Being in a place like Japan makes everything an experience. A wonderful experience. But a toilet is just a toilet, full stop. How different could it be? In Japan, the land where everything seems to be possible, using a toilet can also become a new adventure.
When you go to a toilet in Japan, you have two options: The first is the typical Asian style toilet or “squat” toilet”. This is, in very basic terms, a hole in the floor where everything goes to never be seen again. Pretty much like a mini black hole, but without the hazards of being sucked into it. This is the old toilet style, and while you can still find it today across Japan, it is by no means the main style of toilets. Your second option is a western style toilet seat. With a Japanese touch, of course.
So there you are, just arrived to Japan and feeling the call of nature. You head to the WC (don’t worry on how to find it, it’s always pretty well signaled in English too), get in and seat. In the rush you did not care but five seconds later you start looking around you, and see what it looks like a sort of airplane’s command panel next to you. Images of those animes where human pilots control gigantic robots touching many buttons (Robotech, anyone?) comes to your mind, and start wondering if you are in the right place (Although it would be pretty cool to ride one of those robots, such a pilot seat would be awkward, at least). Fear not, you have not arrived to any weird place. Welcome to the Japanese toilets!
We could write a detailed guide on what each of those buttons do, but wouldn’t be much more fun to discover it by yourself? Yes, that’s right, you will have to test each one of them, and see (or feel) by yourself. Among the most common functions you will find built-in air deodorizer, seat heating (with adjustable temperature), automatic lid opening and closing (by proximity sensors), and something called “Otohime” (literally, “sound-princess”): A built-in device that plays a recorded water-flushing sound in order to cover the possible body sounds of the toilet user (Yes, you read it right!).
You will find some help in the pictograms drawn in some of the buttons, and if you are lucky enough, you can even find a legend in English, but the pictograms should be self-explanatory in most of cases… And if not, well, touch it and you will find out: that’s part of the adventure of being in the amazing Japan!
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