The Saga of my Funny Knee

Back when I was in Class 10, I dislocated my knee at a wedding. I still have no idea how it happened. It was diagnosed as a recurrent patellar luxation. Which means that it is a dislocation that could occur again, if not treated right. I thought it was, even though in the following years I had repeated subluxations – near dislocations. All that came to a head about a month ago when I completely dislocated my knee again. And this time it was for the better.

I chose not to go to the doctor immediately, but I did go on the first working day following the dislocation. After a obligatory x-ray, the doctor told me that the knee-cap was not sitting in the joint correctly, and unless I got it treated, it would continue to dislocate on a regular basis and with increasing frequency. So I opted for the treatment which consisted of a knee-brace that I must wear for at least 3 months, and physiotherapy for two months.

But wait, you say, why would you write about this in a blog highlighting your experiences of different cultures? Because this is about the awesome Japanese medical system! First, almost everything is covered by the National Health Insurance, and I have to pay only 30% of all my medical costs, even for the rather expensive knee brace. And the doctors and staff are really helpful and cheerful. I went intending to use my broken Japanese to explain the problem, but the doctor did his best to explain the issue in English. The physiotherapist assigned to me does his best to speak English, while I do my best to answer in Japanese. Most of all, I can actually see the improvement in my knee – nothing is quite as awesome as that. One of the methods they use is electric stimulation, which causes my muscles to contract. When I first did it, I couldn’t stop snickering, as it reminded me of nothing more than how frog legs are used to demonstrate the relation between electricity and muscle contractions.

Board-/Card-gaming in Japan

Well, here I am again after another long hiatus – surprise surprise – and thus, we can certainly establish that I now how to procrastinate. Rather than ramble on about all that I’ve done in the last 6+ months, today I shall talk about a topic that is of renewed interest to me. I have rather recently started attending a couple of game circles and have also visited a game café here in Sapporo, and overall the experience has been stellar. I cannot wait to go back for more!

I have bought and otherwise acquired a few games over the course of the last half year or so, but I’ve never really had anyone to pay them with. I had previously looked up board game cafés in town, but I’ve been leery of going to them because of the language barrier. Also, at the one gaming store I have been to, on multiple occasions the small playing area was populated almost exclusively by Magic the Gathering players, with not a single board game in sight.

I did actually find a list of a few board game groups that meet at monthly intervals in Sapporo, and this last month I finally bit the bullet and attended one. It was a lot of fun! Yes, almost all the participants are not even remotely close to fluent in English, but that suits me just fine as I want to learn Japanese anyway! And there were so many games! In addition, one of the guys there runs his own game group and I was invited to attend. So that’s already two game groups, with the next session this Sunday.

I also went to a tiny board-game café this past weekend. It was a little expensive… not terribly so, but not something I can afford to do regularly. The reason I went is that they organise 1-day game events. When I first learnt about them, I was very taken by it. But since I didn’t know whether I would enjoy it, I went to the café to see what it would be like. And it was totally worth it. Again, everything is in Japanese, other than some of the games proper, But I have been more than a year now so that is becoming less and less of an issue.

In the following posts I will detail experiences at each individual game group and at the 1-day event. And whenever I travel I will make a special effort to find and play with the game groups.