Today’s a special day for me: I arrived in Japan one month ago, and it’s the first day of the Tohoku University Festival, which is held at Kawauchi campus. I was unable to go before the evening, and in the dark it’s difficult to get good photos. However, the main stage was illuminated, so I took a lot of pictures of the cheerleaders’ performance. Very nice!
There were a lot of food stalls. I ate Kirimochi with some kind of Anko-based sauce and a fried mix of Soba (noodles) and rice. Luckily the festival continues over the weekend, so I hope I’ll be able to get more pictures. 😉
After spraining my ankle on Monday, I’ve spent most of the week at home because the doctor told me to rest it (and it also felt like I should). This brought me in touch with the medical system in Japan. The first thing I do when injured or ill is going to the university’s health center. When I had a cold, I paid only 82 Yen for the examination and medication for two days. However, they couldn’t help me too much with the ankle, so they told me how to get to an appropriate expert. The nurses at the health center don’t speak very much English (the doctor I saw about the cold did). The fact that we were still able to communicate fairly well is quite a boost to my confidence, and I learned the Japanese word for ankle: “足首” (ashikubi; 足 is “ashi” which means foot). If you want to say “My ankle hurts” in Japanese, you could say: “足首が痛いです。” (“Ashikubi ga itai desu”). In the waiting area at the doctor’s, they had this:
They had a lot more manga than shown in the picture. After the examination, my ankle was treated with massage, electricity and warmth. The “electrical treatment” is weird but fun: four electrodes are attached to the foot using suction cups, and electrical pulses cause the muscles to contract and relax in patterns depending on the pulses. I had similar treatments each day until Thursday. Japan’s National Health Insurance pays 70% of my medical costs, for the remaining 30% I had to pay a little more than 5000 Yen. This is a lot more than I would have paid in a similar case in Germany, on the other hand I probably wouldn’t have gotten this kind of treatment there. I didn’t even have to get appointments. When talking about Germany, the doctor knew Shinji Kagawa and told me that he played in Sendai for a few years. I looked it up, apparently he pretty much grew up here.
On the way home on Monday I stopped at a small food shop to buy some carrots. The difficulty was that I didn’t see carrots as I entered the shop and didn’t know the Japanese word for them. I tried to explain what I was looking for in Japanese (pointing to radish: “Like this, only smaller and in orange…”), but in the second try the shopkeeper understood the English word. I asked for the Japanese term, it’s にんじん (ninjin). The older Japanese ladies who were sitting in the shop and talking seemed to have a lot of fun listening to the conversation. 😀
Yesterday the weather got cold pretty suddenly, so I started using the electrical heater in my room. I also bought a power strip to have enough sockets at my desk – before, my fiber modem had been using the socket intended for the heater. And where did I buy the power strip? At the コンビニ, of course! They also have a printer/scanner/some-more-stuff-thing, which I used today. At 10 Yen per page for printing it was neither cheaper nor more expensive than a similar service would have been in Germany.
Another thing I did yesterday was picking up my “Certificate of Alien Registration”, better known as “Alien Registration Card”. It is an identity card for foreigners living in Japan which I need to carry with me whenever I leave my home. On the way to the ward office, I bought an interesting kind of sweet at the shop displayed below: A rice cake, filled with cheese filled with blueberry cream. Sounds crazy, but it’s delicious! The shop also looks very nice with the small building tucked between the higher ones.
And what can I say after living in Japan for a month? I love it and I’m glad to be here!