A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join a bus tour to Yokohama about three hours south of where we live so we signed up. The tour was sponsored by an internationally known remodeling corporation and the whole deal was free! At 6:30 in the morning we were herded onto a huge tourist bus with about 150 other people (Three buses) and the day began. After a lovely bus trip with snacks and lunch provided, we finally arrived at our destination at around 10:00 Three major companies were having a fair of remodeling products and building innovations and we got to see the future of Japan in the remodeling world!
In honor of the day and after looking at all the new-fangled plumbing options I'm going to explain a little more about yesterday's picture. Quilting Fitzy mentioned something about the toilet Patora was sitting on so hang on to your belt, I'm telling you about toilets today. Whopee!
I spent some time in Japan when I was a college student and one of my first rememberances is when all the American foreign students gathered in a room and debated about how to use a Japanese toilet. Even in the department stores they have the semi-traditional toilets and it was a matter of looking at this thing and trying to figure out which way you faced, how you aimed (women this is a challenge) and not fall down in the process. I'm including a picture I took when I helped a school girl write a report about Japan. No, I usually don't take pictures of toilets.
Japanese have mastered the art of squatting with their heels on the ground and knees high around their necks. This is not a position that most foreigners can manage at all, not to mention for the amount of time it takes to use a toilet. I still have to grab on to walls and pipes around me so that I don't fall backwards or worse yet in! It is also very difficult to keep one's pant legs or skirt off the ground and who knows how the ladies with kimono manage it! Thankfully, there are many options besides the traditional toilet nowadays.
My own family bathroom is just this. That is the whole of the bathroom, a small area no larger than a closet. The normal American features like a sink, a bathtub, showers, mirrors etc. are all in a different room (actually two different rooms) and a toilet is completely utilitarian. There are some compensations however. If you look at the toilet tank you will see a spigot and this ingenious invention is for washing your hands! Everytime the toilet is flushed, clean water comes pouring out of this spigot and goes into the tank to be flushed down the next time. How ecologically sound! Many people decorate this little oasis with colorful stones, plastic flowers etc. I'm sorry I have no decorations to show you.
Another absolutely wonderful feature of Japanese toilets is that the seats are heated! Ladies, this is heaven! A toasty warm throne to sit on and it is even temperature adjustable. This is really nice in Japan because we don't "waste" heat by heating the whole house, just a room at a time so the bathroom in the winter is icy cold. Lovely invention the heated toilet seat!
I must admit that I am really outdated because most of my friends' toilets do fascinating things like shoot water up at you for personal cleaning (do not let a child near this button. They will inevitably want to play in the fountain.) Some bathrooms have lights that turn on automatically and the toilet lid smoothly raises when you enter the room (like an invisible butler... Anyone in here besides me?) Some toilets have lights around the tank bottom so you know where to sit in the dark. (I don't know why) Some toilets flush automatically. One feature I absolutely refuse to use is the little button that you can push that will play the sound of a toilet flushing. This is to cover up nature's true sounds. People were needlessly flushing (and using water) so the toilet people put in this fake flushing sound. This seems to be a big feature in the newer schools in Japan too. Kids too embarrassed to go because they can be heard in the next stall! Good grief!
At yesterday's fair we saw many examples of the toilets of tomorrow. Some that adjust in height depending on the person using it, others that push you to a standing position when you're finished. Some toilet rooms were enhanced with a TV and a touch tone internet screen so that you can do your business while you do your business.
Ah... I wonder if I want to live long enough to see the new toilet wonders in my own house!
I hope to have a more refined topic for tomorrow's post.