has a variety of interesting and exotic toilet
s that require some getting used to. First of all, we will explore an area that most foreigners will spend a lot of time in:
If you are ever in a public place and need to know where the closest crapper is, here are some handy phrases:
Sumimasen! O-tearai wa doko desu ka?
Excuse me! Where is the washroom?
Chotto, toire wa doko ni aru no?
Um, where's the bathroom?
Oi, oi, unchi yaritai de!
Yo, I wanna take a fuckin' dump here already!
Once a friendly clerk
or terrified bystander
points you in the right direction, you will likely find that you are faced with a Japanese style
public toilet. These have been described by none other than Dave Barry
as "a hole in the ground that someone forgot to put a toilet on top of." They are shaped something like this:
___ ____ ___________
/ |_____ /____\ | | |
|__________| |____| |___|_______|
side front top
Now, the biggest potential stumbling block
might face in this situation is: where do I sit?!
The answer is: you don't. If you're female and/or need to go number two, you have to pop a squat. In the latter case, you squat down, aim your anus toward the flat uncovered part of the toilet, and apply pressure toward your sphincter until the desired amount of feces has fallen into the bowl. If you know how to shit in the woods, this shouldn't be rocket science, although it can get painful on those hamstrings.
If you're female and need to pee, you squat down, aiming your manko toward the curved bowl part of the toilet, so that the urine doesn't splatter everywhere. Some people not in the know try to pee facing the other way, and end up getting their shoes drenched, which isn't fun.
When you've finished your deed, you must flush. This can often be another source of confusion, because many toilets have a two-way flush knob, marked with these kanji:
The one on the left is the kanji for big
, while the one on the right is the kanji for small
. (As Dave would add here, I am not making this up
.) In case the euphemism
here isn't obvious, turning the lever toward "big" will generate a big, explosive flush to wash all the crap
out of the toilet, while turning the lever toward "small" will cause the toilet to enter a less violent flush cycle more suitable for your everyday pee-pee
At Somebody's House
So you're hanging out at your senpai's house, drinking can after can of Asahi Super Dry Beer and munching on wasabi nuts, when all of a sudden, you feel the colon gods calling upon you to make a pilgrimage to the Fountain of Eternal Relief.
Most modern houses in Japan have nice, Western-style commodes to sit on. However, most of these commodes are equipped with gadgetry worthy of the Space Shuttle, only a thousand times more difficult to operate because all the buttons are written in what may as well be Elvish, and pushing them at random may lead to a jet of water being shot up your rectum.
So, unless you know what you're doing, here is how to get out of the bathroom with your anal integrity intact and your turd down the drain:
- Sit on commode. You will probably trigger an automatic seat warmer and fan by doing so: do not be alarmed.
- Do business. Read a Power Japanese book, or something by James Clavell.
- When finished, look for a flush lever on the tank. Pushing any of the buttons connected to the seat will not flush the toilet. In fact, they will probably flush you.
- Once the toilet flushes, get the hell out.
If you really need to know, the basic functions are as follows:
- "O-shiri" (おしり), denoted by a single jet of water aimed at a vaguely butt-like object, will shoot a jet of water straight at your butthole.
- "Yawaraka" (やわらか), denoted by multiple jets of water aimed at aforementioned vaguely butt-like object, will run a leisurely stream of water up and down your crack.
- "Bidet" (ビデー), denoted by a pink button with a picture of a lady-like figure getting water shot up her fanny, will wash your, er, feminine regions. If you're male, pushing it will erase history as we know it.
And that's that. Many happy returns
An only slightly related but still interesting anecdote:
I was on stage at Mass one Sunday, when they were doing a speaking in tongues kind of deal and wanted a Japanese speaker to round out their linguistic team. Afterward, this elderly gentleman, who turned out to be a veteran of the Korean War and had been stationed in Tokyo, waved me over and we began talking about our Japan experiences.
He happened to ask me, "Do they still have the honey pots over there?"
"What are those?" I asked.
"Well," he said, "they didn't have sewers, so they used to load up all of their shit into barrels, and drive it down the street to throw it out. You'd get stuck behind one of those things, and it'd stink to high heaven."
My eyes bugged out slightly. "Um, no, they have sewers now."
"Hmmm," the man said, "I always wondered about that..."
tongpoo adds: "From what I've heard, there used to be a door-to-door feces buyer who'd buy and then sell it as fertilizers. This helped spread barefoot-born parasites since the feces were not pasteurized."
Velox adds to that: "My grandfather remembers being in a jeep behind a sewage truck outside Tokyo in 1946; the lieutenant driving said something on the order of 'If we hit one of those things, I hope we're killed outright and not just injured.'"