Saturday, February 17, 2007

Japan is fantastic, part ni thru…

This post comes to you after having had a horrid, horrid week…in a sort of ridiculous- OH-MY-GOD-can-this-get-any-worse- do-I-really-have-a-flat-tire-after-all-that-I-have-already-suffered-???? sort of way. I’m sure I’ll write about it at some point. But first, the unfinished business of Japan.
Having said my piece about the sheer joy of my repeated encounters with heated toilet seats while in Japan recently, allow me to pick up where I left off in my list of all things wonderful about my trip. Now where was I…

Oh yes, the bathroom. Of course.

As if a warm bum weren’t enough to bring pure bliss to the already satisfying experienc
e of expelling unneeded bodily waste, the Japanese thought of one additional thing to, if nothing else, entertain you while in the restroom. Allow me to introduce you to:

Ni: The Bidet, digitally remasteredNow, the bidet is not a new concept. I’ve certainly seen my fair share in Latin-America, not to mention in the bathroom of my anal retentively clean grandmother. (No pun intended.) But THIS one went above and beyond the usual bone-chilling squirt to the perineum. First of all, it wasn’t cold at all. It was the perfect temperature. And second of all, it wasn’t just a water rinse. On the contrare, there was a warm rinse followed by an apricot-scented sudsy episode followed by another warm rinse. The only thing missing was an automated arm to pat me dry. But not to worry, I put that suggestion in the ideas box just outside the bathroom door.

In between my long, luxurious rests in the various bathrooms of Japan (you now understand why), I did manage to squeeze in a few hours of sightseeing a day. And my my my if there weren’t sights to see in Tokyo.

San: Neon
The Japanese looooooooooooove them some Neon. I’m talking Neon approaching levels which could provoke seizures in even the most cataract-protected 80 year old Vegas stripper. And that’s serious neon. It was magnificent in the sense that I now know what it’s like to be on the inside of a pinball machine.

Shi: Vending machines.
I came to the conclusion that perhaps the only thing that the Japanese valued more than neon was the ability to quench their thirst (or their itch for a cigarette) any time of day or night that they wanted. This, I concluded after taking notice of the fact that there seemed to be vending machines about every ten feet. And I’m not talking just in the city center…even in the small residential neighborhoods, in between the houses, on the corners, in the bathrooms. (Ok, not really in the bathrooms...though that would be one more nice thing about them if it were true!) And they were always stocked with an assortment of sugary soft drinks, beer, and cigarettes. I daresay that if we vended such addiction hazards to our country’s youth without so much as an ID check, we’d have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, and smoking. Oh wait. We already do. (Which begs the question, why don’t the Japanese?)

Go: Unrecognizable food

Boiled starchy items. Pink gelatinous balls. Bento boxes-to-go with various selections of edible matter that have clearly either been popped out of a mold or stamped out of a sheet of mushed-together digestible substances. Interesting. Verrrrry interesting.

Roku: Flat booties
By and large, or more appropriately stated, by and small, the Japanese have absolutely NO junk in the trunk. Which is to say that I stood out like a sore thumb. Or a sore bum, rather. Which I was ok with. It just meant I had to be realistic about the potential for shopping for jeans in that country….that potential being zero.

Shichi: Deep tradition
Coming from a culture that has it’s own traditions, I could really appreciate this. And, in fact, this is what I loved most about my trip to Japan. While the heated toilet seats were lovely, the beauty and the richness of the history in the country was my favorite thing about Japan. Nothing, not even The Brit’s insistence on playing and replaying of the soundtrack to The Last Samurai (I’ve mentioned his love of movie scores before, haven’t I?), could take away from this.

A very lovely trip. Thanks, to my dear Brit, who made it happen! (And who also took most of these pics!)


Waspgoddess said...

I remember that toilet control centre from a program I once watched about Japanese toilets. I've fantasising ever since. V envious that you got to try it...

Love the images of the temples and the beautiful clothes, less keen on the idea of gelatinous balls and weird starchy stuff.

Still wishing for comb-overs...

Ps. My mushroom hair has of course nothing to do with the much later and even more miserable experience with Mr Mushroom head.

Anonymous said...

Yes....I concur with waspgodess....nice pics!

Funnily enough I am yet to try the advanced toilet features even though I been soo many times. Just enjoy the heated seat

Still got to love the tiny bars above all else though ;)