Yesterday, I got mail! Well, actually – as our doorbell does not work – there was a notice in the letterbox that I had received a registered letter in my absence. I could not really make out the sender – too many Kanji in a row – but it started with “Kyoto City…”

I have been a foreign resident in many countries and receiving unsolicited mail from any government related source (especially if registered) very quickly produces a very specific thing: A knot in my stomach. The first thing I did was checking my visa: No, expiration date is still some time in May next year, so this was unlikely to be the issue. I relaxed a little and took some time to look up all the Kanji and the sender appeared to be my health insurance. Okay okay, yes, I was indeed 4 days late with my last payment, but there is really no need to get that personal and registered within less than a week…

letter from my health insuranceWhen I finally picked up the letter from the post office in the evening, all my stomach troubles turned out to have been for nothing: I simply received – like all the other Japanese – a new health insurance card. It seems that you are issued a new card every year by the end of November. The new one is green-ish, but besides the colour nothing has changed.

On the back of the card there is a little form on which you can indicate whether you’d like to be an organ donor, and under which circumstances. The default state is NO, but you can also agree to your organs being harvested in case of cardiac arrest or in case of brain death + cardiac arrest. I like this idea of doing it; it is very straightforward and easy to do, and the nicest thing about it is that you can change your mind every year. Apparently, not many Japanese allow their organs to be taken, which is a pity. I don’t care what happens to any leftovers once I’m dead, so I said YES.