At First I Thought Japan Was Against Having Clean Balls. Now I Don’t Know What to Think.

Abby and I traveled safely to and from Japan, despite flinging ourselves across the Pacific Ocean – TWICE – in a tin can suspended 30,000 feet above the Earth, which feels a lot like a miracle.

Abby and I LOVED Japan. We did. We had a blast doing all the Usual Tourist Things.

We went to the Fish Market on a bicycle tour.

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We did yoga in the rain. 

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We did identical dance poses. 

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It all worked out really well because the Japanese are into conformity and not making public spectacles out of themselves, so we fit in perfectly.

But our very best thing — the thing at which we excelled greatly — was Going Potty.

In fact, we liked going potty so much, we went every day while we were in Japan. Sometimes more than once.

Going Potty is, of course, the Very Best Tourist Thing of All because pottying teaches us a lot about other cultures and adaptation and, well, it can’t be avoided, so it’s really the place where we MUST assimilate, you know? It’s the place we wholeheartedly strive to become quickly proficient. After all, no one wants to return from an international trip and say, “Yeah. Japan was good, but you know what I never got the hang of? Relieving myself.” 

We learned A LOT about Japanese culture from the potties.

For example, Japan is a very technologically advanced culture, and their potties reflect that.

We’ve been introduced to warm potties and gadgety potties and potties that sense your weight before warming the water for the built-in bidet.

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 And speaking of bidets, there are OPTIONS for those, folks.

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 Of course, you’ve got your usual bottom-washing bidet (which is what “shower” means, FYI (you only make that mistake once)), and, for the ladies, a special lady-bits bidet.

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 A whole separate bidet for lady parts!

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 It made me happy to see it, I’ve gotta say, until I started wondering where the bidet is for the boy bits.

I mean, sure; boys can wash their bottoms like the girls, but say they want to clean their boy parts. They’re out of luck. There’s no bidet for those. NONE. NO boy-washing options at all, which, given the number of other options available seems like either a gross oversight or… and I hate to go here, but I feel I must… deliberate. 

I mean, in a culture that is rampantly detail-oriented and extremely precise, I can’t imagine they simply forgot the boys.

In conclusion, I’m not sure why Japan is against men washing their balls, but the evidence is pretty conclusive.

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P.S. Given the anti-balls potties all over Tokyo, I figured Japan must be very discriminatory when it comes to gender, but then I saw this bathroom sign…

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…which doesn’t split up potty-users by gender at all, instead dividing toilet-goers by People Who Are Shaped Like Bells and People Who Are Shaped Like Suitcases, which, on the one hand feels very progressive, allowing any gender to use either water closet, but on the other hand feels pretty judgmental. “HEY, YOU! YOU RESEMBLE LUGGAGE. GET OUT OF THE BELL RESTROOM, STAT.”

Now I don’t know what to think. 

P.P.S. I know, like all Americans, I’m particularly gifted at correctly interpreting other cultures and not seeing them through the lens of my own bias, but if you have any other interpretations to share, I’m willing to hear you out. 

P.P.P.S. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t fit in well with other Christian bloggers. Then I write about whether Japan does or does not support clean balls, and I don’t wonder as much anymore. #LifeIsAMystery #AndThenItIsnt 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
13 comments
  1. We lived in a rural bit of Japan for almost three years and there were far more “hole in the floor” potties (affectionately known as squatty potties) than fancy ones. My daughter ranged from 1 to 4 while we were there and I must say it is VERY difficult to potty train a girl in rural Japan. I would either have to strip her from the waist down (because there is no way she could “span” the squatty potty with her pants around her knees) or I would have to hold her in a crouched position over the potty so that my hands effectively became the potty seat. It wasn’t pleasant and led to many, many baby wipes. I know the second option is hard to picture, but let me assure you, it is even harder to do!

  2. Stop it with the identical dance poses. Made me laugh. Thanks for the caption so we knew which one was you;)

  3. I had my first encounter with these a couple weeks ago. There’s a lovely sushi joint in Portland that has those fancy potties in the restroom. I’ve always seen them when we shop at HMart and other Asian stores, but they’re just on display, not in the actual restrooms. Anyhow, I couldn’t NOT try out all the bells and whistles when I got the chance.

    Oh, I have never ever wished for a girlfriend to giggle with in the bathroom more than that night. It was hilarious and awkward and I started laughing uncontrollably and snorted out loud and had to stifle myself in my stall when someone else came into the bathroom. Let me just say that after birthing babies, it’s a good thing I was sitting on the potty while I silently rocked in laughter. I needed to use the bidet all over again when I calmed down.

  4. So. Hilarious! Now I’m going to spend the rest of the day contemplating potties. And strangely, that’s not something I usually do.

    However, what got me to comment was your PPPS. I love that while you classify yourself a Christian blogger, you aren’t all up in your grill Christian. I found you when a friend shared the infamous pooping in the closet post and I haven’t looked back. I’m not Christian. And that’s just as ok as you being Christian. It’s just sorta one of those things about me that shapes how I might experience things, but isn’t all there is to me. I see the same in you, too. So, while I’m glad (selfishly) you don’t fit in with the others, you fit in with me. (And, y’know, the other thousands of people who love you.) Rock on!

  5. I’m wondering, if with all the bells and whistles included on Japanese potties…if they might have gender specific potties?? Maybe the potties you saw only had lady-bit bidets because you were in the ladies bathroom. Maybe the boys’ bathroom has the potties for cleaning the boy parts?? I think you should go back to Japan (and take me with you, OBVIOUSLY) and go into all the suitcase’s bathrooms to see if they have a blue bidet button for washing boy things. I’m sure the Japanese men won’t mind – as long as it us in the name of research!!

  6. I mean, logistically speaking, couldn’t the lady bits option be used for the boy bits too?

  7. I think I love your blog even more now you’re writing about Japanese balls… and not the bouncy kind which I thought it might have been before I read…. (though my brain did go to the right place first! That is why I love you!)

  8. Did you get to experience the floor in the hole potties in Japan as well? I was very much an Amerucan tourist and HAD to take pictures of the different kinds of potties. I also LOVED traveling to Japan

    1. I meant hole in the floor. Apparently I’ve turned into a Mombie.

      1. Apparently I’m a mombie too because I read that as hole in the floor and had to go back and read it TWICE to figure out why in the world you were correcting yourself! Lol.

        1. lol ditto here… I thought to myself, ‘what’s wrong? what needs correcting??’ AND I love the word Mombie!! that’s sooo me! I keep on thinking baby brain must be going soon – my youngest is 9 now…. but it would seem not….!!

  9. Japan’s bathtroom culture is like no other! I go through withdrawal when we travel back to the U.S.

  10. I love you.

    That is all.

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