Why do the Japanese sell health foods by colour?

Today I saw an advert for a diet food including ‘five blacks’ (itsutsu no kuro) and there are plenty of juices boasting how many purple things are in them. Although generalising the health properties of foods by colour is certainly not unique to Japan, it seems to be more common and more discussed than I remember back home.

I wonder if it all started with the more traditional health drink of ao jiru (green juice- or literally blue juice – made from various green leaves including kale) and spread from there colour by colour in a typical Japanese process of innovations through variations.

Why is it called “Japanese” encephalitis?

“Although named Japanese encephalitis, because it was isolated in Japan in 1935, this form of the condition is much more common in parts of Asia outside Japan”

Although it’s somewhat more common to the south and west and in rural areas “in Tokyo the last fatality was reported in 1969 and no infections have been recorded since 1990”. So – not much more danger than of getting Spanish flu in Spain…

Quotes from the May edition of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan magazine.

Why do the Japanese count pregnancy as 10 months?

I’ve found two totally different explanations for this:

– The Japanese are still basing what they say on the traditional lunar calendar of 28 days per month (perhaps simplifying from the traditional 10 months and 10 days saying)

and/ or

– The Japanese count from the last period rather from the first missed period

Why do Japanese medicals check for stomach cancer not bowel cancer?

hence the horrible (and not always pointed out – optional) barium drinks:

“Japan has one of the highest rates of stomach cancer in the world, due to the Japanese diet: low in fat but high in salt and nitrates from traditionally preserved fish and vegetables.

Westerners have much lower rates of stomach cancer and so almost no medical back home would include a stomach screening by X-ray…

Meanwhile, the situation is reversed for colon cancers. These are much more common in the West due to the meat- and fat-rich diet favored there. When past a certain age, anyone eating a Western diet should have some form of colon cancer screening.

This is offered by the UK’s National Health Service to those who are over 60 years of age, while U.S. gastroenterologists recommend that patients aged over 50 have regular colonoscopies. Even an elaborate medical check in Japan may neglect this area.”

From British Chamber of Commerce Japan Acumen newsletter, and also stolen by JapanToday here:

What to expect when you’re undergoing a medical check up in Japan?

This topic also came up a few posts ago here, if you want to scan down the page for more.

Why “ningen dokku”?

Kumiko Makihara has just written a typically interesting piece on Japanese regular health checks in IHT, starting with the reason for the name, which is because it is supposed to be like a shipping going into dock to be checked. Other JapanExplained type questions asked include why they are so popular and why nothing is done about the unnecessary worry and additional testing that check ups which 90% of the population fail cause.:

Exam time

Why is Japanese cedar pollen allergy such as problem?

I knew it was a man-made problem, but didn’t know the details until I read The Economist this week. After WWII the sugi trees were planted to provide material to rebuild houses, but after import tariffs fell it became too unprofitable to even be worth cutting the trees down. It’s not just the sheer number of trees that is responsible, though – as they grow higher, each tree emits more and more pollen every year.

Why are the Japanese so worried about the temperature of their tummies?

…as seen in pajamas for kids with huge waist bands and similar waist bands that can be worn under other clothes.

I’m pretty sure that location comes from the Chinese idea that the chi (Japanese ki, a kind of lifeforce), lives in the stomach. It must be said, though, that most cultures have an idea that keeping one particular part of the body hot or cold has almost magical effects on the whole body. My wife was mystified by characters sticking their feet in bowls of hot water in Sean the Sheep and the more recent Western belief that keeping your head warm is enough to keep all of you safe from cold weather has also recently be disproved.

Why has no one heard of paracetamol in Japan?

One major reason may be that it is only known as “acetaminophen” (アセトアミノフェン):

“Paracetamol as it’s known in the Uk has the generic name of acetaminophen. It’s marketed as Tylenol in the US. You can often find Tylenol in regular Japanese pharmacies. If not then ask the doctor for acetaminophen. I’ve been given it in Japan for a fever but it came in 100mg tablets whereas the UK paracetamol is in 500mg tablets. I think the US Tylenol is 350mg in one tablet but I don’t know about the one sold in Japan. Read the label. ”

From the last comment here:

Medicine in Japan on JapanWith Kids


“regarding paracetamol I also managed to find it in Japan !

For the people who are unfamiliar with paracetamol it is a very popular drug that is used as a pain reliever (analgesic) and to reduce fever (antipyretic). However it has no anti-inflammatory properties. This drug was first available in the UK in 1956 under the brand name Panadol (“gentle to the stomach”), unlike aspirin this drug didn’t irritate the stomach lining. The name paracetamol was originally the british generic name for the drug but it was later also adopted as the International Non Proprietary Name.

In the US this drug is known as Acetaminophen (a popular brand is Tylenol), it has been available since 1955. In Japan they also call this drug by the US name, Acetaminophen !! So I found that I could buy it at the pharmacy by asking for Acetaminophen ( the dictionary lists this as the katakana pronunciation アセトアミノフェン )

When I asked for paracetamol initially they had never heard of it, or another place told me it wasn’t available in japan. However when I ask for Acetaminophen no problem !”

from near the bottom of here:

Dental floss and Paracetamol on GaijinPot

Why do Japanese doctors expect birth exactly on time?

“One hospital even required all women to give birth by induced labour on a fixed schedule. This, I supposed, was an offshoot of the just-in-time inventory method that made Toyota so successful.”

About Face by Clayton Naff pg 232

Hopefully this is just a joke, because he also points that Japan has one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates, and that is partly because of doctor’s obsession with birth weight and therefore inducing birth before it would become too difficult. Like most Japanese, they are also free of the irrational Western love of the “natural”.

Why are pregnant Japanese women so mollycoddled?

My wife wasn’t supposed to even cook for one month after giving birth. My theory was that the (hidden) reason was to save them from the traditional slavedriving of their mothers in law. One commenter on this great post on all the things that are banned for Japanese women who are expecting seems to agree.

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