Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Toilet Doors

Wow! It's been ages since I've posted about toilets - the squat loos, the hi-tec loos, the toilet slippers that are provided, the lack of soap, the annoying flushing noise piped out to hide the fact that I'm peeing, etc BUT I finally understand something:

I always wondered WHY people knocked on my toilet door when I was in a cubicle. It just made no sense and irritated me a bit, if I'm going to be honest. Pressure and all that! Anyway the answer came to me in the form of a student yesterday.

Quite simply, in Japan it is wrong to leave the toilet door open when you are not in there, so they genuinely have no idea if someone is in the cubicle or not. Of course, common sense says look at the lock: is it red? Well, there's probably someone in there, isn't there?

Apparently this is all about Japanese people seeing toilets as 'unclean' areas and so hiding them away. Or something.

It does feel odd though to me as in most countries an open toilet door means the toilet is available and a closed door, well.

They hygiene thing here IS odd though if you take into account the lack of soap in many/most public toilets, the sneezing into a newspaper / hand / face cloth, etc that goes on.

I still don't understand why so many of my students try and shut the classroom door when they leave though.

Or why toilet slippers are in such disgusting colours.


Anonymous Alex Case said...

Didn't think about the cleanliness connection, but not convinced it is always politeness or practicality- when there is a red thing showing you it is engaged it must be to make you hurry up. Have dealt with toilets extensively on my new(ish) blog JapanExplained

3:21 pm

Anonymous Alex Case said...

Oh, and also worked out the slipper thing after much thought- it's to make them so disgusting that you both don't want to run off with them and notice the fashion faux pas instantly when you wander out the toilet with them because they are so instantly identifiable as one of the many other types of slipper you might be given wherever you are.

9:01 pm


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