I just signed up for Hari, which is totally different from Harakiri (Japanese ritual suicide whereby you slice open your stomach with a sword - and it's an honorable thing to do - how's that for culture shock). Signing up in itself was an ordeal, as I stumbled my way through all the unfamiliar medical Japanese. Even without the medical terms it would have been a challenge, as in the moment of performance I start tripping over my words and spitting out whatever comes to mind. A Japanese friend once told me that I speak "Impressionist Japanese", basically that I just keep tossing out words and they draw meaning from all the words being tossed out.

So anyway, what's Hari? Literally, needles. I guess we changed the name to acupuncture to reduce the fear factor a few degrees. But I had a back injury here once, and before i could even protest a friendly old neighbor had me on the hari-man's table. And wouldn't you know, it was the most instant, pain-relieving healing my back has ever had. Good thing they forced me into it though, because the image of it had been weird enough to keep from ever trying it. Kinda the same thing with the toilets here. Washlets they are called. The nicest ones have a remote control the size of your television's, where you can change jet distance, pressure, angle, pulse stream, massage, etc; on the really good ones there is even a blow dryer. I haven't used toilet paper in months! (that would be an eye-grabbing headline) Apparently they test-marketed them in the U.S. and they just didn't catch on. I say we are missing out.