David Chart's Japan Diary

November 21st 2006

Well, I got the rush writing job finished on time, but I now have a pile of editing work to catch up on, as well as a non-rush writing job to finish, so I can't afford to spend a vast amount of time on this diary entry.

I went to immigration today to hand in my extension application, and that was very straightforward. The whole process should be fairly simple, so I expect to be going back in a couple of weeks or so. One definite advantage to living just outside Tokyo is getting to use the smaller and quieter Yokohama immigration office. It's also really handy from the underground station, now that I know the best way to get there.

Last week, I had my government-sponsored health check. As far as I can tell it's a national program, although since health insurance is administered through the cities it may just be Kawasaki. 35 and 38 year-olds get a free check, including a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, and blood and urine tests, as well as measuring height and weight. Apart from my asthma, the tests turned up the fact that my cholesterol is apparently a bit high, and I was slightly over the ideal weight for my height.

Middle age is indubitably upon me.

Mind you, I've managed to lose 2.5kg in a week, according to the scales, so there's something a bit odd about that weight measurement. The plan is to cut down on eggs, bacon, and chocolate biscuits. We already eat lots of vegetables, and more fish than meat, so minor adjustments should be enough. (My cholesterol was only a bit high, so I don't think I need to panic.)

I'm also keeping up my exercise, which was another of the doctor's recommendations. A couple of weeks ago I switched from doing exercises indside to going for brisk walks around the area near the house. This has the additional advantage that, while I'm walking, I can listen to Japanese new podcasts, which keeps me up to date and gives me more Japanese listening practice. Pure spoken Japanese is the hardest form of listening comprehension, because there are no other cues, and the news involves rapid changes of subject, and thus vocabulary, so it's still a bit tricky. I can generally put just about everything together after the second time, so the 15-20 minute podcasts from the Yomiuri Shinbun are just the right length for my 30-40 minute walks.

I think the free health check is a very good idea. 35 is about the age when the "diseases of civilisation" start to show up (in Japan, they're called "adult disease"), so it's a good time to check and take action to stop things becoming serious. After all, it's much, much easier for me to stop eating eggs now than to deal with clogged arteries in twenty years' time. I don't know whether the UK does anything similar; I got a postcard telling me to go, so the authorities are somewhat active in promoting it. It isn't compulsory, but I think you'd have to be silly not to go.

Work is generally going fine, although for some reason most of my students can't have lessons this week; Tuesday and Saturday are both completely empty. Indeed, the only day that all my students do want their lessons in Thursday, which is a national holiday. Oh well, national holidays have never made any difference to me; no point starting now.