I’ve succumbed to my first Japanese cold. Fortunately, I brought some echinacea with me and, with its help, I’m hoping that this doesn’t amount to much. I don’t really have to use my teacher voice here as my biggest class has only eight students and the rooms are quite small but my throat was very sore at school yesterday which makes teaching rather difficult. Today’s my day off so my voice will get a rest but I decided that I’d better go in search of lozenges and decongestants just in case they’re needed. Back in Canada, that would be no big deal but here, where I don’t understand the language, it’s all part of the adventure.
My favourite cold medication is Sudafed but, since it contains a substance that is banned in Japan, we weren’t able to bring any with us. There are three little drugstores in the shopping area surrounding our closest school so I went exploring to see what I could find. In the first store I entered, I found some Halls nestled amongst the chewing gum! There was only one flavour and since all the labeling except the brand name is in Japanese, I have no idea what it is but at least I know that it’s lozenges. I discovered cold medications behind glass under the front counter. I could tell that that’s what they were by the pictures and a few English words on some of the packages but there were so many kinds! How would I choose? What a delight to discover that the girl behind the counter spoke enough English to help me out! She was able to ask about my symptoms, recommend the decongestant that she felt was best and explain the dosage. As she rang up my purchases, she asked if I had a points card. I didn’t have, of course, but she was able to explain that if I had one I’d receive points with every purchase and eventually earn a discount. Since there was no cost involved in getting a card, she helped me fill out the application form and I now have a bright yellow Matsumoto KiYoshi point card! Since we usually buy things like paper towel and toilet paper at the little drugstores, I’ll make sure I frequent that one from now on. Not only will my purchases earn me points, but more importantly, I know that there’s someone on staff who speaks enough English to help me if I need it. It may be crazy but carrying a points card from a local store is just one more little thing that makes me feel like I belong here!