SOLSC #27: Confusion in the Commode

Image“Excuse me, do you speak English?  I need help in the bathroom.”

The need to utter this question is one of my worst fears in Japan.  Why, oh why would I ever say such a thing, you may be wondering.  Well, it’s because I live in Japan, the land of high-tech, luxury toilets, and I don’t read Japanese. 

You see, not only are the toilets in Japan fancy, but it seems as if no two are the same.  If you hit the wrong button, you may get music or water sounds or a warmer toilet seat or a shower.   I’m rarely adventurous enough to roll the dice and take the chance that it’ll be the shower. 

Not only is there a buffet of buttons, but the buttons change from toilet to toilet.  The location of the buttons changes too.  It might be on the arm (yes, some toilets here have arms), or the back, or on the wall to the right or to the left of the toilet, or the wall behind the toilet, or it could be one button on the toilet.  Really, there seems to be endless possibilities for button choices and locations.

In fact, some toilets in Japan even have a faucet on the back of the toilet so that you can use the water that fills the tank to wash your hands.  It’s incredibly environmentally friendly, but I haven’t seen a corresponding soap dispenser, so I don’t normally use it.   Image

On more than one occasion I have stood in the stall for several minutes, looking, searching, trying to read, frenetic for the right button.  At the point of complete desperation, I try pulling together my few Japanese words and imaging the conversation.  Do I have enough words to make my plea for help?  Do I have enough guts to ask someone to help me flush the toilet? 

So far, the buttons have made themselves known just before the tears come, but each visit to the Japanese stall brings a new challenge and renewed anxiety.

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13 thoughts on “SOLSC #27: Confusion in the Commode

  1. bbutler627

    Holy crap! Pun intended. This is anxiety written but flawless as to how annoying Japanese toilets can be. I had no idea! You had me laughing through this slice!

    Reply
  2. tsudmeier

    This slice was hilarious! I also felt stress -having to worry about how to use the bathroom every time you go. Why don’t they make them the same??? So interesting.

    Reply
  3. elsie

    I totally understand! Fortunately I was only at the airport in Japan when I discovered their world of toilets. I must say the heated seat felt pretty good. How inconvenient they are not all the same. Good luck?

    Reply
  4. Adrienne

    I have never been to japan, but I smiled at your post. I have travelled extensively in South America however and conditions there vary at the other end of the toilet spectrum. I lived in Colombia for three years and was there in a year they did the census and they worked very hard to get everyone, including homeless people. One of the questions had to do with the type of toilet you had. The possible answers ranged from private indoor flush toilet, shared indoor flush, trough a range of outside options. The last option was, I do not have a toilet. It is funny and sad at the same time.

    Reply
  5. Kim K

    A slice about toilets. Who would have thunk? And a very well written slice about them on top of it. I am continually intrigued by your experiences.

    Reply
  6. Beth

    The Big Necessity devotes an entire chapter to the development of Japanese toilets…I like the idea of shower and finishing up.

    Reply
  7. spillarke

    Just the laugh I needed this morning. Love it and the toilet picture. You are brave, brave,brave– I can just imagine the Japan-glish plea for plumbing help to flush! Brings bathroom anxiety to a whole new level. Who knew we were missing
    Out on armrests here!

    Reply
  8. Kelli

    Good grief. That was funny, but made me anxious. Especially seeing as the older I get, the less I am able to ignore the fact that I have to pee.

    Reply

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