Japan 2005: Combini lunch and visit to the Hospital

After checking out of the hotel, we grab a quick lunch from a combini… convinience store which are just about everywhere in Japan. There is of course 7-eleven, but there are others I have only seen in Japan… Family Mart, Lawson’s, Sunkus, Star-heart-Circle (that’s the picture on their sign), Ministop and there is a new one since my last visit called Shop 99+. The convenience stores are not much liked by Japanese, but they are so convenient, that many people use them. The prices are high, and the food is not the freshest, but still better than airline food. And when I say they are everywhere, I mean everywhere. You can find a combini every other block in most populated areas. And even in the rural areas, there will be at least two or three combini every 2km or so.


At any rate we grab some onigiri, which are rice balls (usually shaped as squares/triangles), with tuna or bean fillings. They are quiet tasty and easy to manage while driving. And the kids like/love them. I get a coke to drink, which is my drink/drug of choice. I am sure the cola companies have secret memos and labs like the cigarette makers that outline and describe their methods for making their products more addictive. That and coffee, which I can’t blame one brand like Coke as I will drink any coffee as long as I have cream and sugar.

From the hotel in Narita we drive to Yokohama, which is a suburb of Tokyo, but still the population is the size of Chicago. It is about 80km from the airport and takes almost two hours on a day when there is little traffic. Here we stop at the hospital and see my wife’s father. He is having many visitors today, and we wait so that his room is not packed. Many of the visitors are business associates and assorted family. His brother and sister-in-law and mom are leaving just as we arrive and so we see them a little. We will visit them later in the weeks to come. The mom (great-grandmother to my kids) is 80+ years old and is the only great grandparent living for the kids to get to know.

We finally get in to see my wife’s dad and he does not look well. I won’t describe it, but it was not terrible, just not his normal healthy look. We stay only a short while and then leave for their home. We take my wife’s mom and nephew with us as they came with her brother but he left without them. The hospital in Japan was pretty much the same as the US. Doctors and nurses and patients moving about. It seemed dirtier but I was only last at the hospital in the US for the birth of my daughter and that was mostly the maternity ward which I am sure is kept extra clean.

The diagnosis has gone from the worse case to a very postive outcome. There is a chance that the tumor is benign. Meaning that they will let him out in a few days time. And he may not need extended treatments. They did operate to remove the tumor and part of his lungs. So he will still have some time to recover from that. This is much better though than what was initially thought. So every one is much more calm and things are not as tense.

I am exhausted by the time we get back to the home and just crash. At a Japanese home we sleep on futons on the floor. So for our stay, we take up one room in the tiny two room apartment of my wife’s parents. Her mom and nephew, who is staying also, sleep in the other room, which is also the dining/living/family/everything area. There is a kitchen and dining table area as well, but it is so packed that it is usable only for cooking as only one person can move around in there at a time. Later my wife wakes me for dinner, which is sashimi. Sashimi is just plain raw fish served on cabbage or rice. This is on cabbage and rice is separate. I love sashimi and have a good meal. There is also a tofu and a veggie stir fry dish that is served as well.

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