The toiletator

It is not often while ensconced on the loo one feels the need to whip out a camera. Indeed, with the exception of very specific circles, such behaviour is normally discouraged by composers of the future family album. Yet, judging from my friend's photographs, I was not alone in doing just that in Japan.

Like my apartment, Japanese toilets are covered with buttons. In truth, to be confronted with options at all in such a situation is a little alarming. My understanding of Kanji (Chinese characters also used in Japanese) is almost non-existent so my comprehension of the choices available came from the diagrams beside each button and these did little to belay my fears. Firstly there is the "heated seat" option. Personally, I find it downright disconcerting to sit down on a pre-warmed surface, but I have been assured that it is a fantastic feature in winter when you are using public restrooms at a freezing train station. The next option is the "music note". Possibly the most benign of the selections, this makes a flushing noise to discretely cover any ... uh ... other noises that might be occurring. Quite why such things would shock other people in a restroom is unclear, but modesty is important, I can understand this. Next follow three buttons seemingly connected with a bidet-like function of different jet strengths. First button shows a diagram of a small stream of water hitting a pair of buttocks. The next button along show the same rear cheeks being splashed with more water lines. The last image, however, shows an entire person being physically lifted off the toilet to sit, suspended, on a powerful tsunami emitting from the toilet bowl below. No, I did not press it. No, I am not going to.

Naturally, all this makes any visit to the bathroom a far more harrowing experience than one is previously used to. Inevitably though, the situation is likely to arise as it did last night while I was at a very nice sushi restaurant in Choufu. Cautiously, I excused myself from the table and padded my way over to the restrooms (my shoes had been disguarded at the restaurant door). Once inside the bathroom, I slipped on a pair of the slippers that were arranged by the door and entered a cubicle (post will stay PG rated, incase anyone was worried). The toilet stood before me, lid down and covered with buttons.

Don't panic. The secret is just not to touch any of the buttons.

I turned and locked the door before revolving back around to find that the loo seat had lifted upwards while my back was turned.

Well hello.

It knows I'm here.

It took a lot not to run. Even more to reveal more sensitive regions to the terminator-like object in front of me. I did not dawdle. I am contemplating the possibility of never using the bathroom again.