Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Asian Toilets

I was browsing through my old travel photos and came across one I took at Narita Airport in Tokyo. This was of an Asian squat toilet at the modern Terminal 2.

For an occidental person, esp European or American, this must be a unique sight. 
Being used to having a seat, it must be extremely uncomfortable even at the thought of squatting to do your business.

And strangely, even if it's just a 'hole' in the ground, there are different manners of using a squat toilet!
The Japanese squat facing the back, i.e. towards the raised portion.
Whereas in other S.E.Asian countries, they face the front.

Not that this matter anyway and it doesn't make any difference to your bowel movement. 
It's just a matter of the country's toilet etiquette.
The Japanese toilet flush has 2 options, 'large' and 'small', referring to the amount of water needed to flush away urine or solid matter.

As an Asian, these squat toilets are very familiar to me but more often now, especially in Singapore, these kind of toilets have given way to the pedestal type.
In fact, in my home we only use the pedestal type and I've been living here for the past 26 years.
So even I hardly ever use a squat toilet anymore. If ever I had to use a public convenience, I would still choose a pedestal over the squat.
It's tough on the knees!

Strangely in Japan, while the public conveniences all have squat toilets, their homes and most of all hotels have the latest, modern and most high-tech type of pedestal toilets.

Compared to American or European type where it's simply a functional bowl, the Japanese pedestal toilet come fully equipped with seat warmers, auto flush, auto bidets, spray jets. The latest models even have deodorizers and music to mask body function noises.

By the way, if ever you are in Japan, please note that the public toilets do not provide toilet paper.
It's called a 'toi-re' or more politely if you are asking, ote-arai, meaning hand-washing room.

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