Japan is renowned for various things: cuisine, transportation, cleanliness, history, politeness and so on and so forth. But by far the most underrated aspect of Japanese culture is its love affair with over-the-top toilet seats.
My understanding of this culminated in one of the more revered places of Japanese yore: Osaka Castle. So let me back track a bit to piece this together.
It’s no secret Japan loves toilets. Before you go, or even if you never intend to, there’s a wealth of knowledge, easily Google-able that will inform you.
There are apps indicating which types of toilets are nearest you. You need a roomy one? It’s all yours. You need a feminine product friendly area. I’m assuming the app is good for you ladies, too. I’ve yet to try that one…
But more so than the ubiquity of good toilets and the market for discovering them is the quality of the toilets themselves. American toilets tend to be just that toilets, and nothing more.
(Side note: I don’t mean to downplay the importance of toilets. Clean, sanitary toilets in developing countries is ridiculously important and (along with mosquito nets) can save larger amounts of lives at the moment in these places than reactionary, expensive medicines. I simply mean to highlight a different market for them.)
American rest stops are notorious for toilet uncleanliness. Sitting down on a cold, hard, urinated-upon toilet seat is perhaps the worst experience one can have in this great nation of ours. (Maybe.) Nobody wants that adhesive, cold *fwapp* of your rear end unsticking off a Sunoco toilet seat. Sorry for that imagery; it will forever stick in your mind.
Japanese toilets, however, are magic. I only scratched the surface of their complexity when in the country, and for those who scoff at the notion of how complex toilets can be, you guffaw at your own peril.
I know there are many control settings for the bidet, depending on your gender, preferred angle, favorite speed and desired pressure. That sounds gross and it is. Until you use it.
There are temperature settings, so your bum is comfy. There are fan settings to dry your bum. There’s scented options. And that’s about where I tapped out cause I didn’t really care to keep messing around with the control panel; I had to get on with my life.
So now, how does Osaka Castle play in?
One day in Japan, I found myself in Osaka, having used the absolutely wonderful mass transit system in the country. Seriously, use their trains someday, and if you’re American, your mind will be changed on its viability and practicality. It’s magnificent.
Anywho, I found myself arriving in the city rather late, and wanting to see the castle so badly, whether I got inside or not, I marched to it.
And as I began walking, the weather got brisker and windier. Nothing to fear! I had a down jacket that withstood Chicago. How bad could it get?
So I kept walking and the gusts howled by, as a I felt a cold flake catch on my cheek while a burst of warmth rushed away from my face and a cold pool of water lay still where snow once was. I stuck out my hand, and a flurry of snow whipped by. Onwards and upwards!
Then, it started to hit a bit worse. Winds whipping nearly perpendicular, snow drifting with it, and the temperature starting to lower the temperature of even duck feathers. Oh boy.
I imagined myself as an invader of centuries past, storming the impenetrable castle. Sword in hand, I looked the enemy dead in the eye and wished his blood spilled. This was my battle to win!
And then…I chilled the f*** out.
Anyways, Osaka Castle is incredible, architecturally, from the outside. The foundation is centuries’ old even if the castle itself isn’t quite. Many Japanese castles aren’t original, having once been made from wood (with wood having a pretty short life span). I was stoked I got to see it, and the super short snow storm made it that much sweeter.
However, I had to poop. And this is where we come full circle. I was desperate. I realllly had to go but had nowhere to go. I was on top of a closed Osaka Castle at 11pm at night, a half hour’s walk from the subway station I got off at, with seemingly nowhere open at that hour for a pit stop.
So I walk clear around the building until I see a rest room sign. In the US, a public restroom outdoors in a well-traveled place like that spells disaster. But I needed it badly and headed in. I was cold and tired. This was to be miserable.
That was until I saw what toilet I was to use. It was soft. It was clean. It had a plastic cover for me. There was heating. It was incredible.
Alone, in a foreign country, and in need of relieving myself, and there just so happens to be a heated toilet in a public space.
That was the moment when I realized how important quality toilets are to this world!
Have you been to Osaka Castle? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Like what you’re reading on Japan? Check out some other related articles in: The Japan Chronicles!