Kuruma isu? Oba-use? What is going on?


Delicate cherry/tree graces ancient canal/but first climb ...

We left Nagasaki for Kurashiki, a city of 500,000, known for its historic district of restored wooden buildings and a long moat surrounded by willows and crossed by bridges. Quoth the guidebooks: an ideal atmosphere in which to amble. I finally agreed to go to the hospital.

The doctor diagnosed a pulled tendon and oba-use. That’s Japanese for “overuse”; I shit thee not. He prescribed painkillers and an ace bandage. (Note to self: add ace bandage to medical kit.) I asked if the hospital could lend me a kuruma isu.

The doctor sucked air through his teeth. This meant what I had asked for would be very difficult. Fifteen minutes later, however, a wheelchair appeared. The seat was brown, the leather cracked and the footrests rusty, but it got me around Kurashiki—despite the cobbled streets and museums lacking elevators. I developed a fierce resentment for those unaware of the difficulties of someone in a wheelchair, trying to make her way through the narrow aisles of a crowded shop. With my cane, I poked meanly at their ankles.

... this!

“You’re being,” Cliff grinned through the beard he was tugging, “a bitch on wheels.”

A break from Kurashiki was in order. We planned a day at Korakoen, one of Japan’s “Big Three” gardens. This would require somehow taking the wheelchair on the train from Kurashiki to Okayama. Kurashiki’s main station had no elevator and no escalator, only a steep staircase and four able-bodied railroad employees. They surrounded me, a precision drill team, turned my wheelchair around and carried me, in it, down the steep stairs. Backward.

(No dramatic music) We can’t even ask questions here, so baited is our breath. Tune in next week for more Foot-less in Japan.

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