Tuesday, February 05, 2008

In the Interests of Education

Go to Dr. Virago's place over at Quod She, and you'll see some great pictures of Norwich, England. Seriously, she's got great pictures of churches, and talks about medieval Norwich.

In contrast, here at Bardiac, you're getting a tour of my bathroom fixtures, because people asked. And you ask, you get educated; that's the way I try to work!

First off, when I say bathroom fixtures, what I really should do is explain that in my apartment, there are two rooms, adjacent, but not adjoining. The first is basically a small toilet room. There's a toilet, there's a little toilet paper thing, and enough room to turn around and stuff. Just a few steps down the hall from that is a washroom, with a sink and a washer/dryer combo (because, I'm told, they realize that foreigners aren't necessarily into hanging laundry out), and a door into the bathing room. The bathing room has a tub, which is shorter than standard US tubs I'm familiar with, but also quite a bit deeper. The bathing room also has a shower thing, and a little stool, along with a drain in the floor. In Japan, the practice is to wash with the shower thing, perhaps sitting on the stool to really scrub clean. And then when one is scrubbed clean, you get into the nice tub and soak for a bit. I gather that in family situations, the same water gets used several times over in the tub, since the bodies going in are all nice and scrubbed clean.

Here, then, is the command center for the toilet. Yep, it's a bidet. I'm not sure what the difference is supposed to be between the blue and the pink buttons (I've tried them both), but I'm guessing they're somehow gendered. The red button turns it off. The buttons below that control for warmth. (Because who would want an icy bidet? Not me!) To the right, where you can only see the edge of a button, is the control for the seat warmer. Yes, the seat is warmed. It's really, really nice on a cold morning!

Even the flush mechanism has instructions. If you're a faithful reader, you'll recognize the kanji for "big" (person with arms outstretched); the other is, I guess, small. You know when a kid tells you about fishing, and holds out his hands to show you the size? You can now imagine what I'm thinking when I decide which flush to use. You'll never think of my toilet in quite the same way again, will you?

This is how the toilet looks from the front. So you also get an idea of how small the room itself is. I have to admit, I like the icons for the bidet thing, except they're deceptive. Rather than a sort of reverse shower on one's bottom, it's more like a semi-sharp stream, aimed a bit further back than seems quite effective for optimal cleaning. Or maybe I'm sitting wrong? (I've never worried much about sitting wrong on a toilet before. Hmmm.)

Notice the spigot on top, running over a decorative blue thing? I'm not sure what that's about, but it's fresh water that's filling the tank for the next flush. Maybe I'm supposed to wash my hands there? (Rather than walking into the next room?)

The tub is it's own matter. There's this control panel on the wall above it. It's on in the picture. The top left button turns it on and off. The top right button adds water. The lower right button seems to reheat the water that's in the tub. And the lower left button seems to turn on an intercom thing. I have this scary idea that the intercom somehow goes to the guardhouse at the main gate of the university, and that they're supposed to come help somehow if I start yelling that I need help. But really, I think it's an intercom to the living room/kitchen area of the apartment, where there's a main control for the tub. (Sort of funny, because it would be standard easy talking/yelling distance in the US households I'm familiar with.)

The center information tells the temperature the tub is set to, I think; I turned it up a bit from 40 (Celsius, of course!), but when it fills, it seems to be fairly moderately warm. When it reheats, it's incredible!

In my last post, I talked about the tub talking back. Here's the thing; it doesn't say anything when you turn it on, but if you hit the intercom button, a bright and cheery, and stereotypically high/female voice says something and you can also hear the voice out in the main room. And when you hit the reheat button, the same voice says something different, but also in a bright, almost excited tone. I keep thinking she's saying "here comes the hot water!"

So there you are, a tour of my bathroom fixtures. This blog is nothing if not educational, right?


  1. Anonymous4:03 AM

    Can we hear audio clips of the excited bathtub voice? :-) I'm glad you're having fun (and educational!) adventures! I admire your daring and dedication to preparing (new language, etc.) for your exchange & appreciate your taking time to narrate your experiences for us.

  2. That all sounds complicated! Yep, I think the spigot on the back of the toilet is for hand washing ... unless maybe it's just some zen white noise for while you're hanging out in the loo. It's definitely nowhere near common in the US, but you can buy those hand washing toilet tank attachments here.

    I don't know how much internet using downtime you get there, but when I read your post I immediately thought of a blog I used to read about an American guy who lived with his family in Japan for a few years:

    He would pick one or two weird (well, to us) cultural nuances to write about for each post. He's back in the US now, but his archives make great reading. In fact, when I just looked up his blog now, I saw that he's got a version of your funky toilet seat control panel on his front page. heh.

    Anyway, thanks for the tour of your place (well, your bathroom). This is quite educational!

  3. Wow, technological challenges at every turn! Who knew bathrooms would pose such a challenge?

  4. I'm a big fan of the "big flush/little flush" idea! (The kanji for "big" is definitely the only one I learned to recognize in Japan.)

  5. I'm going to be laughing all day long with a parody of the baby's game "How big is baby? SOOOOO BIG!" playing in my head....


  6. Oh, man, that bathtub -- WANT!

  7. This is all so fascinating. And I totally want a nice deep tub now.

  8. Ok, now I am dying to know what that is a picture of on the blue button! An ass? A pair of balls? Pleeeeeeeeeease tell us if you find out.

  9. Scott, Clearly, you have a higher expectation of my technical abilities than is warranted. I have no clue how to make an audio thing with the technology I have here.

    Meg, that's cool! Thanks for the link!

    Coffee-Drinking Woman, Other bathrooms pose different challenges! I almost fell in at the train station yesterday.

    Kermit, I've also learned one other, that looks like someone running and has to do with the name of the city I'm in. But "big" is definitely important!

    Artemis, I live to entertain :)

    Delagar, I would HAPPILY live with this tub at my own home. It's hot and so wonderful to soak in.

    Susan, We need to work on deeper tubs in the US!

    MSILF, I THINK it's a rear end. I'm no anatomist, but testicles would be uneven, no? Besides, testicles don't need the washing so much as other spots?

  10. In Israel we had the big button (big flush) and small button (small flush) options. No cool pictures though.

    Same small toilet room.

    We also had a nasty looking dark green porcelain bidet that was mostly used to hold newspapers until we had a three year old turn on the water full force.

  11. That may be the coolest toilet I've ever seen pictures of! :) Thank you!