Monthly Archives: November 2013

Japan Does It Better 2: Public Toilets

Japanese washlet toiletIf you know me at all, you know that I haaaaaaaaaate public bathrooms. They are always dirty, the toilet paper is often 1-ply, there is no privacy (Why are the cracks between the stall big enough for people to see in?!), washing your hands becomes futile because you still have to touch the faucet and the door unless there is a fancy automatic shut-off and unless you wait for someone to come along and open the door for you!

Yep, it’s all gross. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

So imagine my bathroom-phobic surprise when I walked into my first public Japanese bathroom (in Kyoto back in 2008) and saw this:traditional Japanese toiletI almost had a panic attack.

I mean, what do you even do???

Why didn’t someone warn me???

Thankfully, in Tokyo, most of the toilets are “Western style” (the kind that I am used to here in the States). Many even have a bank of fancy and confusing buttons…so many buttons, in fact, that sometimes flushing the toilet can be challenging. (Which button is it?) Japanese washlet buttons

The buttons are all part of the washlet–a bidet-like contraption fitted into the toilet seat. Washlets are in most of the public bathrooms and private homes in modern Tokyo. Most of the washlets include a seat warmer and a deodorizer, too. Some, like the one at the top of this post, have a music button you can push and it plays a little tune or water noises to give you a little privacy and drown out any…ahem…bathroom noises. In some public washrooms, the music/water noises start automatically. I’m a big fan of the music…I don’t want to know what’s going on in the stalls around me.

And you know the little paper seat covers that are in some (nicer) American public bathrooms? Many Tokyo bathrooms have these, too. And if they don’t, they have this:Japanese toilet seat sanitizer

It’s sanitizer for the seat! You just squirt some on a piece of toilet paper, wipe down the seat and it’s clean and ready to use. Genius, no?

Clearly, when it comes to public bathrooms, Japan Does It Better!

(In case you missed the beginning of this series, click here.)


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Beginning a Quiet November…

caricatures, kimberly and naotoThis weekend, Naoto and I attended a Forest Park Community Garden fundraiser–the 2nd Annual Apple Pie Bake-Off. We did not bake a pie but we did eat the delicious pies in the competition. We had another fun night mingling with our fellow gardeners, having caricatures drawn (isn’t Naoto’s adorable?), goofing around in the photo booth and bidding on silent auction items. Naoto proudly walked away the winner of an hour lecture by a PhD. Our topic? Whiskey. I’m very excited to invite some friends over for a little whiskey tasting and lecture next month.

The Honor Flight Chicago season also ended last week, with our final flight of 2013 on Wednesday and our volunteer appreciation party on Friday night. As much as I’m going to miss my fellow volunteers this winter, I am looking forward to settling into the fall, finally, and preparing for a (hopefully) quiet holiday season. This week is light on responsibilities so I’m determined to get my Thanksgiving invitations made and get a jump start on holiday preparations around here. That means cleaning the spare room (the chore that never ends) and finding some art to hang on that pesky dining room wall… There’s nothing like a holiday to get you in the mood to work on your neglected home making skills!

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Spooky Saturday: Halloween Letter Social

Royal typewriterLast Saturday was Halloween themed. After the Casket Races on Saturday morning, I went to a Halloween Letter Social at Pieritz Bros. The Letter Writers Alliance once again teamed up with everyone’s favorite office supply store to host letter writing and typewriter typing. I used that festive orange number up above…it typed like a dream in a lovely cursive and I was able to crank out three letters during the social. LWA Letter Socialinks at Pieritz BrosThanks to the Halloween Mail Art Workshop, the Letter Social, and a letter writing cram session on Monday morning, I have almost caught up on my correspondence. Almost. Halloween Mail ArtHalloween Mail ArtHalloween Mail ArtI used some of my vintage postage, but I really loved the look of the Johnny Cash stamp on the black envelopes.

It feels good to be participating in the world of mail again. Presley on mail

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