The first thing I learned when we arrived in Japan was that the toilet situation was going to be a little bit different from what we were used to. How different could it really be? I am from Kentucky and have used plenty of “out houses” over the years. My mother will tell you that as a child I had a fascination with bathrooms and every time we went somewhere I had to use/check-out the facilities. If we were at a relative’s house that had multiple bathrooms I was sure to go in every one. Fortunately, I out grew this and became less fond of doing my “business” in public restrooms.
Now that I am 30 weeks pregnant I really have no choice when it comes to going in a public restroom, considering I get the “urge” every 5 minutes. There are two types of toilets here in Japan. One is way more elaborate than anything I have ever seen in America and the other is the complete opposite, a whole in the ground. I have only had the pleasure of using the elaborate toilet once. I immediately fell in love with the heated seat. There is nothing I hate more than using an outdoor public restroom in the winter and sitting down on a cold seat. There is a panel of controls on the side of this Japanese toilet, which control the bidet (both wash and dry options). I knew I did not want to use that since I am pregnant, plus using a public bidet seems weird to me. I did, however, push a button on the panel assuming it was the flush, only to find out that it was an emergency alert button. By the time I pulled up my pants there were 3 Japanese men outside the door ready to help me. I assume this is a good feature if you have “fallen and can’t get up”, but a rather embarrassing feature if you are an American that does not read Japanese. I have later researched that the other buttons are for noise, which play sounds/music if you are embarrassed to have others hear you make your business. They really have thought of everything for this toilet.
The majority of the public toilets in Japan are squat toilets (or at least the ones I have encountered), which absolutely blew my mind the first time I saw one. I seriously stood in the stall for about 5 minutes trying to figure out what I was looking at and how exactly to utilize it. I thought maybe I had accidentally gone into the men’s room at first because it resembles a urinal that is lying on the floor. Here is a picture I took yesterday at the zoo (I tried to get my feet in the bottom of the photo for reference) of a squat toilet.
I have “Googled” the best way to use this type of toilet and looked at several diagrams and have come to the conclusion that I have no idea what I am doing. True story: I pee on my own shoes every time! Let’s go over this diagram:
Steps 1 and 2 seem easy enough, but 3 is where I really start to have trouble. Step 3: Pull down your pants to ankle! How do ladies not pee all over their own pants? I don’t know about y’all, but I am not that accurate. Step 4: Squat down over bowl. Now it may be that I am very pregnant or my lack of leg muscles, but once I initiate Step 4 I usually go straight to the last step, which is to fall over. If you are going to make people squat, you might as well include a bar or something to hold on to. I can’t possibly be the only person that has trouble with this! My husband tells me that if I exercise more and do squats regularly then I would not have this problem. But even with stronger legs and core, that still leaves me with the fact that I have no control over where it goes while it is coming out. So if you have a better solution for me, please let me know. For now, I’ll be the one in the stall that completely undresses before going.