Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Japanese toilets & other toilet cultures

Toilet culture and Toilet talks

Toilet and culture, what the two incomparable words. Toilet, is a plumbing fixture primarily intended for the disposal of human excreta: urine and fecal matter. Toilet is the word involving the excretion from the human body, either urine or feces. The waste product from digestive system discharge from anus during defecation. It is something involves with something dirty, unhygienic matter or smell bad. Culture, is the word which means the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group; in short the social practices. Culture is relating to something of high esteem, positive and good , or smell better. The two words combined together is “Toilet Culture”, the social practices of discharging of urine or feces, what a smelly words……..

The name of Toilets
There are many names for toilet, the word toilet actually describes the fixture. But in British English, it is the room which included the fixture, so it is commonly called toilet in commonwealth countries where British English is used. The American English called it rest room . Lavatory, Loo, WC(Water Closet), CR ( Comfort Room, used commonly in the Philippines), The Dunny is an Australian expression for an outside toilet or outhouse, The Privy is an old fashioned term used more in the North of England and in Scotland; "privy" is an old alternative for "private", as in Privy council, The netty is the most common word used in the North East England, and Latrine is a term common in the military, specifically for the Army and Air Force for any point of entry facility where human waste is disposed of, which a civilian might call a bathroom or toilet, regardless of how modern or primitive it is.

Types of Toilets
Prior to the introduction of modern flush toilets, most human waste disposal took place outdoors in outhouses or latrines . The simplest toilet is Pit toilets, or pit latrines, are the cheapest type, minimally defined as a hole in the ground. Normally two wooden planks will be added on the hole for squatting. A flush toilet is a toilet that disposes of human waste by using water to flush it through a drainpipe to another location. Flushing mechanisms are found more often on western toilets (used in the sitting position or sitting toilet), but many squat toilets also are made for automated flushing. A squat toilet is a toilet used by squatting, rather than sitting. There are several types of squat toilets, but they all consist essentially of a hole in the ground.

In modern days, toilets are divided in gender line, man and woman.

Japanese Toilets & Technology toilets

I always think that western toilet is the most advance and clean, and Asian toilets are dirty; until I saw Japanese toilets or Technology toilets of Japan. When you see the toilets in Japan, you will amaze at the effort Japanese put on the technology to do their toilet business....

Japanese toilets are very advance, sometime you really need to learn how to use it. There are two types of toilets in Japan: "Japanese style" and "Western style".

"Japanese style"(和式, washiki) toilet is a squat toilet—also known as the Asian toilet. A shallow trough collects the waste.. All other fixtures, such as the water tank, piping, and flushing mechanism, may be identical to those of a Western toilet. Flushing causes water to push the waste matter from the trough into a collecting reservoir which is then emptied, with the waste carried off into the sewer system. The flush is often operated in the same manner as a Western toilet, though some have pull handles or pedals instead.

Japanese toilets have two kinds of flush: "small" (小) and "large" (大). The difference is in the amount of water used. The former is for urine (in Japanese, literally "small excretion") and the latter for feces ("large excretion"). The lever is often pushed to the "small" setting to provide a continuous covering noise for privacy

Two variations are common: one where the toilet is level with the ground, and the other where it is raised on a platform approximately 30 cm (1 ft). The latter is easier to use for men to urinate while standing, but both types can be used for this purpose. There is also no difference for defecation or squatting urination. The user stands over the squat toilet facing the hood and pulls down (up in the case of skirts) their trousers and underwear to the knees. The user then squats over the hole, as close to the front as possible, as excrement tends to fall onto the rear edge of the in-floor receptacle if the user squats too far back; for this reason many public squat toilets have signs reminding the user to "Please take one step closer."

The standard flush toilet used worldwide is known in Japan as a Western-style (洋式 yōshiki) toilet. Western-style toilets, including high tech toilets, are now more common in Japanese homes than the traditional squat toilets, though some older apartments retain stickers on the toilet or in its room illustrating the proper way to use it for urination and defecation. While most public facilities such as schools, temples, and train stations are often equipped with only squat toilets, in their own homes, Japanese people prefer being able to sit, especially older or physically disabled individuals for whom prolonged squatting is physically demanding or uncomfortable.
Western-style flush toilets in Japan commonly include water-saving features such as the ability to choose between a "big" flush and a "little" flush. Many toilets also route the water to fill the tank through a faucet over the tank allowing users to rinse their hands.

The modern toilet in Japan, in English sometimes called Super Toilet, and commonly known in Japanese as Washlet (ウォシュレット Woshuretto) or as warm-water cleaning toilet seat (温水洗浄便座 onsui senjō benza) is one of the most advanced types of toilet worldwide, showing a dazzling array of features. The Toto product Washlet Zoe is listed in Guinness World Records as the world's most sophisticated toilet with seven functions. However, as the model was introduced in 1997, it is now likely to be inferior to the latest model by Toto Neorest. The idea for the washlet came from abroad, and the first toilet seat with integrated bidet was produced in the United States in 1964. The age of the high-tech toilet in Japan started in 1980[6] with the introduction of the Washlet G Series by Toto, and since then the product name washlet has been used to refer to all types of Japanese high-tech toilets. As of 2002, almost half of all private homes in Japan have such a toilet, exceeding the number of households with a personal computer. While the toilet looks like a Western-style toilet at first glance, there are numerous additional features—such as blow dryer, seat heating, massage options, water jet adjustments, automatic lid opening, automatic flushing, wireless control panel, room heating and air conditioning for the room—included either as part of the toilet or in the seat. These features can be accessed by an (often wireless) control panel attached to the seat or mounted on a nearby wall

(sources: wikipedia & http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2003.html)

Commune toilets in China
Toilets in China vary, from pristine Western porcelain bowls made fresh with the addition of rose petals in the water to something not very much different from a flower bed itself. In cities, you will likely encounter almost clean, flushing in-the-ground units, and in the country, you might be forced to relieve yourself above a trough--privacy, if any, made by low, flimsy walls--maintained with regular gushes of water from a source at one end. Wherever you are, it is a near guarantee that the facilities will be smelly.
In rural places, privacy is often a luxury, even in the toilets. Some toilets are nothing but a row of holes and women take care of business together, sometimes with children, unabashedly. Don't be alarmed if curiosity in you is openly expressed, especially if you are a blonde or ginger. While stares might be upsetting or annoying, they are not at all harmful.
In the eighties, or earlier; most of the household under commune system has no luxury of private toilets, even in Beijing where I was once visiting a flat unit, their public toilet was a row of drainage or trough, where residents were squatting in a row, some reading newspapers, some smoking, and some are holding umbrella. The business is as usual day to day, there is no toilet paper, some used newspaper to clean their business, or some with water only, where the water will be pour into the drain, and washer the feces away. It was reported that the feces water will be collected to use in the vegetable farm nearby. The public toilet was the place to share news and information, like market place.
With the economic success of China, their public toilets have been improving, but you can still find the old habit died hard, the old toilet culture still exist; and in rural areas, some old toilets and commune public toilets are still available.

That is time where we were in Yunan, near Sichuan border, we have to do our business, at a rural wooden toilet with open door, and the black pigs were around the toilet, and at time the pigs will come in for surprise visit. Imagine what happen to the business still going on......

The cleanest modern Chinese public toilet I ever visited was the one in Lijiang, they even have a small TV unit for each toilet user. The toilet are inside the heritage type building, very beautiful architecture.

Wet Malaysian toilets
The most basic toilet I once used in the sixty, was at the village house in the hill of Paya Terubong, they called Cheng Gee Chang in Penang. A big hole was dug on the ground, with two wooden trunks placed on the hole for squatting. Below the wooden trunks where you squat to do business, you can see the white organism(maggots) moving among the feces floating on the pool of dirty water. The style of doing your business, is close your nose to avoid the smell, and do the business quickly, and walk out. But you must also remember to wash your anus with the water from the pails, there is no toilet paper. You need to be very careful when squatting on the wooden trunks, there was danger of falling anytime, if you did not balance well. If you are a child it is possible to drown in the feces water, or you are force to climb up from the artificial pool. The basic toilet will be closed and filled with earth after the hole is completely filled, and the land will be fertile ground for planting vegetables or fruits trees…. They practiced toilet shifting culture…..
In old Georgetown, Penang, bucket toilet system was used for the shophouses in the old city. It was before 60s, most of the shophouses in Georgetown will have a room at the rear part of the shop house used as toilet. There will be a hole with legs rest, the hole is oval shape, and under it is a bucket use to contain the feces discharged. The bucket will be collected in the morning and replaced with cleaned buckets, by City Council man, normally a vehicle that carried many buckets. The bucket system encouraged smoking in those days, people who cannot stand the smell will smoke inside the toilet, and the bucket will be filled not only human feces but also cigarettes butt s. Some even use the toilet time to read morning newspaper. There is no water, no toilet paper, most use used newspaper to clean the anus. The most interesting part of bucket system is, when you are doing business, the city council man come, it is time to change the bucket, when his hand is taking the bucket, your feces just releasing from you, at the right timing and the right place, there will be droppings on the wrong place…….. Just imagine…….

The most common toilet was the squatting toilet, when cement was used to make a oval shape , the hole then become smaller, for the washing water which may lead to river or vegetable farm or a reserve pool. Sometime there are foot rest beside the oval shape toilet unit.

Then there is a flushing system developed like the western toilet, a squatting toilet with a tank on top. And later the sitting toilet with modern flushing system was introduced. Sitting toilet was the talk of town in the country……..

The public toilet in Malaysia are mainly having combination of three types of toilets; urinal toilet, squatting toilets, and sitting toilets. In rural areas, mainly squatting toilets. The Malaysian public toilets are mainly very wet on the floor, pipes are available for washing , and dirty with uncivil minded manner of feces still remain in the bowls and not flushed; toilet papers may be on the floor; jammed and water filled toilet bowl with feces floating; damaged toilet not repair; flush system not functional, graffiti, often of a transgressive, gossippy, or low-brow humorous nature ( toilet humour) on the toilet wall, and heavily stained toilet bowl.

The worst toilet is the shop toilet, especially the shophouse restaurants or coffee shops, where the toilets are near to the kitchen they prepared for food…….

Recently I visited the toilets in Penang General Hospital, as I had bad experience in the hospital previously, my expectation was not too high for their cleanliness. To my surprise, despite being in old colonial building, the toilets are clean. The cleanliness was a total surprise for a public building...this revealed that we can changed our dirty toilet culture in the country. Not only public places, but restaurants, and coffee shops......

WTO(World Toilet Organization)

World Toilet Organization (WTO) is a global non-profit organization committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide. WTO is also one of the few organizations to focus on toilets instead of water, which receives more attention and resources under the common subject of sanitation. Founded in 2001 with 15 members, it now has 235 member organizations in 58 countries working towards eliminating the toilet taboo and delivering sustainable sanitation.

WTO was created as a global network and service platform wherein all toilet and sanitation organizations can learn from one another and leverage on media and global support that in turn can influence governments to promote sound sanitation and public health policies.

WTO is the organizer of the very successful series of World Toilet Summits and World Toilet Expo and Forum. To-date, 9 World Toilet Summits and 2 World Toilet Expo & Forum have been hosted in 10 different cities around the world. Each summit addresses the critical issues of toilet and sanitation from technologies, development, funding, to design, maintenance, social entrepreneurship, capacity building, research and various other related topics, creating massive media coverage and momentum.

WTO also declared its founding day of November 19 as "World Toilet Day" and this is now being celebrated by members all over the world. Thus increasing awareness and generating local action for better sanitation.

In 2005, WTO started the world's first World Toilet College (WTC) providing training in toilet design, maintenance, School Sanitation and Disaster Sanitation and implementation of Sustainable Sanitation systems. WTO is also one of the founding members of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSana), a coalition of 50 prominent organizations to promote sustainable sanitation systems.

(source: http://www.worldtoilet.org/)

After all, toilet culture is not all dirty work; it is clean cultural experience.....

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