Let’s play a game! It’s called, find the flush button!
This isn’t my first trip to Japan. And it’s not my first time going to the bathroom at the airport. Actually, after every flight to Japan I go to this bathroom. This specific stall. And every time I do, I completely forget how everything works. This time I almost locked myself inside with the lights off.
On the outside of this stall there are two buttons. There is a green button that says “open,” and a red button that says, “close.” Thinking this whole thing is easy to operate, I pushed the green button. The door slid open, the lights turned on and I walked in feeling like an old pro. But the door didn’t close behind me. It stayed open. Hmmm? Not seeing any other buttons, I tried to close the door manually. Every time I tried, the door just slid back open. After three tries, I decided a different approach. I reached to the outside of the bathroom stall and clicked the red button. Success! Oh wait, maybe not. The door closed alright, but the lights turned off too. What the hell? I just got off a 13 hour flight and all I wanted to do was pee!
I tried to manually open the door but it seemed locked. Oh great. So there I was. I had only been in Japan for 20 minutes and I somehow managed to lock myself in a dark bathroom before I even left the airport.
After a few tries I forcefully pulled the door open, and that’s when I found the red and green open and close buttons that were located inside the bathroom stall. They were nowhere near the door and were about 18 inches off the ground. Sorry, I mean 45cm. Who designed this bathroom?
After I finished my business, my problems weren’t over. I needed to find the flush button.
The obvious spot to look would be above the toilet, right? Okay, maybe next to the toilet? To the right, to the left, on the side, anywhere near the toilet. Nope. But there was a button labeled “flush” next to the sink. That’s a weird spot, but that must be it! Nope. That button actually flushed the sink. A sink that flushes? Uh oh, I really hope that was a sink because that’s where I washed my hands. What’s wrong with this country!? I just wanted to flush the stupid toilet!
I scanned the room and hit every button I could find (opening and closing the door again) until finally, the toilet flushed. It ended up being the flush button above a miniature sink, or an oddly located urinal on the wall adjacent to the toilet. Why did that have to be so difficult?
I find the toilet culture here in Japan a bit funny. If it’s not one of the terrifying old-school hole in the floor style toilets, it’s the new super fancy toilets with heated seats, sound effects, and automated seats. I went to the bathroom once at a restaurant and the toilet raised and lowered it’s lid and flushed twice before I even did anything. I decided to hold it in and left.
I guess I shouldn’t be anything less than surprised, Japan is the country that provided the world with the poop emoji. Don’t get me started on the poop culture here, that’s a whole other story.