For a long time, whenever I ate lunch with the students I couldn't help noticing that they held their chopsticks differently from me. At first I thought that it might be just a lack of table manners on their part, particularly as a lot of them seemed to be employing a crude-looking, clenched-fist technique.
Then one day a third-year homeroom teacher - having given me the standard 'Oh, you can use chopsticks!' compliment that most foreigners in Japan have heard a thousand times over - finally explained what I had been doing wrong (in other words, what he had really meant was, 'Oh, you can't use chopsticks properly!').
The basic principle of the chopsticks grip is to keep the lower stick stable and move the upper one, thus creating a pincer-like action, and on this point I was at least partially correct. My mistake, though, was in resting the lower chopstick on my middle finger and gripping the upper one with my index finger and thumb.
As the homeroom teacher demonstrated, what I should have been doing was resting the lower chopstick on my ring finger, and gripping the upper one with my middle finger, index finger and thumb.
This allows the user to spread the two chopsticks apart at a wider angle and to grasp larger food items, as well as being able to perfect a greater range of other, subsidiary skills, such as slicing and filleting.
The secret to this technique lies in the thumb: as you can see from the above photos, I had been keeping mine at too acute an angle in relation to my fingers, and once the homeroom teacher had pointed out that my thumb should be at least perpendicular, if not at an even more obtuse angle, the rest came relatively easily.
Those previously impenetrable grips used by my students suddenly made sense, and not only that, but over the coming days, I noticed that many of them are in the habit of holding their pens and pencils in the same fashion.
Ever since I was a child, I have had a bump on the first joint of my middle finger (in Japanese, this is called a pen-dako / ぺん胼胝) from resting pens and pencils there.
A significant minority - in fact, possibly even a majority - of the children I teach instead rest a pen or pencil on the first joint of their ring finger, in exactly the same way as they do the lower prong of the chopsticks pincer.
This seems odd if you're trying it for the first time, but entirely logical if you happen to eat that way as well, and to do both from a young age.
Even with this new grip, however, I still find it hard to pick up those smaller or slipperier food items - beans, individual grains of rice, noodles and so on - so while Mrs M uses slender, laquered chopsticks like this:
I am less likely to send fragments of food flying across the dinner table if my chopsticks have indentations at their tips, like this:
A recent article in the Tokyo Newspaper, though, suggests that a solution to this problem may be at hand:
Born out of cooperation between industry and academia - Concave structure 'hugs' the food
Enjoy your meal with non-slip chopsticks... Working alongside the laboratories of Tohoku University post-graduate professor Kazuo Hokkirigawa, moulded plastics manufacturing company Union Industries of Nakahara District, Kawasaki City has developed a new kind of chopstick called 'Takétori', which can cope with even the most hard-to-grasp foods. Union Industries' 65-year-old president Masahiko Morikawa says that 'Takétori are perfect for anyone who has trouble using chopsticks.'
The invention was sparked by an email that Professor Hokkirigawa received three years ago, which read, 'We've been looking for chopsticks that make food easier to eat for the residents at our old people's home, but we can't find any. Please can you develop something like this!' Having pondered the various theoretical requirements, Professor Hokkirigawa and his fellow researchers eventually came up with the 'hugging' structure.
In order to increase the area coming into contact with the food, the chopsticks were made with four concave surfaces at their tips, which in combination 'hugged' the food. Because the raised edges of each concave surface of the Takétori 'bite' into the food, bigger particles are easier to pick up.
The cooperative enterprise between Sendai City and Kawasaki City was born in August last year, when Hokkirigawa was searching for the materials to bring this structure to life. During a visit to Union Industries, Hokkirigawa had his first encounter with 'Unipéré', a combination of powdered bamboo and tree resin for which Union had acquired the patent.
Once Hokkirigawa had taken a sample back to his laboritories for testing, it was confirmed that Unipéré is between 30 and 70% more non-slip compared to plastics used for a similar purpose. Not only that, but the added value of its inherent antibacterial properties and environmental friendliness meant that Hokkirigawa's academics could embark on full-scale development of the product in cooperation with industry.
Professor Hokkirigawa says proudly, 'The special characteristic of the Takétori is that when you use them, it isn't the primary surface of the chopstick that supports the food, but its edges. This "hugging" construction is a world-first.'
From 1st May, Takétori will go on sale via the Union Industries' homepage, and at their Hamazoku shop at the Silk Centre in Naka District, Yokohama City. One set of Takétori costs 680 yen, excluding tax. Enquiries to Union Industries on 044-755-1107.
In case you're having trouble visualising the Takétori, seen end-on, rather than being round like a normal pair of chopsticks, they look like this.
680 yen is, it has to be said, extremely expensive for a pair of chopsticks, so for old folks and relatively old folks like me, here's hoping that Union Industries licences out the patent for general use.
The key test of the Takétori, though, will surely be their ability - or otherwise - to cope with natto, those sticky, slimy, slippery fermented soya beans so beloved of Ibaraki-ites...
(For the original article from the Tokyo Newspaper, Wednesday 1st May 2013, see below.)
Day 10 – Nemuro City to Betsukai (根室市 - 別海) - 100km
One of the motorcyclists from the Okaba rider house was already at Cape Nosappu (納沙布岬) when I arrived, and Mr Pine Origin turned up not long after, raving about a sanma (秋刀魚 / saury) set breakfast he had eaten along the way. Crab, too, is a local speciality, and a flotilla of crab fishing boats sailed into the bay at about ten in the morning, attracting flocks of both seagulls and sightseers.
After Cape Erimo, Cape Nosappu - the easternmost point in the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago - was the second extremity of Hokkaido on my circumnavigation, and home to a small museum with a huge stuffed sea lion in the foyer, a restaurant selling something called teppoh-jiru (鉄砲汁 / handgun soup) and Shima-no-kakéhashi (四島のかけはし), a monument symbolising the hope that Russia will one day be nice enough to give back some of the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan.
Possibly my favourite Japanese kanji are 凸凹, which not only have a satisfyingly onomatopoeic pronunciation - deko-boko* - but also an attractively symmetrical shape that in turn suggests their meaning. Individually they mean 'convex' and 'concave', and in combination 'uneven' or 'up and down', so the road from Cape Nosappu to Betsukai was deko-boko, and the further up each deko I climbed, the more I had to pull my baseball cap over my eyes to keep out the sun's glare until the next boko.
(This was a half-boat / half-building hybrid I spotted along the way.)
'Oh look, it's a cyclist!' said the caretaker at the Betsukai campsite. 'Where have you come from today?'
'Er, Furano, I think.'
'Furano?' exclaimed the caretaker. 'That's quite a ride for one day.'
'A few hundred kilometres, I should think,' said one of his colleagues.
'At least I think it was Furano.' I still hadn't quite got the hang of the place names in Hokkaido, many of which were originally coined by the native Ainu. 'Actually, it could have been something ending in "ro".'
'Kushiro?' said the caretaker.
'No, I was there a few days ago.'
'Yes, that's the one!'
There was an onsen just up the road from the campsite, and I gave a start when I looked in the changing room mirror. The Okaba rider house had been so infested with mosquitoes that we left a katori-senkoh
(蚊取り線香 / mosquito coil) burning in the dormitory all night, and my eyes were as red as Oliver Reed's on the morning after a three-day bender. In between this, Mr Pine Origin's snoring, a cock crowing in the yard and a foghorn blowing at regular intervals nearby, I hadn't had the best night's sleep. It was also forty-eight hours since my last proper bath, so in order to make myself feel at least partially human again, this evening I spent approximately:
5 minutes in the shower
10 minutes in the rotenburo
(露天風呂 / outside bath)
3 minutes beneath a kind of waterfall massage thingy
2 minutes in the sauna followed by 2 minutes in the mizu-buro
(水風呂 / cold bath)
3 more minutes in the sauna followed by 3 more minutes in the mizu-buro
4 more minutes in the sauna followed by 4 more minutes in the mizu-buro
5 more minutes in the rotenburo
3 more minutes beneath the waterfall massage thingy and
3 more minutes in the mizu-buro
I sighed like the bloke from the Strongbow ad
for pretty much the entire 49 minutes, and just to make things that little bit more conducive, there was a view from the rotenburo of the Shirétoko Peninsula (知床半島), which was to be the next extremity on my circumnavigation of Hokkaido.
* Actually, 凸凹 are not always deko-boko. In more formal or literary contexts they go by the much less catchy pronunciation of totsu-oh.
Mrs M and I live in the countryside, where it is pretty much impossible to lead a normal life unless you have a car, and while I do manage to cycle to work most days, when we go out shopping, sightseeing or to visit friends and family, it is almost always in our still prized and resolutely unglamorous Toyota Platz
.The most convenient thing about driving here - if you're British, at least - is that they do so on the left-hand side of the road. This means that to obtain a Japanese driving licence, all I had to do was take an eye test and fill out some forms (similarly, Mrs M got her British driving licence in double-quick time), whereas if you hail from a country that drives on the right, you'll need
to pass a practical driving test first.
The vast majority of cars are automatics, which often leads to the kind of accidents where confused OAPs mistake the accelerator for the brake pedal
, and for someone who was born and raised on the manual gearbox, makes for a rather dull driving experience. For variety's sake I keep my left hand busy by shifting into neutral and 'coasting' to a halt at the traffic lights, but even allowing for such eco-friendly driving techniques, you can still get more miles to the gallon - or rather, kilometres to the litre - out of a manual. Speaking of which, at the time of writing a litre of unleaded costs 145 yen (about £1), and a litre of diesel (aka kei-yu
/ 経由) 125 yen. Hybrids, incidentally - the Toyota Prius is still the second-best-selling car in Japan, and recently passed worldwide sales of five million - aren't necessarily any more economical, and if you buy an all-electric car - like, say, the Nissan Leaf
- there are still precious few places to plug it in.
As for road safety, Japan is statistically similar to the UK, with 4,663 road deaths in 2011 compared to 1,901 in the UK: in other words, nearly 4 deaths per 100,000 people, or 7 deaths per 100,000 cars owned. This compares favourably with many developed countries, including the US, where you are approximately twice as likely to kick the bucket in a car crash. Within Japan itself,
while Ibaraki accounted for the eleventh highest number of road deaths by prefecture in 2012 (142), relatively speaking, and as of 2010, it was only the 27th most dangerous prefecture in which to drive, with around 50 accidents per 10,000 people. Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku was ranked as the most dangerous in both 2010 and 2011, with 112 accidents per 10,000 people, and Shimané Prefecture in western Honshu as the safest.
While seatbelts and child seats are compulsory, the latter are a recent development, and many people still neglect to strap their children in, or only resort to doing so to avoid being stopped, rather than with the more noble intention of protecting their child in the event of an accident. When M Jr was born, Mrs M's mother wondered why we didn't just hold her in our arms for the drive home, and the two-year-old daughter of a friend of Mrs M's is regularly taken to the family rice field by her grandmother: the grandmother rides a scooter, the granddaughter sits between her legs in the footwell, and neither of them wears a helmet.The speed limit on most roads is a conservative 60kph (around 40mph) and even on expressways
rises to just 100kph (around 65mph), although as in the UK, the majority of road users routinely exceed the limit by 10 or 20kph. You are, therefore, unlikely to be pulled over by the rozzers unless you're really putting your foot down.
Drink driving, on the other hand, is very much frowned upon, and while the limit in the UK is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, in Japan it is just 0.15mg. Not only that, but depending on the circumstances, the owner of the car, the passengers and whoever supplied the alcohol in the first place can all potentially be found liable should a drunk driver get into a prang. Civil servants caught drink driving automatically lose their jobs - I know of several teachers who have been sacked in and around Mito, and who will never be able to work in the school system again - and as a consequence are no longer permitted to hold staff parties on the evening before a work day. (My one brush with the Japanese police came way back in 2005, when I was stopped for failing to obey a stop sign. It was the middle of
the night on a deserted side street - or at least that was what I pleaded as an excuse - and having had a beer earlier in the evening, I could have received a lot more than just a ticking off had they decided to breathalise me.)
Similar to the UK, accumulating a certain number of points on your driving licence can cause it to be suspended or revoked, and the licences themselves come in three different flavours. New drivers get a green licence
, which is replaced after two or three years with a blue one - at this point you are required to sit through a two-hour lecture on road safety, during which the boredom is only partially relieved by a video of real-life fender-benders and near-misses. Provided you don't get into trouble within the following three years, you are then rewarded with a gold licence, which only has to be renewed once every five years, although the renewal time starts to come down again once you reach seventy years old.Perhaps more important than this in practical terms is the MOT - aka sha-ken / 車検 - which is both stricter and more expensive than in many other countries. Putting my clapped-out old Vauxhall Astra through its UK MOT often cost no more than the basic cost of the test - currently £54.85 - whereas the two-yearly sha-ken on our Platz recently set us back
100,000 yen (about £750), despite the fact that it was in perfect working order. For this reason, you will hardly ever see a clapped-out old Vauxhall Astra in Japan, and if their car needs some work, people tend to get it done properly (Mrs M couldn't believe it when I replaced a broken wing mirror on the Astra with a new one in a different colour, simply because a matching one would have been more expensive).
So Japan is, by and large, a relatively safe and relatively peaceful place to drive, although there are some habits, customs, rules and regulations that are worth bearing in mind for the foreign first-timer:
- Most drivers on a dual carriageway will opt for the right-hand lane, meaning that a lot of overtaking is done on the inside lane. The Japanese equivalent of the Highway Code says that you should keep to the left and overtake on the right, so like the speed limit, this is another case where theory and practice differ.
- When approaching an open level crossing, one is expected to stop one's car and check for trains before proceeding, and as is the case with stop signs (see above), a police car will often be lurking to catch anyone who fails to do so. For someone who has absolute faith in the reliability of Japanese technology, up to and including the automatic barriers at level crossings, this seems unnecessary, but the law was brought in to prevent accidents like the one that occurred in 2000 in Saitama Prefecture, when a car was hit by a train after a lightning strike cut the electrical supply to the barriers.
- If they overtake at all, motorcyclists and scooter-ists tend to do so on the inside, and you will often see bikers patiently waiting in line in traffic jams, which as far as I'm concerned defeats the whole object of riding a bike in the first place. But anyway, while helmets are compulsory (unless you happen to be a great-grandmother giving a lift to her great-granddaughter, that is), one or two youngsters will deliberately flout the rules for the purposes of 'looking' 'cool'. Just the other week we saw one such rebel-without-a-skid-lid being chased by a police motorcycle, and Ibaraki, it should be noted, is a magnet for boh-sohzoku
(暴走族 / motorcycle gangs), who ride their souped-up machines (actually, perhaps souped-down would be a better phrase) at maximum revs for maximum disturbance, but are almost certainly polite young lads with proper jobs who still live with their mums.-
Many minor and indeed major roads have no pavements (that's sidewalks if you're of the North American persuasion), which can render pedestrians unnecessarily vulnerable: in April 2012, a teenage driver fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into a line of parents and children on their way to school. Two people were killed, including a pregnant mother, and their lives might have been saved had there been either a pavement or the concrete dividers - known as enseki
/ 縁石 - that are often used in place of one.
- You are expected to give way to pedestrians when turning either left or right into a side road, so if you try to nip through a gap in the oncoming traffic while turning right, you may find yourself confronted with a walking stick-wielding grandad and no choice but to wait until he finishes crossing. Conversely, Japanese motorists are addicted to what bikers refer to as the 'crafty right' - ie. turning right the very millisecond the lights change, and before anyone coming from the opposite direction has had time to react.- A much more risky addiction than the crafty right is what is known in Japanese as shingoh-mushi (信号無視 / ignoring a red light). It is not unusual for as many as three or four cars to carry on through a junction after the lights have changed, and the practice
is so prevalent that I can only assume the traffic lights here are timed to take it into account.
One final piece of good news: despite being included in the driving test, parallel parking (juu-retsu chuu-sha
/ 縦列駐車) is practically unheard of, and you will never encounter the kind of street one so often sees in the UK, with a line of parked cars on either side and barely enough room down the middle to ride a Fiat 500. Instead, the typical Japanese driver will take great pains to use an ordinary car parking space correctly: for example, I have never seen Mrs M's father park his car without going in and out of the space at least three times, until the wheels are perfectly aligned and precisely equidistant between the markings on either side.
A small corner of the countryside in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture recently made the national headlines, when half a field full of green tea bushes and a large chunk of the hill on which it was perched plunged into the river eighty metres below
. As I was watching the news, though, I couldn't help thinking of that scene in Crocodile Dundee, the punchline for which is 'That's
a knife'. In other words, forget green tea bushes in Hamamatsu, this
is what you call a proper landslide:
Day 9 – Akkeshi to Nemuro City (厚岸 - 根室市) - 106km
'There aren't any shops on the coast road, you know,' said the old lady at the youth hostel. 'So I made you these.'
Refusing to accept any money, she presented me with a packed lunch of two grapefruit-sized nigiri (rice balls).
'I hope you've got some sun block.'
'Don't worry,' I said. 'I've put it on already,' and thought as she waved me off that while she may not have been youthful, she was just the right sort of person to be running a hostel: nosy, but only in the sense that she was concerned for the welfare of her guests.
Just outside Akkeshi, an official-looking car - yellow and black with red lights on the top, rather like an AA van - stopped on the other side of the road.
'Excuse me, sir,' said the driver, leaning out of the window. 'Will you be heading along the coast road?'
'Please watch out for cars along the way.'
Telling someone to watch out for cars on a road seemed like rather unnecessary advice, but it was nice to know the powers that be were concerned for the welfare of a humble cyclist.
'No, not cars,' he said, 'bears.' (An easy mistake to make: the Japanese for car is kuruma - 車 - and the Japanese for bear is kuma - 熊.) 'There was a sighting earlier this morning.'
According to conventional wisdom, a bear is liable to attack if you happen upon it without warning, whereas it will steer clear if it can hear you coming in advance. So I gave my rather weedy bicycle bell a ping to show that I was fully prepared, and the man told me to take care before driving off again.
(This is a 'beware of the bear' sign I saw later that morning:)
Certain routes in the Touring Mapple
are highlighted in purple, which denotes that readers have recommended them as being particularly scenic, and Routes 123 and 142 - which meandered their way along clifftops, past fishing villages, and around harbours, bays and tidal lakes - were purple almost all the way to Nemuro, making for some of the best riding of the summer.
On an inland stretch of Route 142 I met Mr Safe Wisteria, a sixty four year old from Osaka who had embarked on various adventures since his retirement, including sailing round the world on the Peace Boat
and walking the Shikoku-henro
(四国遍路), a pilgrimage to eighty-eight different temples around the island of Shikoku.
Along with panniers on both the front and back of his bike, Mr Safe Wisteria had a little basket on the handlebars with a radio in it - he said that it kept him company when there was no one to talk to - and because he was heading in the opposite direction, had just phoned the lady at Akkeshi youth hostel to book a room for the night.
With its broken windows, peeling paint and weed-strewn surroundings, the railway station at Hatta-ushi looked to be abandoned, although trains on the Nemuro Line do apparently stop there.
Japan maintains a much greater number of rural lines than, for example, the UK, and the one- or two-carriage trains that trundle along them are known as 'one man', which is a reference to the lone driver, although it could just as easily be to the number of passengers (Wikipedia Japan describes Hatta-ushi as being used by an 'extremely small number' of people).
In the manner of the Eurorail pass, foreign visitors can buy a Japan Rail Pass
, which allows unlimited use of the rail network. For the natives, though, and for those of us who live and work here, our best option is the juu-hachi-kippu
(18 ticket), which as the name implies is aimed at cash-strapped youngsters, and while it doesn't allow you to board Shinkansen
(新幹線 / aka bullet trains), can be used on just the kind of one mans that stop at Hatta-ushi.
(お母婆 / old hag) rider house was, as they say, a curate's egg: ie. good in parts. One of the good things was the price: it was free to stay there so long as you had your evening meal at the izakaya next door. One of the bad things was the lack of facilities: there was no shower, for example, so I had to settle for a hand bath while standing up at the sink (the guy who ran the place said they were in the process of building a shower block, but hadn't raised enough money to finish it yet). Because the Okaba was situated in what was effectively a swamp, another bad thing was the preponderance of mosquitoes, which meant that my twilight stroll was both good and bad: good in the sense that an atmospherically smoke machine-like mist hung in the air, and bad in the sense that I was bitten to shreds whenever I stopped to take a photo.
There were four of us staying at the Okaba that night, myself and three motorcyclists. One worked as a civil servant and another was studying at a vocational school, although I didn't find out much else about them because the third, Mr Pine Origin, was such a talker they could hardly get a word in edgeways.
Mr Pine Origin worked in Iwaté Prefecture as the secretary at an elementary school, which because of the long-ish holidays had enabled him to come to Hokkaido no less than seventeen times.
'I usually ride about three or four hundred kilometres a day,' he said. 'I once did six hundred, but I couldn't move my legs when I woke up the next morning.'
Bikers, it would seem, are the same the world over, and the three of them ordered extra-large portions of pork escalopes and pork kebab.
'As you can see,' said Mr Pine Origin, indicating his portly physique, 'I come to Hokkaido for the food.'
We rounded off the evening with Russian vodka and Russian chocolate, both provided on the house. Nemuro has close ties with Russia, and most of the city's road signs are in Russian as well as Japanese. There were Russian books on the izakaya's bookshelves, and photos on the wall from an annual visit to the Okaba by Russian schoolchildren: hopefully they don't mind the mosquitoes, I thought, as I dashed across the yard to the dormitory and slammed the screen door behind me as quickly as I could.
It is a Muzuhashi family trait to never, ever buy anything unless it's cut-price, 'seconds', sold-as-seen, extremely cheap or, ideally, second-hand, and while as a rule, I have about as much affection for the act of shopping as a footballer does for the act of fidelity, if threatened at gunpoint or bribed with the offer of limited edition New York cheesecake Choco Pie
, I will very reluctantly partake if the venue is a recycle shop.
Recycle shops are to Japan what charity shops are to the UK, and partly out of necessity (ie. recession), partly for environmental reasons (Tokyo was producing so much rubbish in the post-war years there is even an island - Yumé-no-shima / 夢の島 - built on it in Tokyo Bay), these days they're springing up all over the place.In contrast with a charity shop, however, instead of donating any old junk you think someone else might be willing to buy, you take your any old junk to the recycle shop, and the people who work there decide if someone else might be willing to buy it. The amount of money you get in return is risibly small,
but hey, at least you're giving those unwanted possessions a chance to be re-used instead of chucking them straight in the bin. (Also, and in contrast to selling second-hand goods in the UK, you get the same amount regardless of whether it's cash or part-exchange.
If you're a buyer, on the other hand - and particularly if you are, for example, a cash-strapped ALT just off the bus from Narita Airport - recycle shops can help you furnish your one-room Leo Palace apartment with nearly new and / or barely used bargains.
So with this in mind, here's my guide to the best recycle shops in and around Mito (if you spot any mistakes or can recommend any places I've missed, feel free to leave a comment):
/ せいみや (Tokai)
The original and best recycle shop, as well as furniture and 'white goods' (ie. fridges, washing machines etc), Seimiya has separate departments for hardware, antiques, office and kitchen equipment. For a small fee - and like most if not all of the shops on this list - they are willing to deliver larger items, and for a not-so-small fee, to take away your old kitchen appliances for recycling.
A word of warning: not everything in Seimiya is second-hand, so be sure to check the price and condition before you buy - if the item is new, you may be able to find it cheaper at somewhere like Nitori
or Joyful Yamashin
Directions: Seimiya is on the east side of Route 6 as it goes through Tokai-mura (there's a map
on their website). Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Seimiya: washing machine, 2 x fridge-freezers, dining table & chairs, vacuum cleaner, zaseki (座席 / those chairs-without-legs often found in Japanese living rooms).
2) Wonder Rex Naka-shi / ワンダーレックス那珂市 (Naka)
The Wonder Rex chain has a new shop in Akatsuka
, but the Naka branch is, in my humble opinion, better stocked. I've purchased pretty much every item of clothing I own there, and they also have musical instruments, electrical goods, kitchen goods, toys and sports equipment
(although Mrs M tells me the women's and children's clothes tend to be a little on the pricey side).
Directions: The Naka branch is on the south side of a road that runs between Route 349 and Route 6, and part of the San Molino / Homac shopping mall, which is easy to spot because of its large fake windmill (the official Wonder Rex homepage map is here
Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Wonder Rex: t-shirts, shorts, trousers, tracksuit tops, presentation set of flower-pattern Cath Kidston coffee mugs 3)
Hard Off Mito Minami-inter / ハードオフ水戸南インター (Mito)Hard Off isn't as big as Wonder Rex, but it sells the same kind of stuff, and if anything is probably slightly cheaper.
Don't go there looking for clothes, though, as they really do look like the sort of thing you would find in a run-down branch of the Sue Ryder Shop on Chippenham High Street.
Directions: The Mito branch is near the enormous K's Denki at the Route 50 bypass / Route 6 crossroads. Head towards the expressway from the crossroads and you'll find Hard Off on the right-hand side of the road (the Hard Off homepage map is here
Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Hard Off: oven, de-humidifier, chest of drawers, rucksack, baby bath, Bumbo
(Also worth checking out are the Hard Offs at Akatsuka
, and on Route 123 at Mashiko
, just over the border in Tochigi Prefecture.)4)
Book Off Route 50 bypass / ブックオフ５０号水戸元吉田 (Mito) Second-hand bookshops are all over the place in Japan, but one of the biggest chains, Book Off, has recently branched out into
selling general second-hand goods. The Mito branch specialises in menswear, although they also sell surfboards, wetsuits, golf clubs and so on, along with the usual books, CDs and DVDs.Directions: It's on the eastbound / north side of the Route 50 bypass,
where the bypass meets the road that runs directly from the south exit of Mito Station (the Book Off homepage map is here
).Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Book Off: t-shirts, polo shirts, trainers, sweaters, and, er, books
(For the more adventurous among you, there is a Book Off recycle superstore - the car park, it says on their website, has more than a thousand spaces - in Maébashi, Gunma Prefecture.)5)
Sohko-seikatsu-kan / 倉庫生活館 (Mito)There are several recycle shops catering to Ibaraki University students, and the best of them is
Sohko-seikatsu-kan. While it is part of a chain, Sohko-seikatsu-kan looks more like the kind of slightly dodgy, independent
recycle shops that bargain-hunters like - well, like me - get all worked up about, and stocks furniture, white and electrical goods, along with a smattering of other bits, bobs, odds and ends.Directions: It
's opposite a Max Valu supermarket, on a side road that runs parallel to - and south of -
Route 123 (see this map
), and not far from Ibaraki University and the Ibaraki Budokan.
Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Sohko-seikatsu-kan: hand mixer, chest of drawers6)
Seikatsu-kohboh-kan / 生活工芸館 (Mito)
Seikatsu-kohboh-kan may be small but it has a high turnover and, more importantly, is very cheap.
Directions: It's even closer to the University than Sohko-seikatsu-kan, on the T-junction of Routes 118 and 123 (see this map
Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Seikatsu-kohboh-kan: fan heater, washing pole7) Sohgoh Recycle Eco /
Sohgoh Recycle Eco is housed in a disused pachinko parlour, and as well as furniture and white goods, they also sell scooters and motorcycles.Directions:
It's on the north side of Route 51 between Mito and Oh-arai (there's a map
on their website)Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Sohgoh Recycle Eco: gas range8)
Furugi-ya-honpo / 古着屋本舗 (Mito)
Furugi-ya-honpo deals solely in clothing, and while
a lot of the second-hand stuff is 'vintage' (ie. expensive), there's a huge amount of stock to choose from, including sale rails outside.Directions:
As per this map
, it's on the westbound / south side of the Route 50 bypass, directly opposite Yamada Denki.Stuff Mrs M and I have bought at Furugi-ya-honpo:
hoodie, woolly hat, yukata9) Kanteidan / 鑑定団
(Akatsuka)Kanteidan's signage and homepage claim that you can buy and sell 'anything' there, although when Mrs M and went, pretty much the only second-hand stuff we could find was in the extensive clothing section on the top floor.
Directions: Kanteidan is on the eastbound / north side of the Route 50 bypass, between the Mito expressway interchange and the turn off for the old Route 50 at Akatsuka.Stuff that Mrs M and I have bought at Kanteidan: t-shirts, trainers
Yasui-ya / 安い屋 (Mito)
OK, so we're scraping the barrel a bit here, but trust me, Yasui-ya is worth visiting for sheer curiosity value. Most of the goods on display (if you can call it that - it looks more like they were dumped through the front doors off the back of a pick-up truck) have apparently lain untouched for several decades, and while the furniture in particular seems a little over-priced, I get the feeling they would be susceptible to haggling.
Directions: Yasui-ya is just off Route 118, slightly closer to the centre of Mito than Seikatsu-kohboh-kan, and on a side road that leads to the Nijuhsan-yason-keigan temple (二十三夜尊桂岸寺) (see this map
Stuff that Mrs M and I have bought at Yasui-ya: ceiling lamp10) Shinei / シンエーYou might not think so if you went there, but Shinei is in fact a
slightly more upmarket version of Yasui-ya.Directions: It's
on a back street near Akatsuka Station, as per this map
There are a few recycle shops in Hitachi-naka, but to be honest they're not much good (the pick of the bunch, Aru-aru, has recently been demolished), although you might want to check out the King Family clothes shop, which is here
. A recycle shop in Mito that I have yet to visit is
オーディン (Audin? Ohdin? Ordin?), which is on the old Route 50 near Kairakuen (info here).One final thing: for some reason you won't find many second-hand bicycles in recycle shops. Mountain / road / racing bikes do occasionally turn up, although like the mama-chari / shopping bikes, they tend to be over-priced.
My mum used to swear by Dr Spock - no, not that Dr Spock, silly, the one who wrote Baby And Child Care, which Wikipedia tells me was the second best-selling book behind the Bible for over fifty years. I'm not sure what Spock would have thought of this, though, which I found in a Japanese child care manual that Mrs M borrowed from a friend of hers.
You can probably guess what it's about from the illustration, but anyway, here's a translation of the text:
Learning the fundamentals for living in a community
As your child grows older and starts to build friendships, many situations will arise that require patience and self-control. At times like this, if your child cannot restrain their emotions and follow rules, they will not be able to have peace of mind while living within the community at large. At this point in our child's development, let's teach them to be aware of and to obey the rules. We teach this using the 'carrot and stick' method.
Firstly, decide what is prohibited at home (the rules), and let your child know what they 'must not do'. At times like this, let's warn them in a scary voice, 'If you don't follow the rules, I'll smack your bottom!' This is the 'stick'. So if they don't obey the rules, without going easy on them, you will smack their bottom with the palm of your hand. In your child's mind, the feeling of 'Ouch!' becomes associated with what they 'must not do', and little by little, they will come to realise that they 'can get by without doing that', and that this is what 'self-control' means. At the same time, if our child obeys the rules, let's stroke their hair, give them a hug and shower them with praise. By showing them that 'If I don't do that, I will feel good', the child independently learns to exhibit self-control. During this time, let's teach our child the importance of obeying the rules in order to build better human relations.
In the illustration, the mother is saying, 'Oy, you!' and the caption reads, Let's vary our expressions: when scolding our child, let's put on an angry face, and when praising our child, let's put on a kind face.
As far as I know, you wouldn't be able to get away with publishing something like this in the UK, although both there and in Japan, there seems to be a kind of double-standard at work, in the sense that while corporal punishment is banned within the school system, a significant minority of people still smack their children at home (and not just smacking: when her son is naughty, the friend who lent us this book raps her child on the top of his head with the extended knuckle of her middle finger - something that Mrs M's father did to her when she was a child),
There is one interesting difference between the two societies that's worth mentioning, though: the straight man (tsukkomi) in a comedy double act often smacks his fall guy (boké) in the head for saying or doing something particularly stupid, and this is echoed in the behaviour of both Japanese adults and their children, so that smacking someone in the head is seen as amusing or playful rather than violent, and therefore socially acceptable.
In the year during which Mrs M became pregnant, we were living in a two-storey block of four apartments, one of which was being used by our landlord to store furniture, and therefore empty. Living next to us on the second floor (that's a Japanese / American second floor, British first floor) was a middle-aged couple who had several screaming rows during the time we were living there (the walls were thin so it was hard to ignore), and whose relationship deteriorated to the point where by the time we moved out they hardly seemed to spend any time together. Beneath us on the first floor, meanwhile, was a younger man who appeared to live alone, and was a fan of what to my untrained ear sounded like ragga music. He would play his ragga not at ear-splitting volume, but loud enough to keep me from getting to sleep at night, and to wake me up before my alarm went off in the morning. We eventually made a complaint about this via the estate agents, and almost as soon as we had done so the music stopped, although this was just a coincidence.
As it turned out, the man had a wife and baby son, who, in accordance with Japanese tradition, had spent a few months around the time of the birth at her parents' house. Once they had moved back in with the father, instead of being kept awake at night by ragga, we could instead eavesdrop during the day on the general crash, bang, wallop of a baby boy going about his everyday business. When Mrs M got pregnant (read this
if you want a detailed account of our conception-related adventures), she quit her part-time job and, particularly for the first two or three months of the pregnancy, took things easy, and it was at this point that she realised something quite remarkable, namely that the baby downstairs - and its mother, for that matter - never
left the apartment.
The father would head off to work at around 7am, and come rain or shine, whether it be a weekday or a weekend, mother and baby would spend the rest of the day indoors, until the father got back at seven or eight in the evening. By the time we moved out, the baby was about a year old and already walking - we could hear his footsteps as he did circuits of the living room - but even at this point he was never taken to the local park, or even out of the front door to look around the yard. I said to Mrs M that surely they must go shopping together, but she explained that no, once or twice a week a van from the Co-op came to deliver groceries. Admittedly, the mother didn't appear to be local and probably didn't have any friends nearby, but despite having her own car, hardly ever used it.
We weren't sure if they were from the mother's or the father's side, but every few weeks the baby's grandparents would come to visit, and they too would only ever play with their grandson inside the apartment, before driving off again a few hours later. Even more infrequently than this, mother, father and baby would get in the car and disappear for the day, but based on the evidence we had, we could only assume this was to visit the same set of grandparents at home, and certainly not to go to Disneyland or even a shopping mall. So the only time their baby was exposed to the outside world was once every couple of months, when it was carried the short distance between apartment and car at one end of the trip, and car and house at the other.
Largely out of necessity, the mother made as creative use as possible of the relatively small space - probably about sixteen square metres - she had at her disposal, turning the apartment into a kind of live-in kindergarten, and kept her son occupied with all sorts of activities: among other things, the two of them could be heard reading books, playing games, playing with toys, exercising and watching TV, and she would forever be cooing over, chatting to or consoling him.
The boy's day-to-day life was probably as stimulating as it was possible to make it under the circumstances, but if nothing else, he was in danger of contracting rickets due to a lack of vitamin D, and Mrs M said that if she were in the same situation, it wouldn't be long before sheer claustrophobia drove her completely round the bend. The most heartbreaking thing that we witnessed - or rather, that we could assume from our eavesdropping - happened in March of last year, when the poor kid wasn't even allowed outside to enjoy the first snowfall of his young life; all he could do instead was survey the scene from the living room window.
OK, so I was exaggerating when I said they never
left the house: just once, I found the mother standing outside the back door with her son in her arms (it could have been my imagination, but they both looked rather pale), as they waved the grandparents off after a visit. Mrs M, too, bumped into them on one occasion, and during a brief chat was surprised to find out that when she was younger, the mother had spent a year living in Australia. The father, on the other hand, was what Mrs M described as a chinpira
(chav if you're British, redneck if you're American). He was foul-mouthed, prone to shouting at his wife, and preferred to spend his days off (actually day off - he seemed to work six-day weeks for the most part) working out at the gym rather than playing with his son. On one occasion, Mrs M returned from our early evening stroll to find him on the warpath, having discovered a strange car parked in 'his' space. Despite the fact that the car in question wasn't blocking him in and would no doubt be gone by the following morning, and that in any case, the car park was large enough to accommodate several more vehicles than were owned by the people who lived there, he had summoned both the landlord and the police. There was some paperwork relating to a cram school visible on the front seat of the offending car, and it took a certain amount of diplomacy on Mrs M's part to convince him that it wasn't me or one of my English-teaching friends who had parked it there,
Not that this is exactly a complimentary description of them, but contrary to what you might think, I don't in any way want to suggest that the couple were bad parents. The father may have been a little narrow-minded, but he wasn't a wife beater or an alcoholic (the middle-aged guy on the second floor sounded much scarier when he got drunk), and let's not forget that according to statistics, the average Japanese husband spends just fifteen minutes a day with his children. Also, the apartment-as-prison scenario is pretty extreme even by Japanese standards, where most parents will merely shield their baby from the elements until it is three months old, and smother it in hats, scarves and surgical masks to stop it from catching a cold thereafter (they also, I was surprised to find out recently, never kiss their babies, a custom that would come as a blessed relief to British politicians on the campaign trail). Once M Jr arrived, though, the experience of having such eccentric neighbours convinced us to take her outside as much as possible, and if there is ever the slightest hint that she has acquired an interest in ragga, I shall immediately confiscate her iPod.
Ｋushiro City to Akkeshi Town (釧路市 – 厚岸町) – 56km
Mr Small Field slept for almost the same amount of time he had been drinking, and somewhat improbably claimed not to have a hangover. He drove me to the nearest internet café and looked positively sheepish as we said our goodbyes – a different man entirely from the rosy-cheeked, world-peace-promoting party animal I had met the previous day.
‘Hello,’ said a woman’s voice on the other end of the phone.
‘Is that the Akkeshi youth hostel?’
‘Yes, it is. Can I help you?’
‘I’m afraid my Japanese isn’t very good so you'll have to bear with me, but do you have any vacancies for tonight?’
‘There’s a fellow here who says his Japanese isn’t very good. He wants to know if we’ve got any vacancies for tonight,’ said the woman to an unseen colleague. ‘Yes, we do.’
‘And do you serve meals or should I bring my own food?’
‘He wants to know if we serve meals or should he bring his own food,’ she continued, in the same manner. ‘We serve dinner and breakfast.’
‘Do you mind me asking how much it costs for one night?’
‘He said he wants to know how much it costs for one night.’
And so on and so forth. Despite the three-way nature of the call I did eventually manage to secure a reservation, although the woman was doubtful that I would make it the fifty or so kilometres to Akkeshi without getting rained on.
Having left the internet café at around midday, I was in such a hurry to take advantage of a break in the weather that I fell off the bike. Nipping across the road towards a conbini, I misjudged the height of a kerbstone and was propelled onto the pavement. With plenty of witnesses driving past, the experience was more embarrassing than it was painful, although I did have to tend to a grazed knee in the conbini toilet.
(This is a sign I saw just down the road: 'Nature Beautification', it reads, while the little cartoon can is sobbing, 'Don't throw me away~'.)
True to form the heavens opened just as I reached the highest point of the day’s ride, and with no shelter to speak of, I was soon soaked to the skin for the second time in three days. Or rather, my feet were: my waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers had lived up to their labels, while my supposedly waterproof shoes had not.
When I finally squelched into the hostel, it became clear that prefixing it with the word 'youth' was something of a misnomer. Wearing a pinny, wrinkled stockings and sandals, the woman who had answered my call was at least in her seventies, and the man to whom she had presumably relayed my side of our telephone conversation seemed even older, speaking with a rumbling, throaty growl that made it sound as if he had a tracheotomy (later on while dinner was being served, a whole gang of OAPs could be heard nattering away to each other in the kitchen).
'Did you go up the hill and onto the cape?' asked the woman. 'The last foreign guy who stayed here did.'
'I nearly did, yes - I had to ask three different people for directions before I found my way here. By the way, have you got some, er...'
'To dry your shoes with.'
'Yes, to dry my shoes with!'
As I was about to pop to the shops on an emergency Choco Pie
run later in the evening, she intercepted me at the front door.
'What time do you want to have breakfast?' she asked.
'You mean I can choose?'
'Will 8am be OK?'
'No, no. The cleaners will be in by then.'
'Hmm. That's probably a bit too late. How about seven?'
'Er, yes. Perhaps seven would be better.'
'That's settled, then,' she said. 'How old are you, anyway?'
'When you're my age, even a thirty-seven-year old looks like a school kid. Doesn't it get lonely sleeping in a tent all by yourself?'
'It is a bit scary sometimes, I suppose.'
My tatami-mat room at the hostel wasn't lonely or scary, but the pillow did, it has to be said, look and feel very much like a bag of gravel. Perhaps this would have some kind of therapeutic effect by massaging my pressure points as I slept. Either that or I would wake up the next morning with gravel marks all over one side of my face.
After much badgering by my teachers, this year I finally decided to have a shot at the prefectural speech contest for non-native speakers of Japanese. Somewhat improbably, I came in second place, although this may have been because a) one of those teachers was on the panel of judges, b) another teacher gave me a lot of help writing my speech, c) I had concocted a fiendishly cunning tactical plan after seeing a Vietnamese friend take part last year, and d) I have been living in Japan and studying the language a good deal longer than most of the other contestants: my first lesson (at South Thames College in Putney, in case you were wondering) was nearly a decade ago, and all told I have lived here for over four years, whereas the eventual winner - whose speech was so wonderful that it actually made me cry - has only been here for six months.
If nothing else, entering the contest taught me the importance of preparation, aka the six Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. When I was a teenager, I harboured ambitions of becoming an actor, but gave it all up because I couldn't handle the pressure. Terrified that I might forget my lines, I either deliberately took minor roles or volunteered for backstage work instead, although the thing is, I can't recall ever taking the time to properly memorise my lines. Determined not to make the same mistake again, I recited my speech at every available opportunity, including over breakfast, during the cycle ride to and from work, in the teachers' cloakroom, and while Mrs M and M Jr were taking a bath. I also used all three third-year classes at my junior high school as audience guinea pigs, and while I don't think I ever made it all the way through without making at least one mistake, by the time I was standing at the lectern on the big day, the words were so fixed in my mind that it would have taken an assassination attempt or a stray meteorite for me to mess them up.Several of my fellow contestants, meanwhile,
were still tweaking, memorising and generally fretting right up until the last minute. The woman sitting next to me as we waited for our names to be called didn't listen to a word that was being said, instead muttering her lines to herself the entire time, and one or two others didn't know exactly what they were going to say until they were already saying it. As the organisers explained, going over the official time limit of five minutes wouldn't necessarily be fatal to one's chances of getting a prize, but it wouldn't exactly help them either, and two or three contestants were interrupted in mid-sentence by the dreaded warning bell (the timekeepers also held up a 'thirty seconds to go' cue card to add to the tension).Five minutes, as it turns out, makes for a much shorter speech than you might expect, to the extent that once I (OK, my Japanese teacher and I) had timed it, pruned it, timed it again and pruned it some more, mine
ran to just one side of word-processed A4. This is even more surprising when you consider that Japanese is such an economical language: a much larger amount of information can be packed into a 140-character Japanese Tweet, for example, than its English equivalent.
I have made speeches in English many times, and while it's risky to just play it by ear, speaking in your native language allows you so much more leeway for ad-libbing, covering up mistakes or saying the same thing in a slightly different way. In a second language, though, you have far fewer weapons at your disposal, and are a lot more likely to talk yourself into a syntactical dead-end from which there is no elegant or economical means of escape.My chosen specialised subject, as you might expect, was M Jr, and while my teachers kept emphasising that prize-winning speeches in the past have at least ended on a serious note - they tend to have serious beginnings and middles, too -
I made a point of playing it for laughs. For those of you who don't understand Japanese, I have translated the speech into English, and while much of the humour has been lost as a result, just for the hell of it, I also fed the original into Bing Translator, with bizarre - and frankly funnier - results (see below).Becoming a father for the first time in Japan
In December 2011 my wife became pregnant. As a result, I realised that when it comes to childbirth, there are various differences between Japan and the UK.
For example, when my wife found out that she was pregnant, she said, 'Ten months is going to be tough..' 'Wow!' I thought. 'Japanese women are pregnant for ten months! And to think, British women are only pregnant for nine...' Later on I was relieved to be told that one month of pregnancy is calculated differently by Japanese and non-Japanese*.
Pregnancy in the UK is basically a licence to 'eat as much as you like', and it is not uncommon for pregnant women to gain four or five stone. In Japan, on the other hand, pregnant women are told by their doctors not to gain more than one and a half stone - sometimes even one stone - in weight. Despite her morning sickness, while she was pregnant my wife had a craving for ice cream, and in particular, green tea-flavoured Super Cup. In accordance with the doctors' guidance, I strictly limited the amount of ice cream she ate. But when I got home from work, many was the time I would find an empty Super Cup in the kitchen rubbish bin.
On 6th August last year my wife's contractions started and we went to the hospital. According to her, the labour was so painful it felt as if her back would break. If she had given birth in the UK, she would have been able to receive as much painkilling treatment as she liked. In Japan, however, most women giving birth are not allowed to take medicine of any kind. So when my wife asked a nurse, 'Excuse me, can I have some painkillers?' she was flatly refused. 'If you take medicine,' said the nurse, 'your baby won't know when it's supposed to come out.'
Eventually my wife's waters broke and she was taken into the delivery room. Seeing her on the deilvery table was so terrifying that I had absolutely no idea what to do for her. When I whispered, 'Good luck!' and tried to stroke her hair, she swatted my hand away and said, 'Get out of the way!' (This is an experience I think dads all over the world will be able to relate to.)
Before I knew it my wife had given birth to a beautiful baby girl, and I was so happy that tears came to my eyes.
At present, one in four babies in the UK is born to mixed-race parents, whereas in Japan, that statistic is just one in thirty. As a result, such children are viewed as special and referred to as 'half's. 'Half' isn't necessarily a bad word, but since our daughter has both Japanese and British genes, instead of being referred to as a 'half', I hope that she will be referred to as a 'double'**.
Either way, from now on my wife and I will try our very best to bring up our baby.
Thank you very much for listening.
* The Japanese calculate the term of a pregnancy in lunar months of twenty-eight days, as opposed to calendar months of twenty-eight to thirty-one, hence the confusion.**
The 'double' idea wasn't my own, and is gaining in popularity as an - albeit slightly jokey - way of referring to mixed-race Japanese.
The top four speeches were broadcast on local radio (one of my students, whose mother had tuned into the progamme by chance, came up to me the next day to say congratulations), and listening back made me realise how many 'um's and 'er's I used to stall for time, when what I should have been using were Japanese 'eh-toh's and 'a-noh's. Not that I'm going to post it here, but Mrs M videoed the whole thing for posterity, and watching this made me even more self-conscious, largely because I have developed a Prince Charles-like habit of concluding each paragraph with a kind of half-smile / half-grimace.T
his is the radio broadcast:
And here's the bonkers Bing translation:
That would be a father for the first time in Japan,
My wife got pregnant two years ago, in December. I noticed variations in it about childbirth in the United Kingdom and Japan sparked, of.
See, for example, pregnancy, wife "10 for months, it's harder now..." and when I said, I "Wow! Japanese girls are pregnant 10 months it until delivery?! In the United Kingdom takes only 9 months! "And wondered. Being taught how to count Japanese and foreigners is different is one month pregnant, I felt.
A British woman was pregnant, basically "all-you-can-eat" in, often pregnant fat 2, 30 km away. On the other hand, doctors in Japan is pregnant woman. 10 kg so that does not increase more than the weight limit. Wife was fixated in the ice cream (especially green tea taste Super Cup) despite the morning sickness nausea during pregnancy. I have severely restricted wife eats ice cream according to the guidance of the teacher,. But I get home and kitchen trash discovered the empty Super Cup many times out of the box.
She started 8/6 last year, and went to the hospital. According to his wife is sore hip crumbling labor pains or feel. If you birth in the United Kingdom in general labor analgesia can so you can freely take medicine. However, natural childbirth from straightforward in Japan, my wife "or why the pain? "And when I asked the nurse who was refused if you drink drugs, when the baby is out, some couldn't once and for all.
Finally, my wife and her waters broke and went into the delivery room. When I saw the wife is depicted riding on a birthing bed, I too scary too, you can give and what did not know at all. In a low voice "go for it! "And said, as his wife's hair. Then, "out of the way! "And I have been rebuffed. This experience is worldwide independent dad that you can see well.
Landmarks that cute girl is born safely between, I'm glad tears..
Currently, parents is international couples is one of four children born in the United Kingdom. In Japan it to substitution, so a 30 per person, such children are seen as a "half" something special. "Half" is not a bad word that is so blood of English and Japanese in both daughters, want to seen as a "double" not "half", and I hope.
I work and I would like to hard parenting hard with my wife from this either way,.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Here's the original Japanese text:
And finally, purely out of curiosity, I fed the Bing translation back through Bing and back into Japanese, with even more surreal results:
私の妻は妊娠して 2 年前に、12 月に得た。私はそれの変化イギリスときっかけと、日本での出産に気づいたの。
、妊娠、妻を見る「10 ヶ月間は、それは難しい今...」と私が言ったとき、"うわっ ！日本の女の子妊娠 10 ヶ月はそれまで配信ですか？イギリスはわずか 9 ヶ月で ！」と疑問に思いました。日本人と外国人をカウントする方法を教えられている 1 ヶ月妊娠しているが異なる場合は、私は感じた。
イギリス人女性は妊娠中、基本的に「食べ放題」に、多くの場合妊娠脂肪 2、30 km。その一方で、日本の医師は妊娠中の女性です。10 は増加していませんので kg よりも重量制限。妻、アイスクリーム （特に緑茶味スーパー カップ） にもかかわらず、朝のつわり吐き気を妊娠中に固定されてあった。私は深刻な妻食べるアイスクリーム先生の指導によると制限が。しかし、家に帰るし、台所のごみ箱に何回もの空のスーパー カップを発見しました。
彼女は 8/6 昨年を開始し、病院に行った。彼の妻によると痛みの崩壊しつつある労働痛みヒップまたは感じです。イギリスに生まれの一般的な鎮痛労働する場合だからあなた自由に薬を取ることがでくことができます。しかし、自然分娩から日本、私の妻の簡単な"や、なぜ痛みですか？"私赤ちゃんが出ているとき薬を飲む場合は拒否された看護師を尋ねたとき、いくつか一度、すべてことができなかった。
最後に、私の妻と彼女の水を破ったし、分娩室に行った。妻は乗る、出産ベッドに、私はあまりにも怖いのも描かれている見たとき、与えることができるし、はまったく知りませんでしたか。低い声で「それのために行く ！」いう彼の妻の髪。その後、「邪魔 ！」私は拒絶されています。この経験は、あなたがよく見ることができます世界中の独立したお父さんです。
現在、親は国際カップル イギリスで生まれ、4 人の子供の一つです。それ置換するので日本では 30 人、そのような子供は、「半分」特別な何かを見られています。「半分」そう遺伝子英語と日本語の両方の娘に悪い言葉ではない、ない「半分」、「ダブル」を見たしたいし、思います。