If you’d like to remain under the illusion that women (especially Japanese women) don’t pee, poop, or fart, stop reading.
Japanese women are very beautiful and modest creatures. In fact, even in the most private of places, they are still worried about being embarrassed. They would like to keep their softness and delicacy at the forefront of everyone’s minds no matter where they are, even if this means squatting over the toilet…
Many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought of being heard while they’re peeing, or dooing what you do0 on a toilet (see what I did there?). Yup, that’s right folks! What else would you possibly be doing in the women’s restroom!? I dunno either, but Japanese women would like to keep the sound a mystery. Have no fear you lovely ladies, the Toilet Princess comes to grant your wishes!
ACT I SCENE1
Set in a public school bathroom, in 2010 northern Japan. TORI is walking into a teacher bathroom for the very first time and has four stalls to choose from. She is walking into the first stall on the left and looking down in horror.
TORI: What the hell is that?
Looking at what appears to be a urinal.
TORI: (shocked, eyes widening in surprise) Did I go into the men’s bathroom?
TORI leaves the restroom to check the outside of the door to make sure she didn’t make a mistake. After checking, TORI reenters the room and walks into the stall she was in previously.
TORI: (staring in disbelief) So, this is what they were talking about. The squatter toilets… Welp, time to pull down those pants and do your best.
Before I get to the toilet princess, I just wanted to share my shock of discovering these squatter toilets, and bathrooms in general. I meant to post this like, the first week I was in japan, but a long forgotten ‘draft’ lay dormant in my blog line until now. Better late than never, right?
I remember hearing about them briefly, but so far in my life have never ever ever experienced them for real. They really, look like they should be on the side of the wall to me. Not only that, but I had been told by many people that most of the bathrooms in present day Japan are equipped with these super nice fancy toilets with a seat warmer and butt blaster AKA bidet (I’ll get into that later). Psht. You dirty little liars. More often than not, here in Aomori, the bathrooms rarely have Western style toilets. When I heard Kyle complaining about being forced to use those when dropping a deuce in a public restroom, I just shook my head in mock pity. Really? You’ll wait to go HOME cuz you don’t want to have to use the squatter!? I wish I had the option of normalcy in public bathrooms. But alas, I don’ always have that luxury.
The problem with these squatters is training your American bodies to accept the fate of the squatter toilet. If you are a woman, you must learn the ways of the squatter. How do you use one with out dribbling on the floor? How do you even properly squat? Should my ankles be under my butt? Should my shoes almost touch the porcelain? How close is too close? How FAR IS TOO FAR? Oh my GOD, what if I have to go number 2 and I am too far back!? Why is there no wall handholds? Do I grab the silver handle of the flusher!? How high do I hike up my skirt? What if it falls into the water!? WHAT DO I DO!?
Needless to say, we’ll all eventually figure it out.
ACT I SCENE 2
Set in the same public school bathroom, in 2010 nothern Japan. TORI is still figuring out the squatter toilet.
Enter RANDOM SENSEI.
RANDOM SENSEI: (Coughs and fiddles with toilet paper roll for a really long time making lots of noise. Flushes toilet.)
TORI: That was fast.
Flushing stops and immediately starts again.
TORI: Wait, what? Flushing twice? In like 30 seconds?
Flushing stops and immediately starts again. Dumbfounded and suspicious, TORI waits to hear if another flushing occurs. Flushing stops, toilet paper roll is fiddled with, flushing starts again. The door adjacent to TORI opens then closes.
RANDOM SENSEI: (Coughs loudly four times)
Exit RANDOM SENSEI. TORI finishes, washing her hands. She is staring at her own perplexed expression in the mirror, then exits the restroom.
I know what you’re thinking…
But WHY tho!? Right? Me too… Later I came to find out that it was to protect the women from being embarrassed about letting someone else in the bathroom here them tinkle… OK, protect yourself from the embarrassment of being heard doing what everyone else is doing in that exact same place, while wasting huge amounts of water? TOTALLY logical:) Apparently Japan tried to do some educating about the water waste in the 80’s and introduced a lovely device to help stop the practice of multiple flushing. But, before I get to that, let me tell you something else that happens in most bathrooms after flushing… You get to immediately wash your hands in a basin attached to the top of the toilet! hooray.
While I’m positive this concept is totally cool for Japanese people, aaaaand that this is NOT the same water that was just used to flush the toilet with… I mean, let’s be real, there is SO LITTLE amount of water in the toilet bowl to begin with compared to American toilets, there’s no way it could be the same water (side note: this lack of water also makes for a much stinkier toilet time if you know what I’m sayin’) It’s still really strange to me. There’s something about water being pumped at the exact same time, one for washing down waste your body just rejected, and the other for cleansing your beautiful hands, that just seems wrong on so many levels and I’m still not used to it at all. I do, however use it as often as I can to make up for all the flushes other women make to avoid embarrassment, by washing my hands in that water destined for the next flush… but it doesn’t make it any less weird to my brain.
ACT 2 SCENE1
Set in a very swanky restaurant, ‘Super Fancy Welcome Party Place’, in 2010 northern Japan. TORI is sitting next to a coworker chatting about her home country. She is removing the napkin from her lap as she begins to stand up.
JOKESTER SENSEI: Where are you going TORI?
TORI: I am going to the bathroom really quick?
JOKESTER SENSEI: Do you need someone to go with you? Can you find it? Japanese toilets can be tricky.
TORI: Umm… no, thanks I’m OK. I already know they are kinda weird, and I really doubt they can get much weirder.
TORI gets up from her chair. She is walking towards the cedar sliding doors leading into the women’s restroom. TORI is sliding the door open, and is looking around at which stall to choose. TORI is walking into the first stall on the right and sees that it’s a normal western style toilet, and starts closing the door behind her.
TOILET: (A woman’s soft voice) Chotto matte kudasai. – Translation: Just a moment please.
TOILET’s closed lid slowly opens. Bird sounds and a babbling brook begin to emit from a small speaker next to the toilet. TORI’s eyes widen as she undoes her pants to sit on the toilet. Birds and brook continue as TORI goes about her business. TORI stares at the small speaker box next to the toilet.
TORI: This seat… is so warm… I… This is unreal.
TORI finishes her business and stands up to fasten her pants.
TOILET: (Closing her lid) Otsukaresama deshita. Translation – Take care.
TORI: Ummm… OK.
TORI Exits the bathroom.
So at the time, I didn’t have a camera with me to take a picture. So, I’ve provided the CLOSEST toilet I could find to the one that they had. The black sensor is visible when the lid is closed as well, and can tell when you come into the stall. The toilet I sat my little bum on was lit up all pretty like this one too. While my experience was strange, the nice mood lighting allowed me to relax and go about my business while providing a seat to warm my cheeks. It was actually pretty good toilet time that has yet to be replicated.
ACT 3 SCENE1
Set in a public bathroom, Some Cute Cafe, in present time downtown Hirosaki. TORI is finishing her business on the toilet and stands up to fasten her pants. TORI stares at the toilet, looking for a handle for flushing. A handle cannot be found. TORI continues to stare at the toilet.
This is what I saw. If you noticed on the previous toilet, there was an armrest that looked much like this one. On that armrest thing are these buttons. THIS one is one of the simpler versions of the arm rest. Now remember, I have NEVER IN MY LIFE seen another toilet besides the very simple western ones. Frigid toilet seat with ONE handle to flush and water that splashes back up at you when you do. To see this… well, that was just a crazy experience. These modern Japanese toilets give you the options of, as Wikipedia puts it: “anus washing, bidet washing, seat warming, and deodorization.” None of which, are the flushing handle.
I was able to find a picture of one of the more complicated ones from another blogger’s bliggity blog. If you’re wondering how the butt cleaner works, and why you would need to adjust the ‘jet strength’ here are a few pics to illustrate. (Once again, I had to borrow these two from an advertisement and one from Wikipedia because it was just a perfect illustration:
Look at that lil guy! Pokin’ his little head out of the toilet seat for a good ol’ fashion butt washing. That looks so refreshing, gentle, and…
Oh my dear God never mind!
Luckily for me, I was able to search hard enough to find the flusher handle thingy. It was actually a cleverly disguised button on TOP of the water tank. It just so happened to be the exact same color as the rest of the toilet itself, but left me feeling stupid for not seeing it before. I think of it more as a win/win though, because you better believe I played with all the buttons on that God forsaken arm rest.
Which brings me to my original point. The Toilet Princess. Actually, technically it’s the “Sound Princess” but I think Toilet Princess was just more fitting. Remember how I was saying that in the 80’s Japan tried to educate their women on the waste of water, and created that device to hide the sound of women tinkling? Well, with women wasting flushes and feeling shamed over the sound of their own pee hitting the toilet water, came the creation of the “Sound Princess” AKA “Otohime”. Otohime basically emits a sound of the toilet flushing without the need for wasting water! TA-DA!! In the case of the very fancy, automatic flushing, otsukaresamaing, butt warming, talking toilets, sometimes you might get the chance to hear the beautiful sounds of birds and brooks instead of your droplets of pee. In most cases however, you just get the sound of flushing water… Some of the little machines have a motion sensor and some do not. What’s even crazier!? I never used to care about my own pee or other things hitting the water… but now… it’s like Japan has given me this complex. So now when I get a stall without a Sound Princess, I wait to make sure no one else is in the bathroom with me. What will they think of me!? Well, without any further ado, I went into stealth mode, and filmed a short clip of the Sound Princess just for you. Please enjoy: