Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holding it back

I've lived in Japan for exactly two months.

From the beginning, the adjustment to my Japanese life has been smooth. Now I'm completely used to hearing and seeing Japanese everywhere. I've grown accustomed to driving on the left side of the road. And I don't have problems with the food (for the most part, anyway).

But there's one thing I just can NOT get used to.

The toilets.

I don't think they can even be called toilets, really. "Hole in the floor" is a more appropriate name. When you think about the word "toilet," I imagine that the image of a porcelain chair comes to mind. This is what I've always thought a toilet to be

But now I know that not all toilets are created equal. The image that you have is actually a Western-style toilet. Now let me show you an actual image of a Japanese-style toilet:

I despise this hole that I must squat over. As a female, I feel that it's downright unnatural for me to aim when I'm doing my business.

Unfortunately, there are no Western-style toilets at the office, and three of the four middle schools where I teach don't have one either. So unless I absolutely, desperately have to use the bathroom, I will hold it until I get to my apartment for lunch break.

If I've been holding it back, it's such a beautiful sight to see my Western-style toilet when I run through my front door, I almost burst. (and not just with joy!)

Believe it or not, my apartment toilet even has a seat heater! So it's a special kind of special. I will probably be using that a lot in the winter. Who knows, I might just live in the bathroom and write blog posts from the nice warm seat of my toilet. Ha!

There it is. The toilet in my apartment. What a beauty!

So living in Kuji has made me realize that I've taken Western-style toilets for granted my whole life. I have a new appreciation for flushable toilets with seats. So much of a new appreciation that I decided to do a little research on the subject, to see who I owe my graditute for coming up with the idea of a chair-like toilet.

I discovered that John Harrington is the inventor of the first flushable toilet. I know because I just looked this up in the office, careful not to let anyone see the pictures of toilets that came up on my computer! After all, that might make me flush...err, I mean blush!

To be fair, there are actually several other men involved in the history of the toilet who must share the credit for what a Western-style toilet is today. As an article from Plumbing and Mechanical (my favorite magazine, haha) says, "By the turn of the century, water closet innovations were occurring on a nearly daily basis." Fascinating.

You know, since I've occasionally had no other option but to stoop to the hole toilets (literally) for the past two months, I've been meaning to write about this subject for a while now.

But I've been holding it back. Only appropriate, huh?


Lauren said...

That is so funny that the toilets have seat heaters that must be nice! Maybe here pretty soon you will be able to get use to the "hole in the ground." Good luck with that!
Love ya!

Dawn said...

I'm sure you are grateful for your nice western style toilet in your apartment - sounds neat that it has a seat warmer. I never could get used to having to stoop over a hole in the ground toilet - LOL. Good luck with it all.

Derek S. said...

So are there daily police reports of lost children, falling into the unknown abyss? I'm sure there have been a few 'curious' little boys who have felt the need to explore...hopefully not! Oh well, I guess it's not too big of a deal for me...considering I have had to dig my own toilet while backpacking (won't go into details on how to do the rest, but I am sure it's similar to your method). By the way...how do you flush the hole? :P

EJFQZ said...

Jim and I actually know something about this subject. And, we have always given Thomas Crapper the credit for this invention. I'm not kidding! But apparently..he in not the original inventor. We learned something....

The Princess said...

I'm kinda surprised that the toilets look like that in Japan. I have used one of those when I went to China, and I'm pretty sure you can flush the "hole" right? I'm sorry that you got to "hold it back"....that must be awful!

Wendy City said...

We have those toilets here! Luckily, there is an option to use a "regular" toilet and the hole in the floor. :)

The worst toilet I've ever used was a public one in Egypt. Literally just a hole in the ground. At least there was a bidet...ahem...I mean..a hose. :D

This post made me laugh - keep it up!