I managed to catch a natsu-kaze or “summer cold” which has knocked me out for the past couple of days, so I thought I’d write about what it’s like to be sick in Japan. I went to the doctor and was given several envelopes of prescription medicines including antibiotics, congestion medication, plus this awful powder you have to swallow. (I noted that the dispensing nurse took care to explain what each type of medicine was for, which is a fairly new development that I believe came about due to foreigners living here and asking for specific information that Japanese patients never thought to inquire about.) When Japanese get sick they eat a watery rice porridge called okayu, and most Japanese detest Western-style oatmeal since it seems like something sick people should be eating. There’s a whole slew of local cold remedies here, my favorite of which involves boiling a leek until its soft, folding it inside a tenugui (a traditional hand towel from old Japan), then wrapping it around one’s neck and going to bed. Other ways to beat a cold include shoga-yu, hot water with grated fresh ginger in it and a little honey to improve the taste, or tamago-zake, or a raw egg added to hot sake. My preferred way of curing a cold is to put one of those Japanese fever-reducing sheets on my head then curl up in front of the TV to watch a few hours or anime.
There’s a lot of moe art about being sick, for some reason.