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japanese meetings and toilets
By Dennis Batchelder 30 March 1998

hi guys:

i just completed my meeting in tokyo, and am sitting in the club lounge at Narita. only 2 hours to go before the next flight. isn't international transferring a blast?

these guys have a hard time knowing when you're asking them a question, and when you're just talking to them. i'd ask a question during the presentation, and all i'd get back was blank looks. i found the best way to combat that was to just shut up and wait for them to respond. eventually, (after about 60 seconds of dead silence with me smiling at them) the interpreter would get nervous, whisper something to the people, and ask me to
repeat the question. THEN i'd get answers, and lots of them!

now about the toilets. i have travelled to europe, and "enjoyed" seeing a different toilet at every pit stop. over there, the fun is figuring out how to flush. but HERE, it's figuring out how to go. i've enclosed a picture to explain (hope you all don't get grossed out).

they don't supply toilet paper here - what you do is buy a packet of tissues (or if you're lucky enough, some shop as you walk by gives you a package 
with their advertising all over it). i did not know this when my time came. in fact, i did not know what i was in for.

so i waited in line (itself an experience - people cutting you off - i guess self-proclaimed emergencies take precedence), and got a real big surprise when i stepped in the stall. it was too late to back out then!

fortunately, the guy before me forgot his tissues. it took me about 60 seconds of staring at this hole in the floor to figure out what i was supposed to do. take a look at the picture - you're supposed to squat facing to the right. did i know this? nope. i squatted facing to the left. thought that that thing on the left was a pee guard.

funny thing is - i didn't know that i could even squat. i guess it's true - necessity is the mother of invention. when you gotta go, you learn fast! so
i walked out, feeling exhilarated that i had conquered asian toilets, and went to tell latif of my new-found expertise. at which time he laughed and laughed, then informed me that i had squatted backwards, like sitting on the john backwards at home (imagine what that would look like)!

well, now a much humbler person has learned. learned to carry tissue, learned how to squat, and learned which way to face.

that's all for now. thought you'd all like a bit of culture, and something to laugh at!


japanese meetings and toilets - japan