Japanese Onesen DANGER OF DEATH From Brain Parasite
With a recent gas explosion in Tokyo in the news, old memories stirred to life, and I surfaced something I found out long ago but had forgotten about: taking a dip in a Japanese hot spring can kill you stone dead.
The backstory is that, years ago, I stayed at a motel in Rotorua, the center of New Zealand's geothermal tourism, and the pool had a notice warning you not to put your head under water.
I told my wife the message should have been a lot stronger than it was, and should have warned you that if you put your head under the water you may end up getting killed.
Most or all New Zealanders know that putting your head underwater in any hot pool fed by a natural water source is a no-no. The reason is that an amoeba lives in the soil and can get washed into the hot water.
The amoeba swims in through your ear, and it can quite possibly kill you.
Most pools in the Rotorua area use natural sources of hot water and so pose a health hazard.
It is possible to get around this by using a heat exchanger, so geothermal water exchanges its heat to nice clean water from the town water supply, and this is the approach taking by the major thermal baths at Waiwera, north of Auckland. They don't post amoeba warning signs because, thanks to the use of heat exchangers, swimmers are not exposed to any such danger.
My wife didn't seem to take my amoeba warning seriously, but in my lifetime there have been cases of people being killed in New Zealand by these amoebas.
Much later, I learnt that amoebas are also sometimes found in the water of the Japanese hot spring baths known as onsen.
On Saturday 23 June I went online to check my recollections, and arrived at a Wikipedia site for onsen.
The Wikipedia page I went to is this:
Here there are all the details, including this:
"Unfortunately, hot springs can create ideal conditions to spread infections. For example:
"* Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba, lives in warm waters and soils worldwide and can be a cause of meningitis. Several deaths have been attributed to this amoeba, which enters the brain through the nasal passages."
Note that the Wikipedia entry says that there are dangerous amoebas "worldwide." When I was growing up in New Zealand, amoebas were sometimes in the news, but the impression I always got were that they were unique New Zealand amoebas, and that nobody else was lucky enough to have them.
If you read the Wikipedia page in full you'll find that amoebas are not the only health hazards you have to contend with.
To finish up with, on a totally different subject, here are a couple of urls I went to recently with three-year-old daughter Cornucopia:
Both are free of ads but you will need broadband. Both are within the conceptual range of a three-year-old, but a child that young will need the help of an adult with the mousing around.
For the glass slippers story, which comes complete with sound and animation, you have to help a dancer get to a castle in Austria. At one point you have to make the robot ship she is traveling in move down a mountain, but all you have to do is click any key on the keyboard to get the robot moving in the right direction.
Later, you have to listen to music and choose the right gate, out of three, to enter. And, later still, you can choose one of three outfits for the dancer to wear.
The counting game is pretty well done.
You choose EASY or MEDIUM then see a pane divided into four windows, each window with a number of dots. The voiceover invites you to choose, for example, the one with three dots. If you click the right one, the dot is scrubbed away and you see part of a picture. Once all four dots are done, you see a Disney character such as Goofy or Pluto doing something.
I became aware of children's play sites because I heard my wife and daughter talking in my wife's personal room about Yanchu, who is a puppet tiger that daughter Cornucopia watches on TV. Obviously wife and daughter were online at some site featuring Yanchu.
Later, I accompanied Cornucopia into a neighbor's house after she got herself invited in to play with a four-year-old boy, and I saw one of the adults access a Japanese website suitable for young kids.
And almost immediately afterwards, I read an article about child-safe play sites in the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE. Apparently they're really big business now, most of them supported by advertising.
Up until now, all Cornucopia has done while hammering away at my ThinkPad's keyboard is to click around pictures that I have on the hard disk (hit the space bar and you get to another picture) or input imaginative gibberish into an OpenOffice document. But, with the playsites, we have more opportunities available to us.