Japan Day 4- Help! I'm Trapped on a Super Toilet and I Can't Get Off!!
There was something hanging over my head ever since I got to Japan (well, not literally, thankfully), something that worried me.
Now, while I'd been in Japan, I had made it a point to live out of my comfort zone. I ate food I wasn't familiar with. I went places I didn't know. I got lost. I talked to people I couldn't communicate with and I drank sake in places I wasn't sure I was allowed to drink it.
There's some comfort zones that are more nerve wracking to get away from of than others, but I knew from the moment I saw it, that the Japanese super toilet and I had a date with destiny.
Now I had used a Japanese super toilet in limited fashion. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to flush it. I didn't use any other function.
In America, our toilets are relatively simple: lift lid, poop, push flush lever thingie, replace toilet seat, wash your damn hands you filthy bastard. However, the toilets in Japan are a bit different.
The first is the traditional toilet, which is basically just a hole in the ground. It's also somewhat daunting as I know from the time used one. (It was a great leg workout though.)
The second kind are the Super Toilets, and they are surprisingly all over the place: in hotels, office buildings, train stations, even at the thousand year old Buddhist Temple I stayed at in the mountains. I even saw one on a bullet train! (There's a pun in there somewhere and if you can think of it, leave it in the comments below.)
But the problems presented by the super toilet are more mental than physical. While the traditional Japanese toilet makes makes your quads pump and your body perspire, there's not a whole lot to figure out. There's a hole in the ground, you poop in said hole, you wipe, flush, wash your damn hands you filthy bastard, and then you bask in an aura of manly pride and fart smells while Toto's "Africa" plays on your smartphone's headphones while you silently lip-sing the entire song in the stall. Just like you'd do every time you pooped at home. (And I dare you to believe I didn't actually do that. I. DARE. You.)
But if the traditional Japanese super toilet is the equivalent of leg day at the gym, the Super Toilet is the equivalent of a calculus test... in a different language. (Not that I've ever taken calculus. Would language even matter for that kind of, uh... never mind.)
Not that I knew how complicated it'd be. I was just afraid of the bidet.
Now, I think, logically, bidets are actually a really good idea. I mean, in theory they seem like they'd be much better at cleaning your sludge dumper than regular toilet paper. But on the other hand, I'm an American. And as an American and a product of American public schools, I was always taught that there is no worse fate than getting anything within a three inch radius of your butthole.
Now I know this three inch rule is silly and frankly I violate it every time I wipe or wash my crusty old backside. I know some people are much more adherent to the three inch rule, politicians mostly, and I think that's why they seem much more full of shit than regular people.
But today was the day. The day, I bidet. Bidet Day. (Someone get a petition going on that immediately to turn it into a national holiday. I can imagine the floats in the parade already.)
So, I wedged my way into the toilet stall (bathrooms are ridiculously small in Japan compared to American bathrooms), pulled down my pants, and sat down. Everything was going according to plan. First... I pooped. (That was pretty much the whole plan.)
Then came the time. I pressed the bidet button (which sort of looked like a butt sitting on a flux capacitor), the toilet made a disconcerting mechanical sound and the bidet thingie emerged from the back of the toilet. I braced myself and then…
It was actually pretty nice! Well, aside from the fact that it kind of felt like someone peeing into my butt… but yeah, aside from that, it was great. The water was warm and it really felt pleasant. Like it was doing a good job of cleaning up that hellhole of mine.
So with my fears faced, there was nothing to do but kickback and enjoy the rinse.
But then a minute or so goes by and the bidet is still doing it's thing, which I thought was strange, but then again, the Japanese are very thorough people. They probably just like their butt-buttons thoroughly cleansed.
No reason to panic...
And then five minutes roll by and I start wondering what the heck is going on with this toilet? Is it broken? Surely, this can’t be normal. How smart is this toilet? Does it, like, have some kind of sensor that measures how dirty your butthole is? How dirty is my butthole?!
My mom always says I'm full of shit but I didn’t think she was being literal.
I was starting to panic. How was I going to get away from this crazy toilet? I couldn't just jump off, I had my camera equipment in the stall and I didn’t want it to get covered in toilet water.
The toilet and I were playing a deadly game of chess and it looked like it was checkmate for me. I was trapped. The toilet had beaten me.
I’m a little embarrassed to say I didn’t even think to check if the bidet might have an off switch for like twenty minutes. Twenty loooong minutes of warm water shooting straight into me like one of those giant hydraulic mining hoses that miners used to erode the cliffs at Malakoff Diggins.
In my defense though, there wasn’t exactly a big button that said, “Off,” or anything. Just weird symbols and Japanese kanji.
My first guess was to just push the bidet button again. So I pressed it and… nothing happened. Then I noticed there were like two other bidet buttons. The first of the two looked exactly the same as the button I'd already pressed, but had different writing. Not that I could read either. The second was a symbol of a legless lady riding a pimply butt. Iiiiiiiiiiii decided to go with the first one.
I pressed it but instead of stopping, the water changed from a “pee-stream” like consistency to a “water fountain” kind of consistency. Which was nice? I suppose? But not quite was I was looking for.
So then I pressed the one with the lady. I was preeeety sure it wasn’t going to stop the bidet. In fact, I was pretty sure it would… Aaaaand, yep! It started spraying my balls.
Better, uh… better press the first button again. I guess. Because, like, four or five for minutes of this and I'm going to get upset.
I went through all the different buttons. There was like three different “flush” buttons- Buttons to change the temperature of the toilet seat (From room temperature to “HOLY SHIT! WHO WOULD EVER WANT THE TOILET SEAT THIS HOT?!”). It had a little button that would spray deodorizer GOD KNOWS WHERE. It had a button with a music note on it that played weird electronic jingles so that, like, no one will think you're pooping. (But, like, if you press it, won’t everyone KNOW you're pooping??? The paradoxes of this ancient and mysterious land.)
Finally there was just one button left. It didn’t look like an “off” button. It didn’t actually look like anything and “anything” is just what could happen if I pressed this button. It could take a picture of me on the toilet and share it on Instagram. The toilet could turn into a transformer and run off with me on top. A panel on could drop down on the wall exposing me to a group of Japanese school girls who would start giggling and pointing at me.
But there were literally no other buttons that I could press. It was either see what’s behind door number one or live the rest of my life on the super toilet.
So, I pressed it aaaaaand…. it stopped!
And then I walked out of the toilet stall like nothing had ever happened, and no one was the wiser.
But at least my backside was really clean.