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The Medical Interpreter Dispatch System

Ijinkai Takeda Hospital Mr. Tsujino

Ijinkai Takeda Hospital Mr. Tsujino

Kyoto, with its many universities and important cultural sites, welcomes not only tourists but emigrants from all over the world. There is a medical interpreter system that can be accessed by foreign citizens so that they can get a medical service to maintain a healthy life. “The Medical Interpreter Dispatch System” is the joint venture between a non-profit organization called the Center for Multicultural Information and Assistance Kyoto, Kyoto City and Kyoto City International Foundation. It dispatches medical interpreters to hospitals in Kyoto City. However, Chinese interpreters are stationed in Ijinkai Takeda Hospital three days a week, and this is the subject of the interview for this article. The interviewee is Mr. Tsujino. He himself had a bitter experience of a language barrier in a hospital. It happened when he studied in Germany. Through his experience and as a hospital staff member, he indicated a need for the medical interpreter system.

When a foreigner comes and says “I feel unwell”, Mr. Tsujino tries to go behind the meaning of his or her words. It is because the words are sometimes different from those of Japanese people. Such unwellness may be caused by the stress of adjusting to unfamiliar circumstance or an allergy to the Japanese climate. He tries to get to the root of the unwellness and give them pointed advice asking them about their condition and history carefully, and sometimes hearing complaints.

When a foreigner is hospitalized for treatment, the staffs of Takeda Hospital try to respect his or her culture, religion, and way of thinking. For example, they provide a meal for patients whose diet is restricted because of their religion. All hospital staff try to greet patients in their mother tongue. Takeda Hospital is prepared to receive foreign patients in order to enable them to attend for treatment or prepare for childbirth, feeling relieved because the interpreter service is available.

Mr. Tsujino, however, has something that he wants foreign patients to keep in mind. That is, laws are different in each country. And hospital systems of a hospital are different if laws are different. He asks those who are receiving treatment under the policies and systems of a Japanese hospital, to forget the rules about going to hospital in their mother country. The hospital respects their culture background, but patients need to accept its system. It seems to be necessary for hospitals to show patients the difference between what hospital staffs can do and what they cannot do in Japan.

Mr. Tsujino takes great pleasure as a medical interpreter when a patient leaves the hospital smiling. He hopes that the medical interpreter system will improve more so that foreign patients and hospital staffs may cooperate with each other and they receive a good medical service.


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A bow makes POLITE impression

A bow makes POLITE impression

A bow makes POLITE impression

Petals of cherry blossoms were falling, I called at the Kyoto International Community House(KCIF) to interview foreign residents and visitors attending the flower arrangement class and Ink Art class held by the KCIF volunteer group COSMOS on Saturday afternoons. The interviewees theme was Japanese courtesy, the BOW.  I interviewed about ten students and asked them what they thought about a bow and if they differentiated between a bow at a temple and a bow at a shrine.

Many interviewers had a good impression of a bow and expressed that it was admirable, polite and welcoming.  Some of them felt that it was too polite, because people bow many times.  They knew the difference between a bow at a temple and one at a shrine.  I was deeply impressed by the person who said a bow at a shrine was cheerful and a bow at a temple was quiet.  

Generally speaking at a shrine we bow twice and clap twice, offer a prayer to god, and bow again.  On the other hand at a temple we quietly clasp our hands together in prayer in front of an object of devotion.   Bow the right way and hope that your prayer is answered.

-SEKINO Masako
-translated by YAMASHITA Motoyo

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Summer Travel on Highway Bus

An alternative to the popular travel by train in Japan, is the highway bus. It is slower but cheaper than train. There are numerous highway buses, day and night buses, connecting major cities and small towns. Japan Railways (JR) is one of the largest operators for nationwide highway bus, but there are several other regional buses available. Prices among them are similar, but some bus operators offer student discount fare, early-bird discount, and cheaper price for the 4-seater-row bus.

For example, the cheapest way to travel from Kyoto/Osaka to Tokyo is by taking the night bus Seishun Mega Dream which is only 3500yen one way, in a 4-seater-row non-reclining chair. For a more comfortable ride, there is the Dream Express at 15,190yen round trip, in a separated 3-seater-row Double Decker bus. If you plan ahead and purchase 21days in advance, you get a further 35% discount. Compared to a Shinkansen ticket that costs 13,720yen one way, it is only half the price, and it saves you one night of accommodation as well. This is the link to the Japan Highway Bus Database where you can check the price and schedule.


-Shi P'ng Ch'ng

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The Weather of a Japanese Summer -- Heatwave!

Japan's rainy season, which is starting just about now, will be followed by a hot summer. The Japan Meterological Agency has established new designations for the coming weather. Two terms already in use are 'natsubi' and 'manatsubi'. Natsubi simply means summer day, and signifies a day in which the temperature is 25 degrees Celsius (about 77 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. Manatsubi, basically meaning 'true summer day,' is a day in which the temperature is 30 (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit) degrees Celsius or higher. This year,however, the Agency has created a new term, 'moushobi'—which translates directly as 'heat wave day.' On such a day, the temperature will reach at least 35 (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit) degrees Celsius. This new term has been created because the Agency believes that the frequency of such weather will increase in the future. Kyoto's summers are said to be very hot, so please think about how you'll protect yourself against this year's weather.

-translated by Chris SCHIMOLER

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Series: My favorite Kyoto

13 years ago, I moved to Kyoto. And I was very impressed with the environment in the neighborhood of Yoshida North Campus (Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University).

I ride my bike whenever I have time. Quaint houses stand in row from the west side of Shirakawa-Dori to the south side of Higashi Kurama Guchi-Dori. And there are flowers of the season in their well-kept gardens. I feel the wealth, the diligence and the elegance of the people living there, similar to the beauty of traditional handcrafts.

After going around the residential area, and a beautiful pastoral landscape, completely different from that area, spreads out if you go north along Higashi Kurama Guchi-Dori. You can see the strawberries in spring, the eggplants, bell peppers and tomatoes in summer, the ears of rice in autumn, and the Japanese radishes in winter. There are also lines of ornamental cabbages for New Year’s Day alternating the red of the cabbage with the white of the snow on snowy days. The various crops please my eye all year around. After this tour you can rest in front of Shugakuin junior high school and then cycle back home.

It delights me to be surrounded by such a beautiful pastoral landscape and the witness people’s lives all within 30 minutes of the center of the city by bike. In addition, I can go there anytime with everybody, or, even alone when I have time. 13 years have passed since I came to Japan. Even now I never tire of this sight because I have so much pleasure in such small things.

-translated by ISHIZUKA Mie

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