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Tuesday, January 6

Japanese Peculiarities #7

Today’s strangeness comes direct to you from the confines of my very own house. I’ve talked a little about this item when we first moved into our home over two and a half years ago, but it was only last week that I finally figured it out. The Japanese toilet.

When we moved in, our Japanese realtor provided us with a paper that had all sorts of Japanese kanji, hiragana and katakana characters that we would find around the house – on the washing machine, the dryer, the water temperature controls in the kitchen and shower, the microwave and the toilet. While it has been helpful in doing our laundry correctly, it doesn’t necessarily cover the others so well. With twelve buttons on our microwave, I still only know how to use the automatic start and automatic stop button. Sad, but I digress.

The Japanese people are truly inventive when it comes to the toilets. There are two things KH and I will be putting in our own American house someday: the large open shower room with the deep bath for lengthy soaking and the beloved toilet. The second is better than the first. If you remember pictures before, today’s home toilets are Western style and not Japanese squat-over-it-until-you-are-weak-in-the-knees style. Let me tell you all about what this little lovely can do.
It’s a sink, which the water turns on automatically after you flush. Helpful when there is no other sink in this tiny room. It’s a bidet. And not the European kind where you kind of have to squat over it. You need only sit there and push one of three buttons (depending on what area of your bum needs refreshing) to get the exact spray you are wishing for. When I was still pregnant, I must hope this is not too much information and admit that it was a godsend when you can no longer reach as you used to. There is also a button that makes water or flushing sounds so that no one will hear you as you go about your business. But the best parts are the temperature gauges. There is a temperature gauge for the bidet stream of water and for the toilet seat itself. The thing is… up until last week, we didn’t know how to turn these two things on.

When winter finally arrives here in Japan, the houses very quickly turn frigid and very dry. Heat is not central style like we are used to back home. You have to turn the individual room heaters on and then give it a half an hour until it warms up. You can’t run them tirelessly either unless you are a damn near millionaire in today’s economy. And you can be assured that there is never a wall heater in your tiny bathroom. The only thing to save you on that midnight pit-stop is the warmth of what awaits your backside. So to discover how to turn it on was a glorious occasion in the Kimono household. And it all happened by happy accident. I was sitting there with not much to do and started fiddling with the buttons that I still hadn’t figured out did what. I still can’t be sure I know exactly what I did to make it work, but there is heat! No longer will glacial seat or that frosty jet stream make us clench down in horror again. Really… you have no idea how high my level of excitement over this discovery really is.

Of course, I am worrying a bit about what happens come summer when those humid 100 degree days return. Mweh. I’ll worry about it then and simply enjoy now.


Momo-Mama said...

Hilarious! I too will be installing a Japanese style bath in my California Home, and the toilets...good grief are they complicated! I am still afraid of the bidet in my grandmothers house, everyone swears by it, but it still creeps me out!

dianeinjapan said...

Oh, yes--the deep ofuro, and the wondrous, spectacular heated toilet! It's the one saving grace in the sub-Arctic bathroom, isn't it?