Teaching In Socks

The Disparity of the Thrones
October 2, 2008, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Japan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I am going to try and keep this discussion as mature as possible. Please try to do the same, we’re all sophisticated here.

Today, I want to discuss international discrepancies in the bathroom, specifically, toilets.

As I have traveled Japan, it has come to my attention that this countries offers a startling range of toilets. A veritable array of models with interchangeable parts and customized options. I find this variety of WC’s fascinating.

I always had the impression that Americans viewed the toilet was the great equalizer. Yes, there will be some variation in size and shine on the home front and public facilities were generally encouraged to offer the “motion sensor” option, but for the most part, America had reached a consensus on porcelain. Tank, seat, and handle, for everyone; nothing too special, but still retaining a certain degree of sophistication when managed properly.

Japan, however had decided go a different route: the route of toilet diversity.

At one end, you have the squat toilet. This hole/ground apparatus is perhaps the most frightening contraption I can ever imagine. Even when they dress it up and layer it with porcelain it still strikes a certain amount of terror within me.  I have heard some nonsense that the position required to use such a facility is a "healthier" way to relieve oneself, but I feel that this is utter nonsense. It looks entirely uncomfortable, potentially hazardous, and positions the operator entirely too close to the end product. Hell, even the hole-in-the-ground (let’s face it, pit) outhouse at Mastodon State Park was affixed with some sort of a seat contraption.  Seats are common sense.

The pits

The pits

At the other end of the spectrum, Japan put their obsession with technology to use, producing a toilet more complex than the Large Hadron Collider. For an American, using one of these is like driving a Delorian- a little frightened by the way the doors open but also a little excited too. These toilets are straight out the mind of Tim Taylor. There are programmable modes, automatic flushing, automatic-motion-sensored seats, heated seats, self cleaning modes, and a bunch of other options that I can’t even understand. It’s impressive yet perplexing.

One major fear does remain: Have the Japanese created a toilet that could one day become self-aware? Are we prepared to deal with a self-aware toilet?

Toilets for Terminators

Toilets for Terminators

Still, these modern electronic toilets are, and I’m guessing (cough cough) convenient. Programmed with a "courtesy" flush mode and deodorizer they certainly do offer an improvement to the experience. Also, you don’t even need to lift the lid, the lid lifts for you. The Japanese took one of the laziest activities I can imagine, and it made it require less effort. When first came across the advanced throne, I couldn’t believe that these hadn’t crossed the pacific en mass. On principle alone, i could see them being more popular than the Prius and Nintendo Wii (you thought those had a waiting list!?). Then I recalled how most Americans still can’t program their VCR, now DVD player. The likely potential for millions of Americans to be sucked into the abyss while hitting buttons in a panic is an indignity my nation is unwilling to suffer.

Progress takes time, and we’d rather not imitate Vespasian nationwide.

2 Comments so far
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Seoul is not too far off my friend…


If you were to go teach in Japan in another couple of years, perhaps your apartment would have been closer in form to this.

Comment by Alan Partridge

Squat toilets are supposed to be less hemorrhoid-inducing; but that high tech toilet is pretty sweet–IM SO TORN!!

Comment by Laura

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