Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baka Gaijin, Part 1

I’ve neglected this blog for such a long time and it feels good to be writing again, however mundane this entry would turn out to be!

I promised myself I would blog about my Japan trip because I really, really enjoyed it and there's so much I learned when I was there. I wasn’t able to blog about my China trip, which was unfortunate, because while it’s not as fun and adventurous and educational, it’s still important to me because it was my first trip abroad.

Anyway, I don’t know how to go about blogging my Japan trip. There are some stuffs I want to talk about immediately *cough*Arashi*cough but I think that could wait a little longer, when the need to fangirl has subsided a bit. :D

Shoot, so where was I? Right, I’m trying to make a very structured post but if I continue planning I won’t be able to write anything at this rate. And - what the hell - I found a good starting point at telling my story: I went just a few minutes ago to the washroom and it occurred to me to write about the toilet system in Japan . Yep, this is a very inspired post, I tell you.

What I noticed was that all the restrooms in Japan (at least the ones I’ve visited) had bidet toilets. Heck, even my tiny, tiny hotel room (why do I keep referring to it as hotel anyway? It’s an inn!) had a bidet toilet. It had settings for uh, posterior cleaning and uhrm, feminine cleaning. One can also adjust the water temperature and pressure. The toilet at the office, on the other hand, had an air dryer! There’s also numerous other buttons the function of which I haven’t had the courage to find out. Then there’s also this apparatus which at first I thought was some kind of deodorizer. When you press the button, it makes a flushing sound, but I couldn’t detect any smell or any other use from it. I asked one of my male officemate if they had a similar gadget in their washroom but he just gave me a blank look. So I checked the net, and guess what? According to Wikipedia, "many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought of being heard by others during urination". So this apparatus, or Otohime (thanks Wikipedia!), was meant to mask the sound of "wiwi". :D

The toilet at the hotel lobby was quite high tech as well. I meant to take a vid, but forgot about it so you would have to do with my description: when you enter, the light automatically opens. When you get near the bowl, the cover automatically lifts for you. The bidet buttons attached to the seat are more complicated than the one installed in my room. The thrash can, soap dispenser, sink faucet have motion sensors as well.

And speaking of hotels, the hotel, I mean, the inn that we stayed in was so small, even our Japanese colleagues were making fun of it! One of the joke was, the TV in the inn was so high tech, you don’t even need a remote control to operate it. You just extend out your arms and voila! you can press the buttons already! Of course, that’s a bit of exaggeration on their part, but you get the idea. Here’s a picture of the room for your better appreciation:

There’s a bed in the corner (which is the single biggest thing in the room); on opposite side is a long table that functions as a dresser, TV table, laptop table and dining table. There’s a chair you can sit in for grooming, for watching TV (if you prefer watching near the TV) (the TV, by the way, is flat screen HD-quality and I want to steal it), for eating (if you don’t like to eat on the bed), and for laptop use since the telephone and internet cable are also on the dresser table. The safety vault, water heater, thrash can and mini-ref are under the table. There’s no closet in the room, only a wooden clothesline pole where you can hang your clothes (but not everything at once; probably 3-5 sets of clothes piled on top of one another). A note says there’s enough room under the bed to put one’s luggage. I assumed that’s a nice way of saying that I can use my luggage as closet for the other clothes I can’t put up. Then, while everything else has its instruction translated in English, someone thought it’s a nice idea NOT to put English instructions for a very important appliance in the room: the heater/airconditioner. I did trial and error on the buttons to get my desired room temperature, but after 2 nights of alternately breaking into sweats or shivering from the cold, I just turned the unit off, let the room temperature stay at the same level and curl up inside the comforter.

But despite these complaints, I liked the inn that we stayed in. Unlike in China , some of the attendants can speak or at least understand English so it was easier to communicate with them. They’re also very friendly and helpful, and that’s saying a lot because it’s the type of inn where you don’t expect to get pampered. They don’t have security guards (a phenomenon very common in Japan that impressed me so much), they don’t have valet, room or laundry services, they don’t have bellboys. The guests are expected to carry their luggage, do their own laundry, flag down a taxi on their own. But the staff try their best to help you get directions, or explain how to use the laundry or the printer in the lobby. When one of my officemate had a mild complaint about the heater in his room, the staff apologized profusely and offered to transfer him to another room. So even if the inn is a like a dorm-type dwelling, everyone still makes sure that the guests are comfortable and secure.

There! Done with first Japan trip-related entry! (BTW, baka gaijin means "stupid foreigner".)

1 comment:

David said...

The Japanese Toilet is really a toilet bidet combination and although nice is also very expensive. You can keep your current toilet and get the same benefits by adding a hand bidet sprayer for very little cost. A hand held bathroom bidet sprayer is so much better than a stand alone bidet and this is why: 1. It's less expensive (potentially allot less) 2.You can install it yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. Available at