Falling Sick in Japan
No matter where you live, you are bound to fall sick at any one point of time, maybe once every two or three months or so, depending on the person’s immune system. However, when sick, there are certain procedures to follow, depending on the country where you live in. I personally have experienced it a few times and it was quite a culture shock to me.
First, let’s go through some of the most common illnesses, such as fever and flu, and then lastly, we’ll go through a list of keywords and pbrases which are commonly used. Japan has two kinds of illnesses: Colds, and the flu.
The flu means that you can take a day off of work or school. If you catch a cold, you are expected to do everything a healthy person does, but you’ll have to wear a mask.
Colds are every disease that isn’t influenza. The Japanese word for influenza is in katakana, because it is a disease imported by foreigners and they want everyone to remember that.
Getting a Cold
It’s easy to catch a cold in Japan, because everything is a radically different temperature, and the country has a fondness for extreme temperature changes (hot and cold onsen baths, for one, air-conditioned subway cars that open into heated subway platforms, for another).
Getting the Flu
Influenza is the name given to any disease that makes you throw up. This would seem to include actual influenza, poor reactions to antibiotics, and food poisoning. It’s basically “vomiting disease.”
If you get the catch-all influenza, you can be excused from school or work, though again only with a doctor’s note.
The “Ninja” Mask
The ninja masks are a perpetual soure of fascination for foreigners and admittedly they still strike me as a little weird even after two years of living with them. It’s especially distracting when someone comes up to me and takes a moment to start speaking; in that surreal moment I’m forced to look at them in a face mask, waiting in silence for something to happen.
Contrary to popular belief, they have nothing to do with air pollution. They’re actually a courtesy. You wear them when you think you’re getting sick to prevent the people around you from getting sick. You can cough into the cotton mask, cover up your runny nose, and prevent otber people from catching your germs.
Western cold and cough medicine is essentially non-existent in Japan, and aspirin is extravagantly overpriced. You’ll actually get most cough medicines seized at the airport or in shipping, because Japan assumes that the only thing standing between itself and a meth epidemic is a 250ml travel bottle of Robitussin.
Keywords & Phrases Commonly Used When Sick
|It hurts here||ここが痛い|
|I’ve run out of my medication||私の薬がなくなりました|
|This is my usual medication||これが私のいつもの薬です|
|I need a doctor who can speak English||英語を話せる医者(いしゃ)が必要です|
|I have had vaccinations||私は予防接種(よぼうせっしゅ)を受けてます|
|I have a skin allergy||私は皮膚(ひふ)のアレルギーがあります|