Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Greetings From Otaku-no-Anime

The other day, my daughter came out of her room, and I did a double-take. She was wearing one of those Japanese gauze eye patches I will forever associate with anime characters, since most of my experience with them has been in 2D form. "Why are you doing Rei Ayanami cosplay?" I asked, and she laughed, telling me that she'd been hit in the face with a ball at school and the nurse put the eye patch on her just to be safe. Yes, the way the brain develops associations is interesting.
Japan's medical system is well organized; my daughter is wearing a "Rei Ayanami" eye patch these days.
Yesterday I experienced that Great Democratizer, the full body health checkup, called ningen dock or "human dock" in Japanese. (The idea is that you're docking yourself like a ship in drydock to be refitted.) While reasons for Japan's famous longevity include a healthier diet high in fish, a safe society and human-to-human social networks that provide ikigai (literally "reason for living") late in life, another big part is a well-organized health care system built around this formal ningen dock system. On the day of your check-up, you arrive at the dedicated hospital facility, which does nothing but these standardized procedures, and all morning you're poked and prodded and measured in every way possible, with blood drawn, an EKG recorded, ultrasonic images of internal organs checked, and so on. Since stomach cancer is such a big problem in Japan, there are many well-developed options for checking for stomach problems, too.