We had a break from lessons today; instead we went on a school trip to Tokyo’s ‘Life Safety Learning Centre’. Rather than the family clinic image that the name suggests, this was in actual fact a hands-on experience of how to cope with natural disasters. Highlights included: an earthquake simulator; being allowed to use a fire extinguisher; and having to escape from a smoke filled maze. The latter was meant to assess your capability in escaping from a burning building, although being somewhat taller than the average Japanese person, the height sensors that were used to monitor if people were crawling (good) or walking upright (bad) gave the impression that I would probably have died a horrible smoke-filled death.
However, even a smoke-filled death seemed cheery compared to the probable topic of the next chapter in our Japanese textbooks. A quick glance through the vocabulary turned up these merry morsels: ‘bedridden’, ‘cancer’, and (the rather un-PC) ‘human vegetable’. ‘Long life’, ‘cure’, and ‘surgical operation’ presented at least a glimmer of hope, but it has to be said that the outlook seems pretty bleak.