September 10, 2009

The Anatomy of August: Part 2

Doctor Fish
Have you ever had fish nibble the calluses off your feet instead of a pedicure?
I thought not.
I’ve never actually had a pedicure, so the thought of schools of little fish literally sucking the dead skin from my tired and rather gross feet seemed just plain nutty. This is precisely why I went ahead and did it. I was only slightly crazed from the summer heat, and it only cost 500 yen.

I tentatively dangled my feet into the shallow pool and the fish lunged for them like tiny piranhas. The sensation was initially very odd, certainly out of my comfort zone, but not painful. I squirmed in my seat while my dear wife looked at me with challenging eyes: what kind of wussy-man are ya?
The foot cleaning takes about 10 minutes. You gradually get used to the sensation of a few hundred little fish feasting on your feet. After the first few minutes, a certain numbness creeps in, and the tickling sensation soon feels more like tingling. Its akin to the acute pins-and-needles tingling one feels when the blood returns after your legs or feet fall asleep.

While the Doctor Fish practice seems to have originated in Turkey, it has spread throughout Japan, the rest of Asia and North America. I recommend it, even just for a lark. More information available at:

Miyajima Fireworks
As I noted the previous post, late July to early August is the season of fireworks in Japan. The annual Miyajima fireworks festival is one of the most famous in old Nippon and attracts over 300,000 visitors.
In years past, Naomi and I were usually motorcycle touring in mid-August and had few chances to attend the Miyajima fiesta of explosives. With the addition of Lady E., we now had the opportunity to view the fireworks and give her a thrill. Having seen them before once or twice, I can say with confidence the Miyajima fireworks really are spectacular.
Unfortunately, a great public event also means hordes of spectators and unimaginable traffic gridlock. We left our apartment hours before the fireworks were scheduled to begin, but were still ensnared by the flow of humanity. After significant teeth-gnashing we opted to divert to a park some distance from the main venue. That vantage point was not as impressive— no gut-shaking booms and brilliant streaks overhead like the spectators on Miyajima island experienced, but Lady E. seemed to enjoy the night anyway.

Obon Holiday=Visiting the Homestead & Avoiding Traffic Jams
We visited the family homestead in the countryside outside Hiroshima, which is the traditional custom for Japanese families during Obon. It’s nice to evade the heat and humidity of the city and catch up with members of Naomi’s family. By staying in the Hiroshima region, we also avoided the long Obon holiday traffic jams that result from virtually everyone in Japan taking their long vacations at the same time.

Lady E. at the local shrine near Naomi's place in the countryside

Time slows down when we visit there and I unplug from the matrix for a few days. Elena now has decent leg coordination and she can lope around the old farmhouse and surrounding gardens and rice fields without incident. She has the run of the place and everyone is so happy to see her, which makes us happy, too. And we get watermelon….lots and lots of watermelon!

Election Aftermath
On August 30, the general election was held for control of the House of Representatives in the Japanese Diet. The Democratic Party of Japan won the right to govern Japan.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?” Time will tell.

And that was our August.

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