Japanese Patient Cards

Lazy blogger is lazy. Actually, it’s only partially laziness. The rest of it is political canvassing, which is kind of exhausting. Anyway! I dug around in the archives for posting material and settled on something random: my Japanese patient cards!

Patient Cards

Patient cards from two different places. I blurred out my year of birth.

Since I no longer live in Matsuyama, I don’t really care about showing these. The one on top is for Ehime Prefecture Central Hospital. Ken-byouin (as it’s called locally) is where I had surgery on my hand and where I subsequently had about 20 after care visits. Despite no one speaking English, Ken-byouin and I became good friends. The one on the bottom is for the clinic I visited monthly to pick up a medication I’ve taken for many years. Japan doesn’t really do prescriptions that can be filled multiple times.

The patient card system is interesting simply the US does things differently. In Japan, when you go to a new clinic or hospital, you fill out a bunch of paperwork and are issued a card. On subsequent visits, you give the receptionist your patient and insurance cards and that takes care of the check-in. In my experience, at major hospitals like Ken-byouin you put the patient card in a machine and the machine prints out instructions. Then you give your insurance card to the nurse assigned to your specific physician.

I actually like the patient card thing. I think it makes it easier for them to find your information and get things to the doctor, since medical records are all digital. I kind of miss the efficiency of just handing over a couple of cards and then taking a seat.

Old Town Kawagoe

Long time no blog post! I got a cold last week, and I’m still hanging in there on the job, so I haven’t had a ton of energy. But today I’m back at it with a little something about Japan! You know, the usual.


Old town Kawagoe.

Kawagoe is a satellite of Tokyo that stands on its own pretty well. Its nickname is Koedo (小江戸/Little Edo), after the old name for Tokyo, and it’s locally famous for having preserved a few streets from the Edo Period (1603-1868), along with a historic bell tower and the ruins of Kawagoe Castle.

If you’re going to be in Tokyo for more than a few days, I actually do recommend spending an afternoon in Kawagoe. It isn’t far and, if you’re interested in a nostalgic trip into the not-so-distant past and like sweet potato, the Candy Street (菓子屋横丁/Kashiya Yokochou) alone is worth the trip. Kawagoe is famous for sweet potato, so on the Candy Street you can find everything from sweet potato ice cream to sweet potato candy to sweet potato beer. And it’s all tastier than my western readers might think!

I admit, I look at Kawagoe through the lens of personal nostalgia (it’s my Japanese hometown), but I genuinely think it’s a great city to visit. A little quirky, a little historical, and very unique.

Access: From Ikebukuro Station, hop on the Tobu-Tojo Line going to Kawagoe-Shi, Shinrin Koen, or Ogawamachi (same train, different terminal stations). A semi-express will get you to Kawagoe Station in about 30 minutes.

My Favorite Bookstore

This isn’t a secret at all, but I’m a huge bibliophile. I love reading, I love books, I love bookstores, I majored in English literature… it’s pretty much been my “thing” my entire life. So, naturally, I have favorites! And today I’m going to share my favorite bookstore: a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place in Salem, Oregon, called The Book Habit.

The Book Habit

The Book Habit!

As I’m sure you can tell, The Book Habit is a used bookstore (the best kind of bookstore). It’s at the bottom of a very steep flight of outdoor steps, a little bit tucked away, and inside it’s small and crowded. It’s the kind of place where everything is cheap, to the tune of $3 paperbacks, but you have to do some digging because the shelves are not very well-organized and are often packed two rows deep. I go there every time I’m in Salem and always emerge with something, usually something I wasn’t expecting to find. It’s a fantastic place.

Address: 390 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR 97301

Foreign Currency

Foreign Currency

My assorted foreign currency. Japan, the UK, Canada, the EU, and… Serbia, I think? I don’t know, someone gave that one to me.

I love foreign currency. Whenever I leave the US, I like to bring back a little bit of money just to have it. I have random collections, okay? There’s actually a decent amount of money in that pile, but I don’t intend to ever have it exchanged to US dollars.

Of course, my biggest collection is yen! When I left Japan the last time, my employers paid out the tiny remainder of my salary in cash and I had a little bit of money in my purse, so I ended up bringing about $350 in yen back to Seattle. The salary I exchanged, of course, but I decided to keep the purse contents. And it seems like something nice to talk about, in case some readers are unfamiliar!


My remaining yen!

From the top down (right to left): ¥1,000 note, ¥500 coin, ¥100 coin, ¥50 coin, ¥10 coin, ¥5 coin, and ¥1 coin. At the current exchange rate, ¥1,000 is about $12 and a ¥1 coin is as useless as ever.

So that’s my little currency collection! Nothing overly exciting, but it still makes me happy.

A Bit of Engrish

Everyone’s heard of Engrish – that weird sort of pseudo-English popular in Asia. It can be found in most Asian countries (China has some excellent examples), but Japan is widely considered its home. This dubious honor is easily supported by the many, many pictures on the internet of strange signage, t-shirts, and other such things.

And today I have such a picture for you!

Engrish Menu

The menu at a seafood restaurant in Osaka. My favorite is “enough crab”. What guidelines were used here? Maybe I won’t think it’s enough. Did you ever think of that, person who clearly decided Google Translate could do no wrong?

Karaoke Music Videos

I’ve talked about karaoke before. In that post, I briefly mentioned the hilarious nature of most of the karaoke music videos. Since the chains rarely have use rights to the real music videos (or real music videos just don’t exist), they fill in with one from their video library. Do enough karaoke and you will become very familiar with every single one because there really aren’t all that many.

The best part of this process, though, is that they never seem to take into account the content of the songs. So most of the time you end up with a bizarre sort of mix-and-match that doesn’t make any sense. And that is what I’m sharing today: a few pictures from the weird karaoke files.

Karaoke Video

How about some low grade sci-fi with your Mary Poppins?

Karaoke Video 2

Hey look, it’s ’80s Man!

Karaoke Video 3

Wait, the real music video? What is this madness?

Karaoke Video 4


I decided to put the toy monkey brightly colored one last because it is the creepiest of all. It was actually the other half of the Mary Poppins video, which is even more peculiar given that it has absolutely nothing to do with the bad CGI, which in turn has absolutely nothing to do with Mary Poppins. It’s like a fractal of poor planning.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the strange world of Japanese karaoke videos! I only wish I’d thought to start taking pictures sooner because there were so many others I could have preserved for posterity.

Autumn Color

Autumn is slowly starting to set in here in the Pacific Northwest and I’m reminded of my autumns spent in Japan. So today is a short, simple post before I go to work, sharing a beautiful day from October 2008, right when the leaves were really changing.

Autumn in Saitama

Autumn in a park in Saitama.