Current work of members of the Memoir Writers Group at the Bloomfield Township Public Library Spring 2019
Author: Melissa Fosgate Ng
Growing up in a middle-class home, it was important that as a family we joined together each evening for dinner. My two sisters, my mom and my dad would join hands and would say a prayer and give thanks to God. And as we then would continue to eat the dinner so graciously made by our mother each and every night, we would share tidbits from our day or just have simple conversation. And at our goofier nights, my sisters and I would venture onto discussions concerning bodily functions and what it looked like, smelt like, or sounded like. And with this my father would get upset and state, “There is no toilet-talk at the dinner table ladies…”
I must apologize in advance to my father for I am going to get into toilet-talk. I have learned better manners since childhood, but I really must tell you about something that I completely and thoroughly enjoy on my few trips to Japan. Not only do I love the beautiful architecture, the gardens, the markets, the food, and the ever-so-polite nature of the people of Japan, but I really adore their toilets.
Just like you’ve never had pizza until you eaten it in Italy, or you can never comprehend jet-lag of a17-hour flight to Australia while sitting in coach class, you’ve never really had the pleasure of sitting on the toilet until you’ve sat on a Japanese toilet.
In Europe, you must pay to pee. Whether it is at a store, restaurant, train station, the mall, or even a outhouse, you must always pay. No wonder the streets of Europe have a stink around each corner…if you don’t have the right change, well, nature calls, and people suddenly lose their manners. In parts of Eastern Europe and northern Africa, squat toilets can be found readily available, but they do leave a stench in your nostrils. And maybe a wet trickle down your leg.
In Japan, you will never need to pay to use the toilet. And all toilet areas are kept neat and sanitary. I think it comes down to manners and being polite. No one can help if they have to use the toilet. There’s like a code of integrity. You enter a clean space, you leave a clean space.
Whether you are in a train station, a private home, the mall, or an elegant restaurant, the toilets in Japan all have the same characteristics. There’s no social hierarchy when it comes to the toilet.
The toilets are all remote control. The control panel is stationed on the wall next to the toilet. There are many options for the guest to choose from to better your experience: lift lid, lift lid and seat, small flush, large flush, down lid, down lid and seat, and a bidet option.
Some upgraded toilets also have the option of playing soothing gentle music or nature sounds as you perform your toilet duties.
And my favorite function of the Japanese toilet is when you sit on the toilet seat, you will find a nicely heated seat – no matter if it is winter or summer, night or day, the seat stays warm and cozy for each participant.
The control panel erases the fear of all the little germs and bacteria nesting in the most frequented seat in the world. It’s amazing that once your job is complete, a simple button provides the comfort of putting the toilet seat down, and with a simple push of another button, a nice clean flush – no handle to push down, no cord to pull down, just a simple clean flush. It also saves countless arguments about who left the toilet seat up…
Well, I hope my father would be proud that I kept this toilet-talk “clean”…and away from the dinner table!