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  Western Training meets Eastern Facilities:  Culture Clash with the Lo Tech Toilet      

The Japanese toilet is a daunting apparatus to the uninitiated, and unsuspecting gaijin.  I have to admit, I resisted.  Many times, I looked, stopped, and thought, “Nope, I can hold it.”  Not even the Japanese prefer them.  I have watched Japanese women stand in long lines to use the one western style toilet when Japanese toilets are available.  However, inevitably, the time comes when the “benjo” is not an option, it is the only option.

After living in country a month, and occasionally suffering from the affects of a tiny mushroom that doesn’t like me very much, I have learned, out of desperation, to use whatever is available.

First encounters bring random confused thoughts:  How do I use that?  Can’t sit on it, too narrow.  No seat.  How do I flush it?  Where do I put my feet?  What happens to my shoes?  Which direction do I face?  Darn men!  They don’t have to deal with this, they get to stand up.  I can figure out the one on the floor, what do I do with the elevated one?  How in the world will I ever be able to stand up?

Some, thank all the gods and goddesses, actually provide foot pads so you know where to stand.  Some provide hand rails.  (More gratitude to appropriate deities.)  These old bones can use the help standing back up.  All kindly and conveniently place the paper dispenser within reach at the front, providing a gentle clue in which direction to face.  Ah, but, to flush can be a mystery.  There is a wide range of hardware and placement.  You just have to look around.

So, friends and family, before you visit, practice deep knee bends and squats. Bring a very open mind and a hearty sense of humor.  The ability to laugh at myself in these Western Training meets Eastern Facilities situations lightens the culture shock considerably.  -Bobbie