Plain Talk


Vaccination campaign: Japanese Encephalitis by Anne Corinne

If you are living in Japan with young children, your city hall will most probably send them some free of charge coupons for Japanese encephalitis immunizations. You may be surprised about it, as most foreign countries don’t organize any vaccination against this disease. And, by the way, WHAT IS Japanese encephalitis?

This infection is said to have been reported for the first time in 1871 in Japan, hence the name “Japanese Encephalitis”, although it also exists in surrounding Asian countries.

The risk is especially high from May to October, mostly in Japanese agricultural areas with flooding irrigations (rice fields, etc.).

The virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, causes viral encephalitis. There is no efficient treatment to cure the infection, and permanent brain damage or even death can occur, especially among children.

At the moment, vaccines are the only available measures to keep protected from the disease. This is why Japan organizes massive immunization campaigns at an early age for all its young residents, as the disease has been recognized as a public health issue.

A 1st term vaccination will start when your child is around 3 years old, followed by another injection the following month and a 1st term booster 1 year later. Then, a 2nd term immunization will be done between the age of 9 and 12 years old.

Thanks to Japan’s vaccination campaign efforts, cases of Encephalitis are now rare, but the virus still remains among mosquitoes in the affected areas. This is why adult foreigners who are not immunized against the disease remain at risk. Ideally, we are recommended to get vaccinated too, especially if we spend a lot of time outdoors, or at least to take as many precautions as possible to avoid mosquito bites, by using long-sleeved clothes, repellents and insecticides.

Anyway, once we experience Japanese humid summer and its inevitable mosquitoes, trying to keep them away cannot make us any harm…




ウイルスを持つ蚊を介して感染し急性脳炎を起こす。ウイルスに直接効く抗生物質はないため、治療方法は対症療法のみだ。脳性麻痺等後遺症を残し、死に至ることも ある。





Plain Talk


What kind of Kawaii? by Dean Mejia

Recently I broke up with my long-time girlfriend. This led me to do what any other newly single guy that hasn’t dated in awhile would do. I created a profile on a dating app, and spent about 1 whole hour looking at different profiles of prospective date candidates.

I had a Japanese friend by my side and he was helping me to select which girls I would message. My communication with my Japanese friend never gets that deep because of our different upbringings. We don’t have much in common. So…with that in mind, all I kept asking him was the same kind of questions about each girl: “Do you think she’s kawaii?” “How kawaii is she?”, etc. He mostly gave me a non-verbal thumbs-up or thumbs down for each girl.

There were a few interesting responses from him though. I showed him a picture of a semi-cute girl with messy hair, disheveled clothing, and stains on her bed sheets He said she was “kimokawaii”. I had never heard the term before. I found out it means something that is both cute and a little disgusting at the same time. I don’t think that I’ll be contacting her.

I saw another slim woman with 5 ear piercings and a leather jacket. He referred to her as “kakookawaii.” This is supposedly when something is cute and cool at the same time, but leans more towards being cool. I thought about contacting her, but my confidence is not too high since I just broke up (a.k.a., she may be too cool for me right now).

The last date option that I showed him was my favorite. She was very alluring and sultry with her fashion sense, but had kind of a baby-face. He said this style is called “erokawaii”. It is supposed to combine the Japanese affinity for cute innocence, and a more Western sense of adult sexiness. I like it.

I never knew that there were all of these subcategories of kawaii. I researched a little afterwards and found out that there is also gurokawaii (creepy, with a twist of sadism), shibukawaii (more low-key or subdued cuteness) and busukawaii (something so ugly that it’s cute). I’m sure there are probably other categories being created right now as you’re reading this. I can’t research any more right now though. I need to message my top choice before another guy gets her first. Ganbarimasu.

What’s App With You?



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Tokyo Voice Column


Weekly headlines from an English School near you by Matthew Alexander

I am a Tokyo resident/English teacher/blogger.

The following is a pretty self explanatory `onion` style post about my observations as an eikaiwa teacher called "headlines from an English school near you". I figured many readers of TNB have experience of English teaching so it might resonate with them.

Local man, 32, confused by question "how are you doing today?": stares blankly at textbook for possible answers

CEO of mid-sized company responds to statement "nice weather today" with awkward silence, sweating: his thoughts on this matter still remain unclear at time of going to press

Open ended question given closed answer: "what are your plans for the weekend, Takeshi?" answered with "yes, thanks"

Japan officially designated a "very safety country" by female, 28: teacher refuses to correct: "if one more person says that phrase, I will scream", says Steven, 37

Shuichiro, 56, stubbornly fails to get better at English despite 2 lessons a week for 3 years: inadvertently upholds "you can`t teach an old dog new tricks" theory

"This is just a temporary job until I start my real career" says Michael, 37: 13 years as English teacher just a stop-gap until he "gets into writing, or something"










Strange but True


The Selfie Effect

If you find yourself taking hundreds of selfies but still aren't happy with the image, then you may have fallen victim to the ‘selfie effect.’ A new study by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School has revealed the distortive effects of selfie cameras, which are prompting many people to develop a skewed self image. Young adults are constantly taking selfies to post to social media and think those images are representative of how they really look, which can have an impact on their emotional state. It revealed that an average selfie - taken about 12 inches from the face - makes the nose appear 30 per cent bigger, compared to an image taken 1.5 metres (5 feet) away. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, 55 per cent of surgeons say people come to them seeking cosmetic procedures for better selfies.

Truth about plus sizes

Small fashion brands are often blasted for not making clothes above a size 16. They find it frustrating that people don’t realise that ‘you can’t just make bigger versions of smaller sizes’, and it’s not as easy as just making the pattern larger, due to differing weight distribution which is more apparent in larger sizes. So, is that really the case? Could that be why many brands don’t make plus sizes? A clothing manufacturer based in London confirmed that the process of designing plus size clothing is more difficult than with smaller clothing. As the body size increases, the body shape changes differently and also because a really well made comfortable and flattering product for a larger size may also need to rethink or tweak the design to ensure the end product still fundamentally works. However, while designing plus size versions of garments isn’t as easy as designing the smaller sizes, it is do-able. So should we be pressuring all mainstream brands to go larger? Or is it unfair to expect a business − especially smaller, independent ones − to channel money into a line that costs them more to produce, and may/may not bring them much in return?


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