Japanese public toilets were one of those culture shock things that were dropped on me the minute I arrived to Japan. Only several years later I finally learned comprehensive mechanisms of the all-purpose creature that is Japanese toilet. To fully understand how everything works , each feature comes with its own explanation sticker that states point by point that no, you cannot leave your baby in the baby seat provided in special maternal toilet cabins, that you should not put your street shoes on a shoe changing platform that yes, is also in a toilet cabin, that you should use sound machine that covers all the other sounds in your cabin to protect your privacy and do not create any inconvinience for surrounding ladies.
An average public toilet comes with the following features :
1. At least two spare toilet paper rolls with instruction on how to change the roll ;
2. Umbrella stand, bag stand, shoe changing platform;
3. Baby seat, diaper changing table;
4. Sound machine and flush button with sensors that allow you to wave your hand to make it work. You don’t actually have to touch anything;
5. Antibacterial napkin dispenser, toilet seat cleaner and deodorant for the inside of a toilet bowl and the air of the cabin;
6. A seat which temperature can be regulated ( in other words, a seat that warms up itself) , shower for ass, bidet and water pressure and temperature regulator;
7. A napkin machine and changing room;
8. Emergency button for ladies who run to the toilet to use it as a shelter.
Amazing, isn’t it? With all this technology, for a foreigner who comes to Japan for the first time it is rather hard to understand which one of these millions of buttons does in fact flush the toilet. I had no idea what the sound machine was for and was horrified at first when it made loud flushing sounds. I thought I broke the toilet!!
And since I am talking about toilet culture in Japan, I also have to mention that Japanese people and ladies in particular do not seek the easy way to go to the toilet. They patiently wait in the toilet line on the first floor of department store whereas 6 other toilets on all the other floors are empty. They do not allow women with small children to bypass them, they brush their teeth in toilets after lunch and they carry small hand towels in their bags which absolutely have to be made by Celine or Vivienne Westwood or Burberry.