As the shinkansen flashes by on the parallel bridge, a bullet blur humming and thumping like a taiko drum as it bursts forth from the tunnel I take a deep breath and smile, soak it all in. A clear night’s sky, a cool breeze whipping over the bridge and across the rice paddies below, drifting presumably upwards and towards the heaven like burst of light on the hillside that is otherwise known as the Gorilla Golf Centre. That bright beacon of Japanese culture nestled in small valleys and hillsides around Japan. A porch light to a nation of golfing moths.
After the first experience I had with it, I never expected that so shortly after I’d find myself feeling thankful towards it, even impressed by its speed, efficiency and ability.
Oh Japanese health system, who knew you had it in you to be those things?
Thanks to you I get to enjoy a part of Japan that had eluded me before. The beauty of the countryside and the city as I jog, amble, stumble and sweat up and down hills, across bridges and beside rice fields. Occasionally scaring the bejesus out of poor folks as a sweaty foreigner rounds the corner at the exact same instant. Getting them a second time by declaring my surprise in Japanese.
In stark contrast to my first experience of medical treatment going to get my knee fixed couldn’t have been simpler. After a few weeks where my lifelong dodgy knee, a family trait, had begun to play up far more than usual, (walking and driving, two things that had never affected me before made my old man knee flare up all of a sudden) I decided it was about time I got it properly checked out, rather than accepting the family defect for what it was.
So after strolling into the appropriate local hospital (Japan’s smaller establishments are separated by discipline so to some extent you have to diagnose yourself) ostensibly just to make an appointment, I was passing and it’d be easier than doing it by phone with my middling Japanese, I soon found myself snuck into the one gap in the day’s appointment list.
An hour later I found myself in the first doctors office where he recommended an X-ray to check this troublesome knee as well my back. I sighed. This story occured during my last job, one where free time was at a premium. Getting to this local hospital was a logistical nightmare that minus a car involved an hour and a half hour of travel by train and foot. The thought of trekking back and forth for tests didn’t appeal.
The doctor looked puzzled.
“Nah, we’ll do it now. Down the hall on the left.”
Outside an accident and emergency room in the UK this almost never happens.
So… two scans later.
“Your knee is fine.”
“Your back however… this X-ray shows a normal spine, this is yours. It’s very straight and tight. It’s the source of your pain.”
Two minutes of massage later and my pain magically disappeared.
I asked, “What’s magic in Japanese?”
“Noooo.” He replied, “God hands!”