Public toilets (2004-05-31)

If you are coming to Japan for the first time, be prepared to have to use a squat toilet.  It is basically just a hole in the ground where you spread your legs over it and do your business.  If you've never done it before and somewhat lack gymnastic litheness, they will be a little tricky to use.  Squatting is not as easy as it looks, particularly when you have to do it with your pants down.  One instant of losing your balance you'll end up sitting on the toilet floor mopping up all the nasties  with your bare butt, thinking of it gives me goose bumps.   And I don't know how fast you are in relieving yourself, if you are one of those people who like to take their time, your legs will say "No!" before your gut will say "Yes!" because squatting turns your legs into jelly faster than you can change a toilet roll.  And the worst part of the whole exercise is seeing your own smelly bits come out of your crotch and land not two feet from your face staring right at you.  While you wait for your business to finish, they just stare some more.

To be truthful, there are more western style toilets than Japanese style toilets in public.  So there's no need to worry except may be when you're in older train stations and desperate to go because most toilets on offer at such places are old-fashioned squat toilets.  But you can always look on the bright side: your skin never has to touch any surface using one.  For a germaphobic like myself, this is a very important, and about the only good thing of a squat toilet.

I hope you're not eating when you read this entry.

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