Time to go East Again Blog 3: Teaching and Touring

July 7, 2016

Finally, finally!  Emiko my wonderful friend and tour director has given me time to rest and write my blog.

I have been in the country six days and I feel that I have not stopped. I have been either teaching nursing and midwifery students about Global Midwifery or been on a whistle stop tour of Japan.

I am lucky that my friend Emiko lives in Kobe and we have reasonable access to Osaka, Okayama and Hiroshima.  This is the view from her house. A strange landscape for me usually living in sleepy Taunton in the UK.  Kobe is a busy bustling city with a high train network similar to Chicago in the USA.


I am currently sat on the sofa watching the trains go by. But I can see mountains in the distance.  It is quite a sight.

The first day arrived I was teaching students at Hyogo University.


I am sure I did it completely on adrenaline. But they seemed to appreciate a great deal.  Emiko is my wonderful translator but it can be funny at times as she searches for the right word in Japanese to describe what I have just said.  She is marvelous.  My Japanese is rubbish.  But I can do


Kornichewa –   Hello

Ohio  –  Good morning and to be polite.  Add Gozimas  Ohio Gozimas

And love Hajememashte – which means pleased to meet you.





These have been very useful phrases when meeting members of the Faculty at the University and the many many people I have been introduced to.  Around the world everyone appreciates when someone tries to speak their own language.  We Brits are completely lazy as most of the world knows some English.  But I believe it is really important to try.

Then we began our travels and drove by the famous Himeji Castle.

20160701_154511We were going to stop, but we had done a lecture in the morning and had had a beautiful lunch and were on a deadline to meet our next destination. This apparently (According to Rough Guide) is the most visited castle in Japan.

Beautiful non- the less the Castle looked like a great big pagoda made of paper to me. Very in keeping with Japanese Origami. But this is a big castle. The Japanese call it a “Castle” as was a major fortress in the past.


This was a box of lunch. Really think I am going to like Japanese food and my skill with chopsticks is improving.


When we arrived in Okayama, Emiko took me to visit her friend who has a Midwife House.  She is called Kazco and famous for her Midwifery Practice in Japan. A Midwife House is similar to a UK stand-alone Birth Centre,  A place where women can come and give birth.  In fact in this house, the whole family comes and they all stay.  It is a really wonderful calm, family, concept.  But it is very rare in Japan. Only about 1-2 % access this kind of care.










Kazco was so lovely I had a massage as soon as I arrived on their beautiful massage chair and hands on shoulder and head massage.  It was devine, after all I was a little jet lagged. After green tea I got the tour and even though the house is normal size there were several rooms to give birth.

They have a bath but only tend to use for pain relief not to birth in.  Japanese women don’t appear to have much pain relief either in this Midwife House or at the hospital.


The women have antenatal care and postnatal care at the Midwife House and there was a scan machine and even a CTG machine for tracing the baby’s heart rate.  The facilities were excellent.  Women in the antenatal period have many scans much more than the UK.  Emiko has done research in Japan to show haw this improved bonding between the mother and the unborn baby.


That night we stayed in a beautiful typical Japanese Hotel.

20160701_185111I am a very lucky girl.  We had dinner sat on small cushions on the usual Japanese mat floor and eat at a small table. We were served by a lovely lady in Kimono who nodded and bowed so much I was sure she must have neck ache.  I have soon learned that this is all Japanese politeness. I am finding myself nodding and bobbing with the best of them.



20160701_190036The dinner was so special.  I am really getting the hang of chopsticks. I could use a little at home in the UK.  Emiko assured me that Japanese food was far less calories than English food. Really loved the sushi. Never had before . And I had my first Japanese Saki.  The word for cheers in Japanese is – Kanpai.  It is important for you to fill your companions glass and they to fill yours.  Hmmm  lucky there was                                                                                      only one bottle!

Then we went for the entertainment in the Hotel, which I soon found out would be me.  A group of drummers were entertaining the hotel guests.  I was asked to go up and try to follow their routine.  It was very funny.  Again I think I was by now high on Saki and still a little jet lagged. But the majority Japanese audience really seemed to appreciate and I bonded with my fellow drummers.



The show that followed with real drumming was spectacular in the dark.  I am not sure my picture does it justice.


Following this Emiko and I took advantage of the hot spa on the roof.  Yes on the roof!.  As it was late we had the space to ourselves it was very restful after such a long day.  Alas I did not take my camera. But maybe safer, as this was a naked spa.

We even had a view of the longest suspension bridge in the world.  The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge.  Soon I would travel on this myself.


See you soon.  Will try and Blog again.


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