I got back from Japan this week. We flew from Tokyo to Toronto on Tuesday, and then from Toronto to Michigan on Wednesday morning. The overnight layover wasn't our prime choice, but it turned out to be a fortunate one because our first flight was delayed five hours! So the overnight layover was a good thing. We had a bit more time to adjust to the time change, as well as the culture change.
After three weeks in a fast-paced, crowded society, we were immediately struck by the open spaces much more common here. Houses have yards. The streets are wide enough for cars to pass without fear of losing a side mirror. And rooms in houses are much, much larger.
I am now able to get places in the comfort of my own air-conditioned car, rather than walking, riding a bike, getting on a bus or train, or a combination of the four. I can throw a week's worth of dirty clothes in my washing machine and dryer, rather than washing every morning and hanging clothes outside to dry. And I can store several days' food in my nice big refrigerator, rather than going out daily to buy groceries.
In general, life here tends to be much more convenient. Does that make it better? Not necessarily. According to the World Health Organization, Japan has an obesity rate of less than five percent. Lifestyle has much to do with this. Since I don't have to work at hard as my cousins, I don't work off as much of the food I eat. And since the food I eat isn't as fresh and healthy as their diet, I am a lot bigger than they are.
So what do I do? Do I just shrug and continue my sedentary lifestyle, while commiserating with my overworked Japanese counterparts? Do I begin a stringent diet and exercise regimen in an effort to align myself with the more slender members of my family?
I'm thinking a compromise between the two would be best for me. My doctor keeps telling me I need to exercise more. And it would be nice to wear clothing a size or two smaller. I lost twenty pounds earlier this year, so maybe it's time I lost another twenty. Or forty.
Sigh. Maybe I should ponder this dilemma over a bagel and a cup of cappuccino.