Episode from My School Days in Kyoto: A Japanese Girl Found Her Own Way by Hidemi Woods
As all the people around me professed Buddhism and Shintoism, I had never been exposed to Christianity until I entered junior high school. The junior high I attended was a private Catholic convent school and most teachers were nuns. Since I had never had any contact with nuns before, they were nothing but mysterious to me. They lived together in a convent next to the school and wore a veil. They were called like Sister Catherine or Sister Patricia although they were Japanese. Until I got used to them, I had always wondered about the small basics. Do they have an ordinary Japanese name? Do they really stay single for life? Are they bold under a veil? Yes, yes, and no, I gradually learned the answers.
I had studied English quite hard to catch up with other students who came from the same convent’s elementary school that gave them a head start in English education. One teacher, called Sister Judith, happened to know that and kindly found a pen pal for me. While students mostly didn’t like sisters, she was an exception. She was popular because she was friendly and beautiful. Students also respected her since she graduated from one of the most renowned universities in Japan and was the smartest sister at school.
The school had the very rigid rules for uniform. If an irregular bag was spotted, it would be confiscated. I carried my personal small bag into school one day in addition to the big uniform bag, and Sister Judith caught me. She said she had to confiscate it and I begged her not to. I promised her I wouldn’t use it for school ever again. She decided to overlook my breach for once out of consideration for my emotional plea. As a stupid teenager, I was defiant to pretty much everything. I believed nothing good existed in this world. So I took my irregular bag out of my uniform bag again as soon as I passed through the school gate after school that day. I was walking toward the bus stop with the bag dangling. Someone called out my name from behind. It was Sister Judith. She didn’t return to the convent as usual and left for an errand on that particular day.
She didn’t confiscate my bag, though. Instead, she was crying. “I trusted you and that was why I let you go. But you betrayed my trust. I’m bitterly disappointed in you,” she said quietly and walked away. I felt it was much better that she yelled at me and took away my bag…
From January of last year to October, I’d had terrible skin trouble on my face. I had eczema mainly on my cheeks that were itchy and peeling. The condition was too bad to be covered up with makeup and I was in a mess. Since I’d never had that kind of problem before, I couldn’t figure out the cause. Eventually I attributed it to an allergy to basil pasta sauce. But I recently ascertained the true culprit and need to clear the basil sauce’s name.
My apartment building has a spa which fee is included in the monthly maintenance fee from the resident. The privilege of using it with no holds barred and the fact I’m cheap send me to the spa every morning and evening. Not using it is a big waste of money for me. At the spa, a hot tub, a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a cold water tub are regularly available. And during the busy time such as the summer holidays and the winter skiing season, an extra hot tub is operated.
When I looked for the solution for my skin trouble, I tried everything including shortening my spa time a little. After the trouble went away in October, it reappeared as soon as I started taking an extra hot tub at the spa in December. The cause wasn’t the basil sauce. I took a bath too much and too long every day. Sweating too excessively and having too much metabolism seemed to cause skin trouble. I knew moderation in all things, but had never known it was also true for a spa and metabolism. I thought they were good for health and the more the better. I’ve read or heard everywhere that metabolism is essential to health, and had never thought it also required moderation. It amounts to this, that I was too healthy.
I reduced time and the frequency for the spa drastically and my skin trouble quickly disappeared. The free spa was my favorite relaxation. Now spending less time at the spa every day, I feel as if I leave an all-you-can-eat buffet after only a few bites each time. My good old days of sweating in a sauna as much as I want and relaxing in a Jacuzzi as long as I want are over. And to make matters worse, now that I’m careful not to sweat too much, I’ve gained a few pounds…