In Praise of Shadows

The most aseptic places of Japan

Japan has raised lavatory facilities to a palatable topic. Hygiene is very important here, and of course, toilets should reflect your concern. Even if you are in the wildest place of Japan, in a rush, don't worry, you will always find a clean, hygienic, welcoming toilet. If you are in crowded areas, such as highway parking lot, you might be afraid to use the lavatories. Don't. They are all pampered and shining, equipped with large mirror area (for ladies at least) where you can spend time making-up and brushing your hair while talking with your friend. True!

Usually, public toilets (occidental ones) are equipped with washlets, aseptic liquid to clean the toilet by yourself, should you have any doubt about its cleanliness, and privacy bird sound (it can also be water sound). This is the intriguing part for me. Nobody knows who you are. Nobody can see you through the partition wall. But, if you are a Japanese girl/lady/obachan, you care for the noise. After so many years in Japan, I am still ashamed of using the bird sound track... It's like an advertisement of my business in here. Well, we all know why we are using the toilets, don't we? Cannot get over it!

Then, you also find those cool public toilets with lots of useless gadget, like the ones in Tokyo station, with a digital board that informs you about the free seats... An open door is usually a sure sign to go on. But that was not enough for gadget-lovers... they needed a digital panel.

And you know what? I think it is not enough. If you go digital, you should get a more sophisticated system: you could get a special device that tells you that after, I don't know, 7 minutes 30 seconds, you are exaggerating and you should leave...
Or, we could have a member's card service, that you credit you some miles if you use the facilities within x minutes, let's say. Then, once you get enough miles, you could get a gold member service, such as, priority lane in case of emergency.

Or, you could monitor time and predict the waiting time. That could be helpful in a train station.

Size matters... and I am going to get censored on this one...

I have never visited the men's toilets and I have no idea whether you guys also have the noise feature...

But ..., my best friend, a Belgian guy, told me, that the men's toilet was quite low, according to occidental standards... So, I can't help thinking how inconvenient it must be for Japanese men to use toilets when they are traveling in Europe or Americas...

by Claire

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