There’s definitely one benefit to being a foreigner (or geijin) in Japan and that’s the fact that most people are willing to overlook your foreign ways. One of the difficulties I’m having – aside from being confused beyond belief by the public transit system and have no idea what most people are saying (thankfully, I have a translator with me each day!) – is that I’m a huge clutz. Japanese women are graceful. I… am not. I’m either knocking things over, getting my camera bag caught around door handles, or running into objects. Needless to say, I say sumimasen (excuse me) a thousand times.
With that said, let me tell you about Japanese toilets. You may have heard about them, or seen pictures of them. If not, go check out this picture. While I haven’t used any of the fancy extras (including a fake flushing noise for, ummm, privacy) I have to admit that I think all toilets should have seat warmers.
Ok, so that’s the cool, funky toilets. What most people don’t talk about are traditional Japanese toilets. I had heard of them, but did a double take when I walked into a restroom and discovered them. There’s no way I can describe it, so here’s another picture (gotta love Google images).
So here’s the awkward foreigner going down the hallway to locate the restroom at a restaurant of the National Museum and when I first walk in I think to myself, “Huh, I thought all of the traditional toilets were at ground level. And it’s funny that they’re out in the open like that. All of the one’s I’ve seen have been in stalls.” As I start to walk into a stall with one of the new toilets, it hits me. I’m in the men’s restroom and those are traditional toilets, they’re urinals. Ack! Thankfully, I managed to escape and get into the womens’s restroom (which did have both the traditional and new toilets – and me with no camera once again) without being seen.