Virginia McClain: Writer

Author of Blade's Edge and Rain on a Summer's Afternoon

Virginia's Pre-2011 Blog

Warm Toilet Seats

Posted on December 9, 2009 at 10:38 AM
Japan is often described as being a country where tradition and technology meet. This is certainly true, and is probably a subject worthy of a full dissertation's worth of study and writing. Yet I find that the whole thing can really be summed up by Japan's toilets.

Japan is a country wherein one can find toilets that are little more than holes in the ground that flush, and toilets that have so many bells and whistles that it would take a manual (or a good two hours of free time) to figure out exactly how they operate. And, the amazing thing is that often both of these toilets can be found in the same bathroom.

I shit you not. (Pardon the pun.)

I have been in more than one public restroom in Japan wherein the majority of the toilets are what are known as 'Japanese' toilets, which are smallish indentations in the ground that are lined with porcelain and have flushing mechanisms but which require squatting and don't encourage the cleanest bathroom floors. Yet in the same bathroom there is one stall that contains a 'Western' toilet which is so advanced technologically that I have yet to push all the buttons on it because I'm afraid they might result in an unwelcomed bikini wax. The buttons that I have tried will do the following: 1. warm the seat (and adjust the temperature of said seat), 2. wash your butt with a 'refreshing' spray (I put refreshing in quotes because I have yet to decide if this spray is actually refreshing or merely creepy), 3. wash your 'butt' from an entirely different angle (here I put butt in quotes because methinks the different angle might well be aimed at a different target entirely), 4. make a flushing sound so that people can't hear you take a crap, 5. spray a deodorizer into the air, and 6. flush the toilet. And those are just the buttons I can vaguely understand the labels on either because I happen to know the kanji, or (more likely) because they are accompanied by a fairly descriptive drawing. There are still other buttons, and I fear them.

Yet, when such toilets as these exist, I have a difficult time fathoming why anyone would choose to straddle a hole in the ground instead. Of course, in the summer time, when the bathroom is crowded and you REALLY have to pee, I agree, any hole will do. And, certainly, such holes are far more economic and probably more environmentally friendly. But, why create the technologically superior toilets at all then? Why taunt people with the warmed seat and built in bidet when there's a solid chance that they'll actually have to piss in a hole instead; ass exposed to the chill winter air, precariously balanced so as to avoid dragging their pant legs through a puddle of urine, and strangely teetering back and forth so as to ensure that they don't add to the puddle of piss they are so desperately trying to dodge? Why, Japan? Why?

Because, my friends, Japan is a country firmly rooted in tradition while still taking all of the advantages of technology. So, to remind you of that, we will taunt you with toilets that may or may not have buttons that trigger orgasms whilst all the while forcing you to (most likely) piss in a hole.

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