By Ewa Nowogorski
Everyone gets sick, and each family has their own special remedies and rituals for coughs, colds, fevers, and sore throats. There do tend to be distinct patterns within certain cultures, and the way Americans handle their sicknesses is slightly different from the way Japanese people handle their sicknesses.
One big distinction is what people eat when they are sick. With Japanese people, a simple type of rice porridge is the main way to go. One will boil rice with extra water until the rice grains literally dissolve and become mush. This may be lightly seasoned with salt. In America, people tend to eat chicken soup, which has boiled chicken, carrots, and pasta noodles, and usually a lot of salt.
A similarity that sick people in both countries share is the type of drink, although exact brands end up being different. In Japan, sick people usually drink something called Pocari Sweat, a slightly salty drink packed with electrolytes. Americans, on the other hand, might drink gatorade or vitamin water, similar drinks that also have added electrolytes.
Ginger lemon tea is also another drink Japanese people will drink when they are sick. Americans also have the same line of thinking. GInger tea and fluids with vitamin C, ginseng, and honey are considered essential for quick recoveries.
There is the old comical belief that if you put a leek up your butt when you have a fever in Japan, it will help lower your fever. While inserting things up there seems like a silly (and scary) idea to Americans, it supposedly really works, and suppositories are actually not uncommon in Japan.