Daily Archives: September 15, 2004

The toilet experience 1

My trip to Japan last year was a very interesting experience. Not just because it was the first time I was flying to another country but also because of the cultural differences. No one needs to be told that Japan is *the* place when it comes to technological advancement and optimisation of space. The place is very beautiful, clean, unpolluted, safe and the people very helpful. I had planned to make a separate blog for my Japan sojourn but that never really materialised. I wrote a couple of posts earlier, but that was about it. There are a lot of things about Japan, that would strike one in the first go. And then, some not quite so obvious.

One of the aspects – the technological advancement could be seen even in the way the toilets were. Once I went to an italian place and the loos were really hi-tech! The toilet seat had an arm kinda thingy attached to it and there were lotsa buttons nearby. I suppose they were probably to splash water on your butt from different angles :-). All I could do was guess, because the controls were written in Japanese. The buttons looked quite tempting in different colours, but since I didn’t want any fiascos happening in a strange place where I wouldn’t even be able to communicate what happened, I refrained. I must mention that the toilet seat was pre-warmed (and no it was not because someone had toasted it with their butt) which was a relief in those unbearable cold snowy winters! The controls and all made the “hot-seat” appear as if it was some space ship cockpit or something :).

Once we went to this place called Roppongi and went to a thai restaurant there, called Irewan. It was on the 13th floor of a building. The night lights view was too good.. and these ppl had some weird loos! They were one step ahead of the previous ones. They didn’t have so many gadgets and all.. in fact they were more “natural” coz they were practically open! I mean one side of the four walls was a glass pane from where one could see the cool breathtaking view outside (from the 13th floor) and the world could see you too! It also had a lot of potted plants right next to the WC. Then it struck me that such an advanced place would obviously not be so reckless in their planning, though one could never be sure because they certainly aren’t as conservative as Indians. I concluded that the glass was only one way and not really see-through as I imagined. I felt quite odd, but had no choice but to answer nature’s call there, trying to hide behind the foliage.

Most of the public loos there are equipped with sensors in all kind of places. If not sensors then the least expected lever would be designated for performing the flushing action. Every time I went outside, I saw new and different “technologies”. So much so, that by default, I would start expecting some weird gadgetry in each new place I visited. There was this loo in a metro station where I could just not find a hotspot for a sensor or any lever which would actually perform the flushing action. Another thing I had noticed was that it kept flushing automatically even when no one was inside. I tried imagining that may be that was the technique here but then that would be quite ineffective. The toilet would never end up clean when required and would keep wasting water when not needed. So at this particular place, I kept waving my hand at whatever remotely resembled a sensor and kept pressing everything that remotely resembled a lever. But to no avail. It didn’t work. Sheepishly, I had to make an exit because there was a long queue waiting. And as I opened the door Lo! behold! The thing flushed automatically. In fact the same had happened when I entered. But I must say again, quite a weird logic. Well, all’s well that flushes well :).