As you can see…it’s been a while. Admittedly, I was locked out of my own blog. Seriously. I mean, who does that?! No worries though, I am ready to rock and roll once again!
To keep up with my civic duties (As I mentioned in an earlier blog; and no I wasn’t arrested and sentenced to community service.), I plan to take you on a virtual adventure to an amazing place here in Okinawa. I know, I know…what place isn’t amazing in Okinawa?! FYI: That was a rhetorical question. Don’t feel the need to hunt me down and answer that. 😉
This is kind of like a journey with Mr. Rogers….”Would you be my? Could you be my? Won’t you be…my neighbor?” Put on your imagination hats and lets begin.
First stop: A traditional Japanese Public Restroom
I know, I know..you’re thinking “what kind of journey is this going to be?” Trust me though on this one, most tourist spots have this type of public restroom. Knowing the basics could help you out in the future. I like to think of it as a cultural awareness exploration. So, when in Rome do as the Romans do; and when in Okinawa, go as the Okinawans do. 🙂 First image to visualize is this: you pee in a trough. Is your imagination troubling you? Are you having a hard time conjuring up an image of yourself doing that? No worries…I have visual aids!
Alright, let’s get down to business (no pun intended): How to use those toilets? First of all, it is nowhere near as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Honestly, I have no complaints…well, except that I always find the one full of spiders. Anyway just walk into the stall and shut the door. See the first step was a cinch! You can do this!!
Rule #1: watch where you step.
Rule #2: do NOT set your purse on the ground.
Rule #3: check for toilet paper…if you’re out good luck asking for more, unless of course, you can say that in Japanese. If that’s the case, chat away. Everyone loves to talk with the person in the stall squatting next to them.
Rule #4: you SQUAT, you do NOT actually sit down. This rule is of the utmost importance!
So, now that we have that cleared up here’s how to begin your restroom adventure. Face the lovely porcelain trough. Which, depending on your location will range in color from white, green, pink, or blue. If you are a lady and you are looking at a blue trough you might be in the wrong place. Japan is very good about color coordinating their restrooms to the gender it is designated for.
While facing the trough get yourself situated (purse down, pants/shorts/skirt/what have you in the ready position). If you’ve ever camped or spent a lot of time in the wilderness this next step will be a cinch; however, if spending time in nature is not your thing then you’ll really enjoy this new experience. Get as far forward as you comfortably can (you are facing the toilet fixtures). This is ultimately for your own good as a misaligned body will create a bit of misaligned urine (or more depending on how badly you needed this visit). It’s a fact. Now that you have your feet planted firmly where you want them for your best overall comfort, pull your pants or whatever you’re wearing down. And by down, I mean ALL THE WAY DOWN! Below the knees is a requirement.
Now for the part that requires a bit of coordination. Squat down and grab your clothes with one hand and pull them as far forward as you can while simultaneously ensuring that you have nothing in the line of fire, so to speak. Once you have determined that you will not pee on your things or yourself, attempt to relax and let it all out. 🙂
Once you are ready, the toilet paper is usually at eye level for a squatter. But (there’s always something else isn’t there?), it is not uncommon to find a Japanese restroom with NO toilet paper or hand towels. In fact, most locals carry their own tissue and/or towel in their bags. To avoid getting to this point and having to squat for longer than necessary while you drip dry, I suggest two things. First, check before you go through all the hassle. Secondly, carry some Kleenex or something in your purse. Problem solved and really sore legs put on hold for a different day. Now, if you stand before wiping that’s on you….literally! Ha ha ha!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Get yourself all nice and pretty again and simply step on the handle to flush the toilet. Some toilets have a higher handle, in that case you can use your hand to flush..unless you are really flexible and just feel like using your foot. In that case, use your foot…just watch where you step when placing it back on the ground. 🙂
There really isn’t anything to the toilets other than they are totally different from what us American’s are used to. It’s something unique to the Japanese culture. Much of Japan is moving away from this type of toilet; however, they are still very prevalent here in Okinawa. You only live on this great planet once, give it a shot!
What’s the history on these? Sadly I know this bit of information…..back in the day the Okinawans used to use these troughs to feed their pigs. That’s right. Pre-WWII pigs were fed human waste. Um…I’ll have the chicken please. The troughs were angled slightly down so that when you used them your byproducts would flow down into the pigs pen. What the pigs did with it from that point is on them. This practice changed when the Americans deemed it unhygienic after WWII. But if you want to see how that setup worked head over to the Okinawa Zoo. They have a traditional home setup near the boat rides. In the back of this home is what an Okinawan toilet used to look like…pig pen and all.
So drink plenty of water and go use a public restroom. You have to try it at least once when you’re here. 🙂