I've lived in Japan for 9 months so far, this time around. And as always, I continue to get a kick out of this place. Here are some random things that make me smile:
All of my students here have been very interested in what my favorite "character" is--everyone, young and old, loves a particular character, it seems. Hello Kitty is the most popular internationally. Anpanman is the favorite of little kids (check out this crazy link comparing Anpanman to Jesus!). A cartoon capybara is really popular this year. My favorite since childhood is the old school Little Twin Stars:
You can always tell someone's favorite character, because they will have a random charm or stuffed animal attached to their bag, if their bag is not printed all over with the character. I love how Japan is so into cuteness!
Everyone in Japan is covered under the government socialized health insurance. It does have its downside (the large annual tax!) but for the most part, it is awesome. Last week, Fox walked into a chiropractor's office for some shoulder pain he was having. He was seen immediately, treated, and then given a half hour massage--and walked out, paying about $8.
Maternity care is awesome, too, especially from my natural-minded standpoint. The idea here is that there really is no reason for epidurals or not breastfeeding. My favorite handout in my maternity care packet is one that says, "After 24 weeks of pregnancy, please sit topless in the sun every day for 15 minutes to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding." Um, sure!
Okay, I don't know about contemporary fortune tellers in Japan, but it used to be really common here to go to one who would help you name your children. My favorite story of this is: My friend and her husband went to a fortune teller when they were having their first child, about forty years ago. The fortune teller spent a long time thinking and finally came up with the perfect name for their first child: Koichi (translation--Ko means child, Ichi means one/first). Awesome.
The word "toes" in Japanese is "ashi-no-yubi", which literally translates into "foot fingers". So awesome.
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