Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Latest addition to the "WHAT the...??!" file

This is one of the traditional Japanese squat toilets in the lady's restroom at my school. Looks like fun, doesn't it?

I remember the first time I saw one of these after our arrival in Tokyo. I didn't know what to make of it, but I really had to go and there was no other option. I was convinced the first time I used it that I'd peed all over the back of my pants and that I'd walk out looking like a total fool. Once I was finished of course I discovered I hadn't peed on myself after all and all was right with the world. It took a while to get over the fear of peeing on myself but after using the squatters several times without incident, I kind of got over it.

In case you are wondering how you're supposed to use it, you just face the pipes, scooting as far forward as possible so as not to overshoot the pot, and squat all the way down to your ankles and go. I usually pull up a bit on the crotch of my pants just to make sure there are no accidents.

Joe has a couple very entertaining stories about his misuse of these toilets, but I'll leave those for him to tell someday.

These kind of toilets are the most common toilets around here, though some restrooms also will have a western toilet, often a bidet.

So I no longer get my panties in a wad about using one of the squatters, and in fact I admit that in some cases they are even nicer than regular western toilets because there's no actual physical contact with a toilet seat. In other cases, however, they can really be pretty disgusting, most notably at the train stations, where they are quite often utterly filthy. It's not a pleasant experience to squat down right up close and personal with a grimy, foul smelling pot (not to mention the surrounding floor).

I'd complained about this a while back to Joe's family, and his younger sister Jenny apparently took it upon herself to help me solve this problem.

In a recent package that arrived from Joe's family, there were two flat, square gifts addressed to me from Jenny. I opened the first one and looked at it.

Turning it over to the back side...

Say it with me now: "WHAT the...??!"

I turned to Joe, who was chewing his dinner, and said, "What the hell is this?! Did you know she was getting me this?"

"Yeah," he said. "What's the big deal?"

He was confused. I was confused. Was this not "chotto hen" (a little weird)?

He finally paid attention to what was in my hands and realized it wasn't what he was expecting — the folded up "international translator" sheet with pictures you can point to in everyday situations when you don't know the word for something. That was the other square flat gift. She said she found both of them at Magellans online travel supply store.

We both had a hearty chuckle over this strange and unexpected gift. I opened it up to check it out and saw it's basically just a paper funnel that ladies are supposed to, you know, hold just so. You know, in a manly kinda way. No squatting required.

Yes, for my birthday, Jenny gave me the ability to pee like a man. Um, thank you, Jenny.

The package cautions me in five different languages that "The use of the Urinelle could feel strange at first. Be aware that the tube will feel warm."

Hmm. I'll have to take the package's word for it because this is a little too strange for me to try. But I'll keep 'em around. I guess you never know when we might go somewhere where I'd be glad I had them.


Diane said...

I have to admit, the prospect of strange toilets makes me more nervous than foreign languages or any other travel "challenges." I'd meant to ask you what the toilets were like there. I feel so enlightened.

Natalie said...

I have a squatter in my house, but due to hurting my ankle so bad I could not squat, I had to get a convertor.
Sadly, I have peed on myself twice :-( And apparently so have other teachers at my school, cause there has been yellow puddles too often

Natalie said...

Oh and those funnel things were very popular at Woodstock. You should check out the articles, though I think it looked a little different