Saturday, 18 October 2014

If you can't beat 'em...

Francesca - it's all your fault!
Francesca - you are our saviour!

Which will it be?

Acting on blog reader Francesca's suggestions in the comments on my last post...I found myself midweek in a bookshop clutching a printout from Amazon Japan of books by or about the Nishi Katsuzo system of health and happiness.

Okaasan's health guru.

40 years ago a school teacher told Okaasan about this man Nishi-sensei, who was popular in the 1920s and 30s in Japan for his ideas about health.
Okaasan went to a training school for lectures about this health system in the 1950s/60s and absolutely believes this is the secret to health.
Her huge negativity towards Western medicine are due to this. Part of his story is that he was a sick child and doctors came and looked at him and couldn't make him healthy. By his own study and methods he became stronger and lived a long life.
Much of what Nishi recommended is now widely accepted as beneficial - drinking 2 liters of water, the exercises etc - at the time it was unusual.

I've been pretty negative about Nishi's ideas.
Well, because Okaasan has boiled his beliefs down to an aggressive: I can exercise myself in my room; I don't need anyone's help; I don't need a doctor/hospital; I won't eat: I know best mantra.
And then she stays on the carpet for days moaning and peeing.
It is hard NOT to feel negative about Mr. Nishi.

But. But.
As Francesca points out - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or at least, show some interest and use it to help.
If I show an interest in Mr Nishi and get Okaasan to think about it all and show more active involvement in her body and health - just maybe we may avoid the moaning and peeing...more.

So. I'm in the bookshop.
Where - to my surprise - there is a Nishi System section on the health shelves! A section of 5 books, written by him or his followers. There was even a manga :-) AND a DVD of the exercises!
With the staff help I decided to get this book.

I'll give it to Okaasan as a present and encourage her to do the exercises. She tells day care people etc that she does these exercises every day - but the reality is that she  doesn't. About once a month we see she is on the carpet with her feet and arms in the air, shaking her hands etc - but it isn't a daily exercise.
Could we even get a DVD player set up and set her a regular Exercise Time every day? A Japanese, old lady version of a Jane Fonda workout? Headband and leotard?

Let's make a start...Francesca...your idea is going into action :-)
This blog has just gone Reader Interactive.


Ellie, the Patron Saint of Foreign Women in Japan.

The daily TV drama about the Scottish woman who married the founder of Japanese whisky in the 1920s. She is blonde, she is cute, ever-ever loving and she struggles so beautifully with the rice cooking, the language and the nuttiness of Japanese life.
All of us foreign women in Japan are in awe of Ellie's strength and overall cuteness.
Heavy sarcasm intended.
It's a Japanese makeover of a real person into an idealized foreigner. Cute and harmless.

Last week Okaasan was watching the drama while I cooked her lunch.
She came into the kitchen.
"That's an interesting drama, isn't it" I commented.
"Yes. You know, in those days it was very hard to be a foreign daughter-in-law..."

"Yes, it's pretty hard now too! "I replied.

Okaasan laughed and laughed and laughed. Me too.

"Now when I have stress from cooking Japanese food for you and DS, I can go to Susukino and meet foreign friends and drink alcohol and complain. Poor Ellie couldn't, there were so few foreigners in Japan at that time. It was harder!"

Okaasan laughed. She loved it.

Oh Ellie. All she needed was a computer and a blog. Her life would have been so much easier.


  1. :-) I feel like Baldrick now: I had a cunning plan my lord! :-))

    Oh, I truly hope this works. I don´t see why it shouldn´t. She adores the guy, his theories are not crazy, and the exercises I saw in the book are really nice. I do a similar basic set during my morning yoga.

    The biggest plus is that I believe this pro-sensei approach will help you immensely to interact with her health wise. It is a good tool. She will have no arguments to refuse to do things he recommends. I am sure she would be doing the exercises daily if her mind helped her to remember doing them.

    That´s why I would definitely go for the DVD in a couple of weeks - let´s say November. You will be able to create a new Winter routine for her, we can call it: "It´s sensei time!". Turn the bloody shopping channel off, put the DVD on and keep a discrete eye on her to see if she is doing all exercises. You can even join her. This would definitely turn her world upside down! :-) and, who knows, it could help your knee.

    Let´s light a candle to Saint Ellie and pray that my idea will help you to make your life easier and her life healthier during this Winter.



  2. Pure genius! Sounds less stressful for you as well. We are all cheering for you!

  3. Thank you! Finally someone else who isn't gushing about Massan like it is actually a good representation of Rita Taketsuru.
    The women was a total badass, and is now being shown as a bit of fluff...ugh.