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Published: September 13th 2017
There is a certain loss of privacy around performing your daily ablutions when you travel. Not only are you away from your own home and facilities you are also in much closer proximity to others, some of whom you may not even know.
These are unavoidable tasks and we make allowances for those that we share our space with in normal daily life, we put up with the sounds and smells that go along with that person, and even if we dont find that easy at least we feel we can make comment on them and ask that something be done about the impact that they are having on others.
When you travel this all goes out the window, you hear people you dont know or cant see make noises, you encounter smells that leave you questioning their origin and sometimes its worse, sometimes even other senses get assaulted, you encounter a smell so vile you taste it, or god forbid you step or place your hand into a substance that you best not try and identify for fear of regurgitating your last meal.
I've traveled in a number of third world countries where the importance of personal hygiene is questionable if not optional, where the disposal of bodily waste is done in the medieval style and occasionally performed in public and where the conglomerated odour of the population is part of the ambience of society.
That is not the case in Japan.
Bodily functions and a persons ADL's (activities of daily living) are given a high priority and society has developed some ingenious ways for those to be as anonymous and low impact as is possible.
While generally the bathrooms are quite small the facilities provided are well thought out, the baths are short but deep the sink small but practical and the toilets go above and beyond all expectations.
Like most Asian countries you encounter "squat toilets", they are not as common as in other parts of Asia but unlike some countries its easy to distinguish between the toilet and the surrounding floor, its such a pleasure to not have to wade through a faecal swamp and take a guess at where to go while performing a balancing act.
The western style toilet is the norm and in a way a little disappointing when encountered because the Japanese have taken the western toilet and expanded on it to the point where bodily functions become entertainment. There is an element of excitement when you get the urge to go because you dont know what you will encounter when you hit the cubical.
The bottom of the range will warm the seat and give you're bottom a squirt should you think it's required and you might get a choice of light or heavy squirt, I guess that depends on the severity of what you have just complete. The next level up gives you all of the above plus a few more squirt options and possibly a bidet function for the ladies ( or the men if that's you're thing) and it may even flush itself when you stand up, this type usually has a control pad on the side Of the bowl.
Then there is the top of the range is hands free, not only does it do everything that I have already mentioned but as you approach it the toilet seat cover will raise automatically and you will notice a wall mounted control panel that has numerous options that include one that will blow warm air over your bottom which can be a little unseltling if you aren't prepared for it, and to ensure that you don't disturb the person in the cubical next door with unsavoury noises you can press a button that plays southing music or alternatively if you want to mask the natural noise of releaving yourself the sound of a babbling brook is available so the sound of your flow is indistinguishable. Once you have completed your necessities you can take advantage of all the cleaning and freshening options, ensuring you leave in better condition than you entered. Then as you exit the seat cover comes down and a small puff of fragrance is released so that the person following thinks they are walking into grove of wildflowers.
Never in my travels has attending to bodily functions been such an experience or had so many options.
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