Musings of a Gaijin MD

Life in Japan as a Foreign Doctor

Toilet Tales September 24, 2011

Filed under: Daily Life — GaijinMD @ 11:05 AM
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Being technologically advanced, Japan has also extended these innovations to its toilets.  About 20 years ago, the company Toto decided to combine the toilet and bidet into an all-in-one feature.  Nowadays, most toilets are of this variety.  The “bidet” feature is actually a detachable apparatus that you can place on top of the toilet bowl to form the toilet seat and cover.

Panic green button on the left back wall. Real flushing button on the back plumbing area. Bidet panel next to toilet seat

On first encountering, you will notice a panel of buttons that are usually located next to the toilet seat.  The usual set of buttons include bidet, spray, stop, and flushing sound (to cover up any embarrassing sounds you may make); these buttons are listed in Japanese, pictograms, and sometimes English.  Also included are buttons to adjust the water pressure of the bidet.  Optional features of the high-tech toilet include seat warmers, water warmer, and deodorizer.  As I said before, these panels of buttons are usually located next to the toilet seat.  Sometimes, however, they are located on the wall of the bathroom (which requires some hunting if you are not familiar).

The button actually to flush the toilet is located many times in a different spot from the panel; the shape and color of the real flushing button also vary.  Sometimes, it is located in a similar place to the US’s toilets.  Other times, though, require a very thorough search of the bathroom.  It can be located near the panel of buttons on the side wall or on the back wall or hidden away near the plumbing.  Sometimes, you have to wave your hand in front of a sensor in the wall.

One of my first experiences in Japan occurred when I kept on pushing the “flushing sound” button instead of the “real” flushing one; it was quite frustrating with my thoughts running along the lines of, “No, I want the ‘real’ one, not this fake sound one.  Ugh….”

Then, yesterday even after having lived here for several months, I encountered yet another format.  Again, I could not find the real flushing button.  The only one I could guess to be it was this green button on the wall.  Yes, it did have a sign describing what it was, but again, it was only in Japanese.  Given its green color and how green usually equals “go,” I decided to push it—— only to have the overhead alarms go off.  😦  Apparently, I pressed the “panic/help” button.  Anyways, after realizing my error, I frantically searched for the real button so that I could hopefully exit the stall with no one realizing my American error.  I did finally find it “hidden” away in the plumbing area with a sign (again written only in Japanese) and green arrow.  Next, I tried to walk calmly out of the stall to wash my hands.  By that time, a security guard had burst into the bathroom to see if anyone was in danger (which there wasn’t).  All the while, I was trying to keep my cool and pretend it wasn’t me.

Phew!  Mass embarrassment averted… until next time.


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