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Staying Healthy in Tokyo

Hi Readers!

I’m nearing the end of my survival phrase Japanese training. Today I did lessons 46-50 on Japanese, and 32 and 33 on survival phrases. A lot of today’s lessons dealt with allergies and being sick. I can speak about a few things related to this.

Disney Sea on a Rainy Day

Disney Sea- Alex and Mickey

These photos were taken at Tokyo Disney Sea. It poured all day! With weather like this, it’s important to try to keep from getting sick! [Photos courtesy of Alex Montalvo]

Fortunately, I have not been sick in Japan to the point that I have needed to take any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter), so I cannot tell you about any experiences spent in a doctor’s office or pharmacy. I can however say something that has interested me and the group I’ve traveled here with.

If you’ve been to Japan, you may already know about this, and if not, you may have seen it on TV, but not understood it. Often, walking around the streets of Tokyo, I see men and women wearing face masks, like the ones you see dentists wearing. At first I didn’t understand why, and thought maybe they didn’t want to be around the public catching things from other people. I thought it acted like a shield to stay healthy. I later found out that the opposite is true.

If you’ve been following the blog, I hope that I’ve done a good job thus far telling you just how polite and caring the Japanese people are, wearing the face mask is only an exemplification of this. The reverse is true in that the face masks are worn when the wearer is sick. Instead of spreading his or her sickness throughout, they try to keep it contained by wearing a cotton mask. While this isn’t necessarily related to sickness, it probably also helps that before every meal here in Tokyo, a warm hand towel is given to the diner to wipe his or her hands clean.

I think that it is extremely thoughtful of the Japanese to do this. In America, someone wearing a mask would get weird looks, but it just makes sense!

Another point I can mention is the jet lag. Between here and Los Angeles there is a 16 hour difference. Essentially, for those readers on the west coast of the US, I am writing to you from tomorrow. A flight from LA to Tokyo is 11 hours. I believe from Paris to Tokyo, it is about the same. With the time change and the long flight, it is easy to feel dizzy when you first arrive.

My suggestion is to take some kind of over-the-counter pill to make you drowsy and help aid in sleep on the plane. It seems to me that many flights for Tokyo take off around noon (from Los Angeles) and arrive the next day in the late afternoon. If you sleep at least several hours on the flight, it will be like sleeping the night in between the afternoon you left and the afternoon you arrived.

Once you get to Japan, don’t immediately go to sleep! Try to stay awake until a good, normal bedtime. This isn’t hard to do. If it’s your first time in Tokyo, go out and explore your surroundings a bit! Start taking in this fun city right away! Once ready for rest, you can take melatonin pills before bedtime, which aid in adjusting your sleep cycle. They’ll also make you drowsy to help you fall asleep.

The final thing I can share deals with staying healthy! This past weekend, I spent an entire day outside in the pouring rain at Tokyo Disney Sea park located just outside of Tokyo. It was tons of fun, but I felt soaked to the core by the time I got home. Located in the energy drink area of convenience stores are also vitamin booster drinks. In my experience, they’re a jelly consistency instead of liquid, but nonetheless have been popular with the other people in my group trying to keep from getting sick.

Hopefully these tips are worthwhile for any Tokyo-bound traveler.