The first installment of my “Japan is weird, sort of” posts. As a reminder, these are things I used to find weird, but actually really like, now that I’ve lived here for 17 years.
Twenty five years ago, I saw my first squat toilet. It was a big deal, even a traumatic experience. But I honestly hadn’t thought about in in a decade. Today, in “Japan is Weird”, I think about the bathroom. Ok, yes, I should probably prioritize better, but if you are reading this, then so should you 🙂
I saw my first toilet slippers, also a big deal. You don’t wear shoes in the house, so you wear slippers. But you change your slippers when in the toilet. I could have ranted about this for hours twenty five years ago. Not so anymore; it just is. It’s a common thing to laugh at foreigners who forget to take off the toilet slipper when they go back into the house, restaurant, or other public place (followed by a lot of floor cleaning).
These days there is the high tech toilet, with the warmed seat and shower bidet with water temperature controls. This, too, is a weirdness that you just don’t see in the rest of the world. But, I tell ya, they are kinda nice in the winter, once you get over the feeling that someone else was just sitting here… for a long time… cause it’s soooo warm. And when you flush, the water that replenishes the tank flows into a little sink atop the toilet. So you wash your hands and the wash water gets used for the next flush. This is really clever.
Water Closet vs. Bathing Room
Except in efficiency apartments, toilets are separate from showers and tubs. Interestingly, nowadays western showers and tubs seem strange. They seem so… primitive. The showers in the states are practical. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. But you can’t sit in a western tub for long. The water goes tepid, and it only covers your legs. I love my Japanese soaking bath. Its like a jacuzzi (no jets, but depth and heat-wise) in the corner of my apartment. I can set the temperature of the water, and it stays that temperature at all times. It is a real luxury.
Squat Toilet image thanks to “How to Use the Japanese-style toilet” by Yuya Tamai – Flickr: how to use the japanese-style toilet. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:How_to_Use_the_Japanese-style_toilet.jpg#/media/File:How_to_Use_the_Japanese-style_toilet.jpg
Slipper image thanks to http://mypoppet.com.au