Hospital Festival in Front of Our House

Right across the street from our house is a mental hospital, and since we are its closest neighbors, we decided to pop across the street to their summer festival. There were more people than we expected. Half the neighborhood came along to join the families of the patients.

I had to switch into genki teacher-mode when a bunch of my kindergarten children spotted me. Fortunately, with Rikuto squirming in my arms, I was able to avoid any unwanted kanchos.

We all lined up in front of the hospital, which has its windows all barred up to keep the patients from “escaping”. The guys on the roof were setting up the fireworks for later.

Most of the patients were already in their seats and watching the evening’s festivities.

There were a few fun games to keep people entertained. Here’s the ever popular baseball pitching game.

And food and drink stalls.

Unfortunately, not all the patients were content with sitting down and watching everybody else. I was quickly greeted by one gentlemen who wouldn’t leave me alone. I couldn’t understand much of his Japanese, and he certainly couldn’t understand my responses. He was fascinated by my foreign-ness and waffled on about “igirisu-go” (“Britain” language), and whether English people could understand each other with their hearts.

Moving from stall to stall, still with Rikuto squirming in my arms, this curious patient kept following, talking, and was becoming frustrated that I couldn’t understand him. It was a shame, but both Mami and I agreed that we had no choice but to head home, just 30 minutes after arriving.

Of course, going home was no big deal since we literally live across the street. Don’t believe me? I took this photo from my office window.

I know it’s not the best of views, but until this summer, the building was hidden by trees. When they came to cut back the branches, they went a bit overboard! So, at our request, they covered their windows with blinds to stop the patients peering across the street into our living room!

Anyway, we finished the evening by watching the fireworks out the window before Rikuto fell asleep on his big pink futon.

14 comments

  1. Shane

    Well at least one of the residents was lively – the rest look like they had been well medicated for the event. Sorry to hear you had to head home early though…

  2. Mark

    A very interesting and thorough post, very well presented. I didn’t realise you lived opposite a mental hospital. I f i ever came over at least I have somewhere to stay and if Ricky ever winds you up too much you can go there into solitary confinement.
    Well done, Nick

  3. Keith

    Some of the people in the photos look more genki than Japan’s ministers of government! Wonder if they would consider going into politics.
    Nick could you pop across and ask them pleeeeease????????

  4. Honor

    Hi Nick,

    First time for me to respond to one of your posts – but this one is a must. Do you know the far side cartoons? Sounds like you’ve just added another sketch. I’m the one who always attract the weirdos sitting down next to me on the plane. Interesting post.

      • Tori

        “Having never experienced someone so weird, the Japanese mental patients gather around the foreigner.”
        I wanted to roll on the floor laughing after reading that!

        This reminds me of a flat that I lived in for awhile in Kanagawa. On the route from the flat to the train there was a mental institution of some sort. And after a bizarre incident on the train I have the feeling that some of the patients were allowed to come and go as they pleased.

        An obviously mental challenged man keep bothering a Japanese lady asking her if she was ok (with no regard for proximity). This started on the train platform and then carried on inside of the train. No one was doing anything about it so I went over there and said “She’s fine!” in Japanese and he went scurrying off to the other side of the train.

        I guess it is easier as an outsider to stand up for someone.
        Interestingly Rich Pav of HerroFlomJapan had a similar experience: http://www.herroflomjapan.com/2006/10/05/this-is-what-a-chican-looks-like/

  5. Steve in Nagoya

    I realize I’m probably boarding the Japan Bashing Express Train with this, but I have to ask, how batsh!t crazy does one actually have to be to land themselves in a looney bin here? I mean with all the nutters I see daily riding the subways and trains I figure you have to be pretty far gone to be institutionalized.

  6. Tori

    I mean with all the nutters I see daily riding the subways and trains I figure you have to be pretty far gone to be institutionalized.

    LOL!!!! That’s hilarious