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Up Close & Personal View of the Japanese Health Care System

And a Big Parade


And we're off! Been in Japan for nearly three days now . . .

. . . and have already had the dubious pleasure of carting Pam off to a hospital to begin battle with a nasty infection. By mid evening she was feeling unwell, by the wee hours her condition had worsened, and by the early morning Saturday it had become clear that she required medical attention. It turns out that after-hours and weekend ERs or urgent care clinics are not common in Japan. The nearby University Medical School and Hospital discourages walk-ins unless a condition appears life-threatening. We contacted staff at our landlord's office; though initially they were about as much at sea as we were, they really rose to the occasion and, by about 9:30, had identified a suburban hospital open until noon. And we were off -- a twenty minute subway ride took us more or less door-to-door.

The Takeda Hospital reception desk was sort of taken aback by our arrival. This was not a hospital that catered to non-Japanese-speaking foreigners. (I was the only Caucasian we observed at the hospital.) Nobody on staff spoke English, so we coped by means of Pam's limited and rusty Japanese, charades, on-the-spot on-line research, a paper dictionary, etc. To the credit of the hospital, everyone we encountered was gracious, thoughtful, and patient towards the end of making sure that both they and we understood what was going on.IMG_20161022_112812.jpg Despite the seeming chaos of the packed hospital hallways, IMG_20161022_111550.jpgwe managed to get there, get in, get lab tests and an ultrasound, see a doc, get a prescription filled (at a next door pharmacy) and arrive home in under four hours. Total bill, including tests, doc, hospital, and prescription -- wait for it -- about $150! Followup already scheduled for next Saturday. We're now optimistic; stay tuned.

Our visit to Takeda Hospital in Kyoto's southeastern suburbs revealed what should have been obvious over our past several visits: Not all of Kyoto is chic, posh, sophisticated, fashionable or rich. Takeda served what was pretty clearly a working class community -- regular people, many aging, some disabled, wearing work pants, house dresses, and sporting little that speaks to the high falutin' hipster/fashionista/high culture image of Kyoto.

Pam's spirits have roller-coastered from high (we're back in Japan!) to miserably, sobbingly low, to hey, I'm probably gonna be alright, to . . . we're headed out for dinner shortly. The best news of the hospital shortened day? just as we returned from the hospital, sad that we'd lost a day so early in our trip, literally 150 feet from our little house was a mammoth four hour parade, the Jidai Matsuri, reflecting the history of Kyoto from the Meiji restoration era (1868) back to the beginning of the Heian period in 781. DSCN6674.jpgDSCN6683.jpgDSCN6692.jpgDSCN6729.jpgDSCN6740.jpgDSCN6762.jpg

Came home from the parade, napped, and did a bit of electronic housekeeping. Though I'm no Luddite, the degree to which charging various cameras/Kindles/phones, moving photos from camera and phone to computer and internet and email has become part of our travel routine, represents an enormous qualitative change in how we travel. And I'm only beginning to learn what all I can (or can't -- I haven't quite got the hang of answering calls yet, so wait till the callers give up, then return calls) do with my infernal new smartphone toy.

After all of the above, late this afternoon we headed out for an early dinner at an interesting looking udon restaurant I'd stumbled across on a neighborhood surveillance walk yesterday. We were not disappointed; yet another amazing serendipitous find. Easily the best nabeyaki udon we've ever had -- the broth was rich, complex yet light, the noodles, egg, shrimp, tofu, burdock root, greens, green onions, shiitake mushroom, yuba . . . prepared by a young couple meticulously focused on every element of taste and aesthetics in their small (counter seating only) restaurant. DSCN6770.jpg

Our third dinner; our third winner. What a day.

Posted by pokano 05:21 Archived in Japan

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What a jolt to start a trip! Take care - I know that goes without saying, but anyway . .

by Seiko Kusachi

We had a similar experience in Peru - twice! Once to get Misa checked/treated for a UTI in Cusco. Second time to get Tracy treated for altitude sickness/dehydration in Ollantetambo.
Hope all is well now Pam!

by Stan Shikuma

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