Today I managed to conquer two Japanese bathroom feats, and made a discovery about one of the differences between personal hygene products between Japan and the UK. Oh, and by conquer … I just mean ‘completed a task without injury’.
The traditional Japanese toilet is possible the most difficult thing I’ve encountered in this last couple of weeks. Even more so than trying to learn kanji. Since I’m not going to go into too much detail about the workings of my digestive system, I’ll simply put it the following way. After previous failed attempts including quite harsh leg muscle ache, I finally succeeded in using the hole in the floor. There’re many sites out there that explain how to use one, so I’ll let you google the ins and outs (not literally) of how to do it. All I’ll say is if you mess it up then two possible things can happen; you could fall into the toilet or you could crap into your trousers.
Those of you who know me in the 3D world (and I’m not talking World of Warcraft) will know I much prefer showers to baths. Yes it’s true a bath has the relaxing ability to lie down, but I’d much rather get myself clean that fester in a large pot of ‘Darlo Soup’. However the Japanese bathing system differs from the pot of human goo in the fact that you do have to clean yourself before going anywhere near the bath.
After (almost) scrubbing yourself to the bone to make sure you’re clean, you head on over to the bath for a relax and a soak. Now if like my dorm the bathroom is pretty big, don’t be surprised if other people walk in and join you. Unlike the UK where bathing is a very private and solitary activity, in Japan it can be quite social. In fact in the bath tonight I was having a good chat with a guy from China discussing the differences between customs and language of the UK, Japan and China.
Now before trying a Japanese bath I was curious about perspiration. Yes, that’s an odd sentance, but wait a minute I do make sense. Baths in Japan are known for being very hot to help relax, thus this temperature would obviously make you sweat. Now remember how I started the last paragraph about being clean so you don’t muck up the bath water (it’s used by more than yourself remember). Now if you’re sweating in the tub, and presumably other people would have done the same, then when you get out the bath how can you possibly be clean? The answer is quite simple; you wash after a bath too! Yep it’s a scrub-soak-scrub system that means you leave the bath clean and refreshed.
Truth be told I still prefer a shower.
And the discovery that was made? In Japan anti-perspirant does not exist! The very expensive deodorant can cover up the smell of sweaty body (unless you go for the odourless spray from Family Mart), but there’s nothing to stop it at the source. I guess I’ll have to ask someone to send me over a can of Arid from poundland (thanks Regi).
PS – Happy Birthday Mike.