Sunday, December 14, 2008

My nemesis

I'm not going into gross detail here, but if you think the subject is going to be TMI click away... now. Or, you know, don't and judge for yourself if it is or not, but then it will too late!

The toilets in Japan can be amazing. They are Western style, heated seats, washing, music playing, fake flush to cover noise sounding, air deodorizing, all singing, all dancing units.

But sometimes, it all goes wrong.

I've mentioned Japanese squat toilets before, insofar as to say how much as I hate them, and oh, how I loath them.

Behold, a typical Japanese squat toilet:

My school contains only squat style toilets. Usually when you go out there is a choice of at least one western style. I used to wait until I got home (many a peepee dance being done as I unlock my door) because the school loos? Never a pleasant visit.

It starts with the freezing temperature. My school has managed the somewhat dubious achievement of being noticeably colder inside than out. If I'm going to be spending the day outside of one of the busy rooms I take extra layers to wear inside, and/or a lap blanket. The toilets are no exception, and are in fact even colder owing to the window always being left open to help air out the place (regardless of the layer of frost outside a few days ago).

The next step is the stupid, hateful toilet slippers. When you go into a toilet in Japan there is usually a pair of slippers outside, you have to change into them before you go in. My school decided the rubbery slip on slippers were too welcoming and opted for the traditional hard wearing wooden sandals.

After you've changed your shoes you do the slip and slide over to the cubical of your choice (the floor is usually wet from when the students mop it after lunch). The cubical is very small, not ideal for someone of my, er, dimensions. I usually take my trousers completely off rather than play the roulette of keeping them out of my way. You have to do a deep squat facing the hood, getting as close to it as you can.

This is one of my bigger problems. If you're in position then you've literally got your knees to your chest, it's a deep squat, because you're crowding the hood for balance and to ensure the hole doesn't come up short, because that would be an embarrassing accident to explain (*fingers crossed* hasn't happened yet). If you're having kind of digestive issue that results in you being there for more than a few moments your legs go stiff, making getting up a problem. An problem not helped by the fact that one of your wooden sandals is sliding further away from you on the wet floor surface as you're trying to keep your balance and you can't stop it. If you fall on the way down, you will just go backwards, straight into the toilet.

Squatters: Good for the leg muscles, not so much for the dignity.

Sometimes it's hard being me.


jen said...

Can't help it but this made me laugh. I began thinking about how I would ever make it through the day if this was my only choice for toilets. I am a teacher and sometimes have to run down the steps when the bell rings. Your toilet looks like it would kill me. Thank you for sharing your toilet ~ I always wonder about these things but no one ever really talks about it.

Kathryn said...

OMG my first thought is how do you use that without slipping over/in.

I've used a squat toilet in a backpackers in Cambodia - emergency only choice - but that had a place to put your feet that was nonslip at least. It is supposed to be a lot better for your innards than Western toilets though.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That is horrible. I had a situation like that when I went to Italy. I had never seen such a thing and was completely bewildered.

What the hell is the point of such a toilet??

SeaShore said...

That is just unreal. I am here with my jaw on the floor. It looks so awkward! I'd be doing the dance at the door at home, too!

Unknown said...

The point of these are for health reasons. Hemorrhoids are only found in the "west" where western style toilets are used.