It’s widely known that Japan is a clean country. Not a rubbish in sight and better still, very few rubbish bins. Yet, the streets are void of tissues, plastic bags and cigarette butts that are littered everywhere in Singapore despite our crew of foreign cleaners.
Most rubbish bins are found next to vending machines. They are not just for rubbish. One needs to think very carefully where to dispose of one’s litter. Just finished your bottle of drink? PET bottle into one bin but the cap into another please. Combustible or non-combustible? Asked another bin.
Toilet is another source of amazement for me. Leave it to the Japanese to invent electronic toilets. These toilets are ubiquitous that even my cheap hostel at Fuji Kawaguchi has them. They were only missed at my Ryokan at Takayama.
I must declare – I simply love these toilets. At my hotel in Narita, the moment your cold ass hits the seat – warmed by a heating element somewhere – draining water is heard, lest you make any embarrassing sounds while going about your business. Once done, pressed the bidet button at the side for a wash, but not before the button for cleaning the spray head lights up. You don’t want others’ residues to be spraying at you. For ladies, there is a separate button for other parts.
Not everyone is made the same. So, you can opt for a stronger spray or change the position – front or back. Once done, press the dryer for a blast of warm air to dry. No paper needed at all. How green can one get?
At Jasco Store, once you enter the cubicle, a sensor will start the recording for soothing water sound. Sometimes, instead of running water, it’s music – loud enough to mask out whatever sound one is expected to make while in a loo.
Isn’t Japan a paradoxical society? Strangers can bathe together without embarrassment, watch porn on hotel TV, yet is expected to be embarrassed by the sound they make in the toilet.
At our ryokan, Mike took the boys for a communal bath. Shy at first, they gradually grew to like it. As for me, I am so glad it was low season in the ryokans we visited. On the first ryokan, I took the quickest shower I could, all the while keeping my eyes on the door, until I realised there was actually a private shower room I could have used. So in the next ryokan, I asked for a private shower room. The owner told me just to lock the door.
These were indeed an eye-opener for us all.