Since a childhood visit to Mount Vernon, my favorite euphemism for the bathroom has been the necessary. Upon mentioning this term, several friends have been quick to point out that even a bathroom is, perhaps, not essential. Raised in a backpacking family, I quickly concede the point.
This trip has made me particularly thankful to my parents for teaching me to pee in the woods. No, I have not relieved myself on any Japanese mountainsides or anywhere other than a bathroom, for that matter. But my backpacking squatting skills have been helpful in my use of Japanese toilets (see exhibit A).
Yes, Carly and I have officially mastered the Japanese toilet. After initial trepidation (the advice not to wear pantyhose when first learning is sound advice, we think), we have embraced (at least accepted) this new cultural experience. If one was able to earn merit badges in such things, the use of a Japanese style toilet on a recent train ride on a bumpy, swaying train should qualify us.
Nonetheless, the English style toilets in Japan manage to out-class me. Seat warmers. With adjustable temperature control. And a button that produces music to cover any tinkling sound. What else do people think others are doing in there?