Monday, 19 October 2009

PostHeaderIcon Bad Japan: Infru


Japanese people can be annoyingly naive and cautious when it comes to rather common and mundane things. For example, whenever you participate in anything that might be slightly dangerous then you need to attend an hour or two of meetings to prepare. Then you need to stand about listening to an alpha male (like the chef below) state the obvious. When rafting, don't drown. When using the oven, don't stick your head in it. Don't run with knives when drunk. Don't drink anything from under the sink. It would remind me of being lectured as a child... if you know... I wasn't so young when I was first told such blatantly obvious safety advice that I can't even remember it now.

Moving on... it 'officially' changed seasons here about a month ago but only recently has the weather got comfortable enough to sleep with a cover. As usual, the changing colours of the leaves brings with it the arrival of the dreaded INFRU (shortening of influenza). Japanese people in my work have been harking on about infru for the past two autumns and winters. However, like back home, people catch the common cold rather than the flu. This means everyone spends a few weeks sniffling with blood shot eyes as they drink copious amounts of sickly, hot lemon from the convenient store. Indeed, I have found this the best medicine for the cold here as Japanese drugs are the most embarrassingly weak (and expensive) things I have ever come across. The reason for this is because foreign drugs are too strong for little, tiny Japanese people and their little weak, unique bodies to process. That's what they tell me anyway.

So the result is that half the country buy those white, surgical masks to stop themselves catching it and to stop spreading it. And because this is Japan, nobody in their right mind would think it normal to take a day off work when they're coughing up their brains in bed. Even if a Japanese person has the audacity to stay at home, recuperate and avoid infecting the office then they cannot take a sick day. That is not to say they don't exist but you need to be close to death in order to qualify for one of those. Indeed, your work will kindly take a days holiday on your behalf. I found this out in my first year when someone said I could just use a holiday day to go to the doctor to get my BROKEN LEG put in a cast.

This attitude to come into work no matter what is the opposite when schools are concerned. My first year class has about thirty students and six were off school today because of infru. This means that the WHOLE class has been given the rest of the week off. I don't know if this is to stop the spread or it is so some students don't fall behind in the curriculum. This meant that I had to listen to many, serious conversations regarding infru this morning in work. I can't explain how irritating it is when you're trying to concentrate on understanding Japanese and the conversation is peppered by bastardised English words. Especially when it is said in a tone that suggests the Tano students were at the centre of an outbreak of an evolved and deadly strain of swine fru.

Dear Japan. Infru is just the common cold. Everyone gets it at least once a year. This year's new infru is the same strain as always. If swine fru does go mental and starts to kill everyone then your nation doesn't stand a chance. Occasionally washing your hands with methanol gel will not save you. We will all die. So buy a hot lemon and get on with it.

Update: My school has been cancelled for the rest of the week because 10 students out of about 90 have been off sick.


Anonymous said...

Hmm I don't think our countries would be worried about it if it were just the common cold, but maybe we are just better off buying a hot remon. They don't have those in Mexico right?

Ahoy hoy said...

My point was that Japan is treating the normal flu as some kind of swine flu epidemic that is killing everyone.

Although I have grown to like the cool sensation of the methanol gel.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.