We arrived in Narita International Airport, and an immediate observation I heard was, “The bathrooms are really cool.” I’ve seen my fair share of artist-designed or themed bathrooms, so I assumed this comment had something to do with the décor.
Upon entering for myself, my first reaction was thinking, “Wow, its hot in here.” The room appeared quite ordinary and more uncomfortable than most restrooms I’ve encountered. As I would come to learn, the magic lay within the stall.
The toilet fixture itself was more advanced than my first cell phone. It had many buttons I didn’t dare press, but I was impressed by the complexity of something used only out of necessity. This experience did not stay with me until I found my second Japanese bathroom.
In the tiny (and I mean tiny) hotel room, The even tinier bathroom was filled with more technology than I have access to at my college. There was a panel on the wall which offered multiple bidet and water-shooting options. Even the shower and the sink were connected and had intense knobs to turn to transfer water flow. Before seeing Akihabara and the advanced electronics available in Tokyo, I saw a theme emerging.
My first host family pushed the limits of my expectations. During the house tour, the most time was spent showing me how to flush the toilet (there was a button on the wall) and turn on the shower (there was a button, no knobs to turn in strange directions).
I found my first toilet/sink combo in a school. After I flushed, the back part of the toilet began dispensing water with which to rinse one’s hands. Of course, there was no soap available, but that seems to be typical here. One is not always expected to wash their hands after using the toilet. This is strange considering most restaurants give wet towels for washing up before a meal. I can’t quite understand their standard of cleanliness.
I could count on one hand the number of normal-to-me toilets I’ve encountered which is saying something because I drink a lot of water. From the houses I’ve stayed in to the schools which I’ve taught at, the commonality is the complexity of the toilet. There is a trope about how Australia’s toilets flush in the opposite direction, but there is a truth that Japan’s toilets are the best in the world.
Japanese bathrooms are almost never air conditioned, even if the rest of the building is freezing. Perhaps this is to prevent people from lingering (I’m guilty of finishing books in the bathroom), but it makes for an uncomfortable place to relieve oneself.
What’s the coolest toilet you’ve seen? I’m honestly wondering if there are some cool-bathroomed-countries out there that I should add to my list, so please let me know!