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Medical Checkups and Minimalism

Today was day two of my de facto weekend: I have three more days of training (this time in uniform, even though my commute still has to be in a business suit), followed by one day off on the 17th for Ocean Day (also known as "Umi no hi," one of Japan's plentiful national holidays) and then I FINALLY, OFFICIALLY start in my assigned store on the 18th. Ulp.

Today I spent the morning lounging around my apartment, Skyping my mother, and cleaning the bathroom. Then I set off for the Tokyo Midtown Clinic where I had scheduled a "health screening" which is essentially a battery of seemingly random tests that is required, annually, for all employees at Nitori. This clinic is in Roppongi, a bit of a ways away from me but it could 1. do all the tests required (some clinics did not have, for instance, the equipment to do the hearing test) and 2. had staff that could speak English. While I did end up conducting all of the procedures in Japanese, the fact that all the PAPERWORK was in English was most convenient. 

The entire appointment, which was scheduled for two, took no more than twenty-five minutes, tops. No patient has their own waiting room, like they do in the U.S. Instead, there are a series of stations set around a central area and you are, in effect, "passed" from one station to another as they open up. You sit in the chairs, dressed in a surprisingly comfortable and warm patient's gown, until your number is called (mine was 64) and then you do test A, which takes only a minute or two since there's no chit-chat, and then go back to waiting until test B is free and so on and so forth. Many of the tests I needed to take were normal--height, weight, blood pressure--but many were weird. Why, for instance, did I have to take a resting electrocardiogram for goodness's sake? I also had to have several vials of blood drawn, and in the instructions I was given I was told not to eat during the 8 hours leading up to my appointment, which meant that I couldn't eat breakfast or lunch at all...and anyone who knows me knows that I get hangry and cranky when I don't eat regularly. Whoops. 

In a slightly more fun note, I went to a small (but free!) exhibit of Japanese graphic design. 


The exhibit was part posters, part packaging and design for various products. 


The posters were my favorite, and here is just a small selection of my favorites:


A poster for a Taiwanese dessert.


Not exactly sure what this particular poster is for, but I found it so striking.


This poster made me laugh because I had just gone to see the David in Florence in March. Here's a very rough translation of what it says (there's so many nuances in verb conjugation, here, that the exercise is good practice for me):

Laughing?
Were laughing?
Made to laugh?
Laughter is happiness.
It's because having laughed is being made to love.
Being made to laugh is the highest kindness.  
Right now [I will give] laughter to everyone in the world. 
Surely there will be world peace.
People will become energetic.
The future will be very bright.
Right now five designers are sowing 25 kinds of laughter in the world through posters. 


A poster for a chocolate company.

There were, of course, many more posters than the sampling I've provided. I think it's very interesting that you don't really notice bad graphic design, but GREAT graphic design really stands out. And it seems simple--deceptively so--but so difficult to come up with. Like a great ad campaign that you remember for years afterwards (the one that I always think of is one for Heinz ketchup my parents told me about, where the commercials were set to the song "Sweet Anticipation" because the ketchup was so slow to come out of the glass bottles!). 

After that I went back home and just hung around my neighborhood some more. I took a brief walk through the nearby park but didn't stay long because the mosquitoes here, unlike the ones at home, love me. I must have gotten five new bits on my ankles alone. The slightly cooler temperatures aren't worth the itch. I can't WAIT for it to be fall. 

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