I had this cold as a carry-on baggage along our 20-hour travel from Melbourne to Fukuoka.
The upside is that I don’t smell that combination of heated aluminium foil and microwaved protein during meal service.

We rested for the whole of the first day by going to the public bath. I once read this sign in an old hotel once that the best way to rejuvenate your body is to alternate between the hot sauna and cold water. I’m not sure if I’ve been duped, but it has become a habit for the last 5 years.

Chika’s dad cooked his usual sukiyaki beef in a giant Chinese wok, and all I could taste was the sweetness and the texture of the dish. My body welcomed the protein as all we had on the plane was bread, fruits and nuts.

We knew it was going to be hot, but our bodies still went into shock. On the second day, we could barely survive to enrolling Hana in swim school and had her skin checked out. It didn’t help to have a raging headache from the cold either.

The dermatologist said Hana had mizuibo (molluscum contagiosum), or water warts as the internet would later explain. It’s a common skin infection you get from swimming pool. The specialist put some numbing patches on her body and asked us to return three hours later so they could scrape the warts out. I was not in there with Hana but mum said she did not cry although tears were running down her cheeks.

I napped the evening away in the living room. Apparently, dad left the stove on and burnt his chicken dish. I didn’t catch it due to my blocked nose. Sorry.

We had takeaway yakitori for dinner, and without the sense of smell, I could enjoy the gritty texture of chicken liver and the rubbery chewiness of chicken skin.

I bought a lot of fruits. Perhaps more than what Chika’s mum was comfortable with, like a foreigner that only bought abalone and lobsters in Victoria Market.

Our first Saturday, Chika’s mum and sister took us to this coffee house not too far from my favourite bakery. Basically, this old man converted his living room into his hobby kingdom with the space to fit a counter and one table. He roasts and sells his own beans. Chika’s mum was topping up some beans but all of us received free coffee and snacks. He’s been doing this for 30 years. He went into a spill about his record collection and how Japan has run out of Jamaican Blue Mountain beans. One thing that I really envy about Japan is how everyone accepts and expects passion to override common sense.

That evening I cooked mapo tofu for the family. We took Hana to the shopping mall and she went crazy. I’ve been taken aback by how well she’s coping with Japan. I was expecting her to be all shy and confused like the first time I visited Japan. Perhaps this was her element all along. In fact, she’s having the most fun.
Maybe, my inner child can be like Hana.
Wouldn’t it be nice?