I know it’s a blog subject as old as Asia itself but the potties here are very very interesting. Somewhat startling as well. Of course you do have the standard toilet everyone’s familiar with. Sit and flush. But during my travels to various ladies’ rooms in Japan and Korea (I had to go so much that Christopher began to admonish me to “Just hold it.” Which made me laugh and made it even harder to hold….) Learned quickly restaurants do not have a loo to use so if you have business to take care of do it at the station before you leave or you REALLY will need to hold it.)
But back to the potties. One of the first oddities I saw in Asia was in Korea, at Incheon Airport. Mind you, Incheon is not some backwoods airport, it is super sleek, ultra modern, with sweeping architecture and stunning design. Incheon has won best airport in the world for ten years in a row by the global airport rating system. And it deserves it–cool, space age, a monorail, mall, even skating rink–all in its confines. Very impressive.
But I thought I had gone to the men’s room by accident when I first opened the door and saw this. It’s the women’s equivalent of the urinal.A small bidet looking thing right on the floor. Say what? For ladies???
Unsure of what to do, I went to the next stall looking for a real pottie. No. They were all this style. I call it the squattie pottie. There was only one “regular” pottie, and it was “reserved” for handicapped and disabled. Yup. Unsure of what to do, I held it.
In our Hoegi Korea hotel room, the toilet and the shower were in the same room, which is perfectly fine. Just close the lid while you are taking a shower and it’s all good.
There was only one really strange place at the Seoul/Guri station, the stop for the ski bus. All the toilets were regular ones, but there was no PAPER anywhere. Not holders, nothing. There was only an intercom. And when you pressed the button a guy answered in Korean! In the ladies’ room! Quite unnerving. No paper meant I had to drip dry but I didn’t care. Just wanted to get the heck out of there before the man behind the voice showed up. When Kyle asked his Korean friend about it, even the friend didn’t know what that was. No paper, rolls or anything. Just an intercom button. What the heck!
But in Japan, that’s where things in the water closet department got interesting. They are really really quite — what is the word–fastidious about their toileting in Japan. You can’t even believe it. At our hotel in Fussa we had the deluxe model of “spa pottie.” It looks like this:
As you can see there are all kinds of controls and it is in Japanese. So you have to press the buttons and see what happens. One has a sprayer which can shoot spray upwards. You can control the direction and volume of the sprayer. It might be ideal for ladies. Another button is a bidet that washes the *cough* entire area. Then you can press air dry! Best of all, it all happens while you are seated on a WARMED up seat. This sure was nice when we were out in some really cold areas and needed to use the jon. They also have a special handle direction for Number 1 and Number 2. This is for water saving measures I’m told.
In one of Christopher’s school buildings, there was this fancy pottie. It automatically played sounds as you sat. You can choose from flushing or ocean, chimes or music. It has a control to turn the sound off and on.
In Japan, at a large, ancient shinto shrine in the center of Tokyo, they had this one. It puts the comfort in comfort station. It was a work of art. Look how beautifully the stalls are designed! And the door handles. Gorgeous. I had to sit there and admire it for a while. And of course snap pictures when no one was walking by. The boys thought I had extra business when I was starting to take so long but I was really just sitting there enjoying the moment.
Yet in the very next place in Japan I’d be dismayed to have to use a squattie pottie. The dichotomy is puzzling. It feels like you “go” (heh) between mad extremes. One minute you have these five-star heated spa-like Luxury Lavatories with air dry and directional spray and music and the next minute you are trying not to piddle on yourself in a squattie pottie.