Chinese Medicine and Mister Donut

I think I’m allergic to Japan. I’ve been getting worse since I got here. This morning I went to a pharmacy and between charades and a phrasebook was able to convey my symptoms. The pharmacist (well, at least he looked like a pharmacist) pulled six different medicines off the shelf and showed them all to me. All of them had five or six active ingredients which seemed a bit much, especially as I have no idea what those ingredients could have been—60mg this, 5mg of that. Who knows?

He recommended something he called “Chinese Medicine.” There was 1075mg of the first active ingredient, and four other active ingredients. I figured that if you need 1075mg of something it can’t kill you. He did a lot of talking in Japanese, and he asked one of the young women to translate into English. She said, “Chinese Medicine.” They looked at each other and then at me. They got a book, and looked it up. The book said—no lie—“Chinese Medicine.”

The medicine was actually an envelope full of beige granules that you take with water. He got me a paper cup of water, and I opened the envelope. Just to make sure I had it right, I motioned like I was going to pour the granules into the water. Nope, the trick is to pour the granules into the mouth, then the water is for “after.” I also bought a few travel packs of “tissues.”

After the pharmacy, I walked over to the “Cafe du Monde” and got a coffee and a muffin. The coffee made me feel better, so I washed it down with a “Mister Donut.” This particular Mister(y) Donut was your basic chocolate specimen with the whole in the middle, except it had more of these beige granules all of it. I thought maybe they’d be peanuts, but they were sugary. They tasted better than the medicine.

For the rest of the day I was still sneezy and sick, so I went to the English-speaking tourist info office in the ninth floor of that department store in the train station. These are wonderful people. With some work they managed to translate “antihistamine” and “decongestant,” at least i think so. They wrote me a note, which I brought to a “Drug Store.” The young woman behind counter, who didn’t look at all like a pharmacist, gave me a box with a picture of a red, drippy nose. It had some active ingredients that didn’t require 1075 mg to be effective. She said something about “two capsules… morning and…” / “Evening?” / “Hi.” So is it two in the morning and two in the evening, or one each? Who cares. I’m going to take them until I feel better. There’s only 60 mg of whatever it is in each “capsule.” I figure that whatever it is, 120 mg can’t kill me.

Two hours after taking one capsule, I’m feeling a lot better. Forget the old pharmacist-looking guy with his “Chinese Medicine,” I’m taking the drugs with the picture of the runny nose on the box.

Tomorrow I’m headed out to Himeji castle and then to Hiroshima. Thanks to those great people at, I’ve even got rooms booked ahead for the next three nights. I took a couple hundred photos yesterday at some of the temples in Kyoto. The leaves are changing and this is a beautiful place. I’ll put some pics together over the next couple of days and post them.

Earlier today a monk came to the guest house and chanted for an hour or so in a back room. At some point there was the sound of someone strangling a monkey, not that I know what that sounds like—I’m speculating. And, I’m hoping it was just a coincidence. Just in case, I’m eating at the Yoshinoya tonight. I think maybe they have a parrot or something, a parrot with a sordid past.

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2 responses to “Chinese Medicine and Mister Donut”

  1. I don’t think you are allergic to Japan. We had the same funk here. I am still trying to get rid of the cough… So much for eastern medicine, huh? 🙂

    Chat Later, Jim

  2. hi jason,

    it sounds like you found japan. next time bring your own med.!!! it look’s like a really neat place(both ways) do you have your gps with you? it sounds like you could use some bread crumbs. your pics are really good. hope to see some more.


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