And here we go again.. HAKUCHON*!

As the days lengthen and signs of spring start showing themselves in the form of the odd flower bud here, and the less lovely occasional mosquito there, it’s also time for that bane of millions of Japanese – kafunshou or “hay fever”.

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Simply put kafunsho (kafun=pollen, sho=disease/ailment) refers to the apparently bountiful cedar pollen floating about, triggering allergic reactions in roughly 20% of the Japanese population.  I have less than joyously joined the ranks of the sufferers.

I’m not sure exactly why or when I started suffering from an allergic reaction to pollen (heck, I’m not even sure if it is pollen-related!), but I do know that I seriously started feeling it about 2 years back and  it’s gotten progressively worse since.  In my case, it’s characterized by itchiness/wateriness in the eyes throughout the day, random and agressive bursts of sneezing, and overall miserableness.  Last year was the worst period to date (I would wake up in the morning with eyes watering furiously and the whites of my eyes completely red), but though I had a blood test in an effort to isolate whatever was triggering my allergic reactions, nothing in particular came up save a small reaction to house dust mites – apparently I had no reaction to sugi (Japanese cedar, traditionally blamed for the majority of allergic reactions in Japan).  This makes no sense because if this were purely due to house dust, then I would suffer all year-round.  My theory at the moment is that somehow cedar pollen combines with house dust, transforming into a super powerful mutant allergen whose sole purpose is to make Jeff feel wretched.

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There are plenty of items available on the Japanese market for sufferers, primarily face masks and medicines.  However, a) I’m not fond of drugs and avoid them whenever I can, and b) masks are an especial PITA to wear if one has glasses.  Though there are some masks that are supposedly made especially for glasses wearers, another factor is that my nose constantly runs (thanks to all the sneezing) and there’s no point wearing a mask if I’ll be constantly be taking it off to blow my nose. (apologies for any gross imagery)

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Last year I started taking flaxseed oil and that did seem to ease the symptoms quite a bit.  The primary downside to taking them is that they are huge honking capsules – and recommended dosage is 3 capsules 3 times daily!  However, I’ve already started taking them, and we’ll see how it goes – so far at least my eyes are watering less, but then again, the kafunshou season has just started…

Mom has also mentioned that she will be sending some eyebright – I’ll try taking that in conjunction with the flaxseed oil and see how it goes.

At the moment, I’m fighting a double battle with a full-blown head cold as well as the onset of kafunshou season and I’m definitely not at my best… thank goodness tomorrow is a holiday…


 * “Hakuchon” or “Hakushon” is apparently the onomatopoeic word for a sneeze in Japanese (ie, the equivalent of “achoo!” in English)

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