

There are things I don’t understand about our new apartment.  Today I heard some strange noises whilst I was in the shower.  And when I was getting dressed something started talking in the living room.

There are a variety of things that can speak in the apartment.  There is an intercom system that allows us to speak to people at the front of the apartment building and I assume that security can use it to speak to us.  The heating system speaks when you adjust the temperature of the water.  I think that the alarm system can also speak.  I have no idea what was speaking today but it made me jump.

Japanese Pharmacists

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Last week I went to a pharmacy for the first time since I moved to Japan.  Marty had gone for me before and he hadn’t mentioned any of the differences.  The first thing I had to do was register.  They wanted my name and address.  Then I had to fill in a medical questionnaire regarding any medication I was currently on, what symptoms I currently had, and what the doctor had told me about the medication I was about to be given.

I was there to pick up a prescription for the common cold.  After filling in my symptoms and the required information I was then interviewed by the pharmacist. So I got to waste someone else’s time discussing my rather pathetic cold.

The pharmacist also advised me to use a book to record my medication in.  This book is provided for free but you have to pay a bit extra for each prescription ( a bit being about 20 円, (15p or 22 cents)) as they print out a sticker for the book.  This is an excellent idea.  It means I don’t need to know the Japanese names for my medication and I won’t need to fill in questionnaires or try to explain what I am taking to someone else.

It was nothing like going to get prescription medication in Belfast.  In Belfast you pick up prescription medicine in a chemist that is going to also sell over-the-counter medicine as well as everything from shampoo to face cream.  In Japan these things are bought in drug stores and prescription medicine is dispensed in a pharmacy. Over-the-counter medicine in Japan is still actually behind a counter.  In Belfast you can pick up pain-killers and cold medicine in a garage or a supermarket.  And these are no longer behind a counter in a chemist.  It does make it harder for me to buy tablets in Japan, as I need to know how to ask for them, but it does seem to be a much safer system if less convenient.

Japanese Christmas Food

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I really like traditional Christmas food.  This year we are going out to Roti in Roppongi for Christmas dinner.

The Japanese have started to produce their own Christmas food.  I have been amused by the adverts from Moss Burger wishing people a “Happy X-Moss” and advertising some sort of chicken they plan to sell for Christmas.  Kentucky Fried Chicken produces their version of a Christmas dinner, described as a premium roast chicken, which is sold in a “roast chicken barrel“.  These are very popular and need to be ordered in advance.

The Japanese also have their own Christmas cake.  It’s expensive and made with strawberries and cream.  I’m not that fond of it but I eat it anyway.

Japanese Christmas Cake

Japanese Christmas Cake

Hospital Visit

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I spent all morning at the Ito Hospital.  It was horrible.  I arrived at 8:00am just as it opened.  It took about 10 minutes for me to register as a patient.  By that stage I was already number 267 on the waiting list.  I went up to the waiting room and managed to find a chair.  I was very lucky as the room, which probably held around 200 people comfortably, was already holding more than 300 patients and whatever family members they had brought with them.  And it got worse.  By 9:00am I reckon there were more than 500 people in that room.  It was getting difficult to see the monitors or to work out how to get through the crowds to reach the examination rooms.

When I finally got to see a doctor he didn’t completely agree with the opinion of the doctor I had seen the day before.  Both agree that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  But they disagree as to how serious my hypothyroidism is.  So I got to wait for another 3 hours to have another ultrasound done.  How different can it be to the one that was done on Wednesday afternoon?

I have to go back on the 10th January for more blood tests, another ultrasound and maybe a biopsy.  On the plus side that’s nearly a whole month without having to see a doctor.

Dinner Party

Friday, December 12th, 2008

We had our first guest to the new apartment tonight.  Everything went really well until we got to the dessert.  I had forgotten to put the Christmas puddings on to steam.  As this would take at least 30 minutes Marty suggested running upstairs to the Sky Lounge and heating them in the microwave.  He poked holes into the lids with a fork and went upstairs.  But he arrived back really quickly as the Lounge was closed.

Now we have three little Christmas puddings that can’t be steamed because of holes in their lids.

Christmas Play-list

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

At the minute the only Christmas music I get to hear is the really annoying, speeded up, cheesy sounding type that they play in supermarkets to torment shoppers.  I was practically galloping around the store today to “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.

To rectify this problem I created a Christmas play-list.  Since I really like carols and choirs my play-list was starting to sound a bit serious and was lacking any of the fun music associated with Christmas.  I decided to find myself a copy of “Christmas Time” by “The Darkness”.  What I ended up with was some awful thing called “Christmas Time” by “Darkness” from an album called “Christmas Hits”.  I really don’t know how this happened.  Looking at the iTunes store now this song is listed as being by “Backstreet Boys”.  Most definitely a waste of 79p even if the pound is tanking.

Cold Medicine

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Today I had to go to the Doctors.  When I woke up I considered not going because I didn’t feel well.  That my sound strange but I wouldn’t normally bother a doctor with something as simple as the common cold.  And given that my throat was sore, my nose was running, and I kept wanting to sneeze I assumed that’s what I had.  I didn’t even have an appointment to cancel, (the surgery charges 5,250 円 (38 GBP, 57 USD) for one), as I had planned to walk in and wait.  In the end I decided to go anyway because I was really keen to get some blood tests out of the way.

I’m not quite sure how long I spent waiting.  Part of the wait was my own fault as I arrived an hour before the end of their lunch break.  And even though I was near the start of the queue they don’t necessarily see people in the order that they arrive.  It was worth the wait as I got to see an experienced doctor who ordered all my blood tests and quite a few more that I wasn’t expecting.  At first I didn’t mention the cold as it has been drummed into me by doctors in the U.K. that colds are not something you should waste a doctor’s time on.  But when the doctor was looking at my file he pointed out that my body temperature now appeared to be normal when before it was slightly too low.

My body temperature appeared normal because I was running a slight fever.  And the doctor then checked my ears, nose, and throat and proclaimed that I had a cold and that he would prescribe medication for this.  He then went on to ask me what my preferences in cold medication were and I told him that I have never been prescribed anything for a cold before.  This made him smile.  He likes the U.K. policy of not visiting a doctor with a cold but told me that in Japan many people prefer to get a prescription from the doctor for this.  I took the prescription.

And now I can tell people that a man who has been a Court physician to the Emperor of Japan treated me for the common cold.

The Weather Outside Is … Warm.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

When I was out yesterday I was surrounded by people who were wearing multiple layers of clothes, hats, scarves, and gloves. I know it’s December and that in Japan December is considered to be winter but why dress for winter when it’s still 18 degrees C ( 64 degrees F) outside?

Christmas Food

Monday, December 8th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago one of my friends sent me a thank you gift that contained packets of Maltesers.  Since moving to Japan I have started to crave these little chocolate honeycomb balls.  Marty also loves Maltesers so they disappeared much too quickly.

Not surprisingly Maltesers aren’t the only thing I miss eating in Japan.  As a Christmas treat I ordered us some food from one of the online British food stores.  It’s expensive to do this, because of the postage costs, but I really wanted a traditional Christmas pudding, cake, and mince pies. In my last order I decided to get some Maltesers.  I must not have been paying enough attention at the time because I made a bit of a mistake.  Today I received 16 boxes of Maltesers. Anyone fancy a game of Malteser Jenga?

Maltesers Stacked on the Table

Maltesers Stacked on the Table