I have been trying to start this Blog since we first got to Tokyo and kept putting it off and kept putting it off until it got the the point that I don't feel like writing about 3 weeks ago! If you want to know about our trip to Tokyo or any of our first weeks here in Misawa just ask:-) So then I thought, naturally, that the best thing to start with would be the toilet.
As you may or may not know I could discuss ad nauseam many things related to the bathroom. Weather you are modest or one of those people that brag about your daily constitutionals you will find a toilet to suite you over here in Japan. The range in types of toilets really do symbolize what Japan is all about; from space age technology modern to a hole in the ground simple structure. I have never seen any thing like some of these things. They are no longer a mere bathroom fixture but an appliance that requires either a very well working knowledge of the language or a mighty courageous American to push some of the buttons on these machines without knowing what might happen to, well, your bum.
I was first introduced to the two different and most common types of toilets when we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo. There were two rows of stales and the first one I approached was the home to the more Eastern style of toilet; a basin in the floor with a pole positioned in front of it for balance. I of course knew to expect these, it is not at all uncommon in other Countries. I understand that most Woman hover to begin with in public restrooms so the concept is not too hard to grasp but why someone would prefer this method to the standard John (or is it Jon)? I was relived (pun intended) when I found the second row of stales to be the home to the more common above ground toilet.
As we traveled through Tokyo I noticed that most of the public toilets were above ground. It is from here that they get fancy. The toilet in the lobby of our hotel had not one but two control panels of features and was by far the fanciest. There were the two obvious bidet buttons; a rounded Roman 'W' with a blue background serves as the picture for a male and a triangle with a circle on top and a pink background is for the ladies. Hovering was not necessary in this establishment. If for some reason the fastidious employees failed to maintain the pristine condition there is a button you can push that produces a small amount of toilet seat sanitizer. After you are comfortable with the level of cleanliness and take a seat be prepared to ponder the possibilities that await you. A motion sensor welcomes your presence with the running of a motor, just letting you know that if you choose the bidet after all is said and done that the water will be warmed to the perfect temperature. Seat too cold? It will be warmed in seconds with the push of a button. Have a feeling that the 'camo-cough' will not suffice in covering the gastric symphony that might follow? There is a faux flush button that plays the flushing sound for a good 30 to 40 seconds. How about that for hospitality? On top of everything else there is a button that when pushed sends an extra burst of air freshener into the bowl. No one need ever know that last nights adventure in squid did not agree with you. And just when you think it can't get any better you see there is an option to be dried by fan if the old standard of air drying feels a bit beneath you after that experience.
I never went beyond the seat sanitizer. I did, however, try to push the bidet button once I was safely standing just to see what happens but the toilet could not be fooled. I did not get a chance to take a picture of that particular toilet but here is one from the Shimoda Mall right outside of Misawa.
I have been pretty lucky when it comes to finding the Cadillac of Commodes. Only once was I forced to suck it up and squat over the dreaded and filthy basin. It was two weekends ago when we drove up the Eastern Coast and stopped at a rest area. It was horrible. The pole placed in front can be your best friend, but as is true with some friends you find yourself abandoned on occasion not knowing what to do without them. This was true for me on this Sunday afternoon. One pregnant lady plus one rest area toilet minus one pole equals horror. Having never used one of these before I told myself to suck it up, it's not rocket science it's peeing. But I soon realized that the pole indicates what direction you should face when squatting. Squat the wrong way and the pee hits the basin at an angel codusive to splashing. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had it all wrong and correct my mistake. Gross? Yes. But I was clearly not the first Lady to make this mistake judging by the condition of the floor under my shaking feet and legs. Hovering sans pole while pregnant is not fun at all. That was the last time I used a hole in the ground. If I find myself in the same situation in the future I hope to be better but certainly will not willingly practice.
I will spare you the picture of that particular toilet but will share this example I took at another stop along our journey that weekend. It was a kinder establishment with the above and below ground option.
This last weekend we decided to take the train into a little town south west of us called Nikko. It was a great time, I have some wonderful pictures of the nature and wild life but it does not seem fitting for this classy post. However when we arrived in the parking deck of the train station that morning at 6:30 AM I was pleased to see the vehicle parked just parallel to us:
That's right, the Emina Van. A moment of dyslexia followed by hysterical laughter is a good start to anyone's day. Just imagine being able to say, 'I drive the Emina home every day.'
When we returned that evening the Emina was replaced by another van, the Move. Ironic, isn't it? Since most people pick an Emina when something won't Move?
Life is just funny that way.