There's nothing quite like hay fever season in Japan to remind me how much I take normal breathing for granted during the rest of the year.

As I get well acquainted with my fourth box of Kleenex between cups of what I assume to be ginger tea (olfactory senses not helping much), I numbly entertain a daydream of what it would sound like if I actually got off the couch and visited my local clinic.

"Doc," I'd say, "this pollen is just killing me. My lips are all gasa-gasa (dry), I've got a kind of piri-piri (stinging), muzu-muzu (scratchy) feeling in my throat, and don't even get me started on how zuki-zuki (throbbing) my eyes feel. This whole ordeal has got my head all moya-moya (foggy) ... is there anything you can give me that'll clear things up — without the fura-fura (dizzy) side effects?"