Monday, November 26, 2012

Toilets – a very important consideration

I will admit that I am spoiled by living in the US, where even the skankiest public bathrooms have at least running water and a toilet you can (mostly) sit down on.   Other cultures I have found do not consider this a God-given right.  Let me tell you, one of the most disheartening situations ever is when you have to use a bathroom during that time of the month and all you can find is a squat toilet.  I have been known to cry at the sight.   
And that is why I like traveling in Japan.  Not only are Japanese toilets clean, but they feature every conceivable convenience all at the touch of a button.  A little chilly in the bathroom?  Select the button to heat the seat.  Don’t want the person in the next stall to hear what you are doing?  Press the button and play a pleasant running water sound while you go about your business.  Have a bit of traveler’s diarrhea?  Why, you can wash all your bits, from the front or the back at the touch of a button.  Yes, there are public restrooms that also have squat toilets, but the stalls have little pictures on the doors so you know what you are in for in toilet options.  Some restrooms even show you a layout when you walk in so you can map your way to your preferred throne. 

The food, culture, people and landscape all have a lot going for them, but my heart is with the Japanese toilet.   I can rhapsodize about traipsing around Kyoto during the height of the Fall Leaf Viewing, or eating the freshest sushi imaginable at a tiny place in the Tsukiji fish market  (for breakfast),  or surviving rush hour in the Shibuya train station, or searching for the best Takoyaki stand on Donburi  in Osaka, but the best thing is still, and always, the toilets.

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