I just took my EMP (TM & © 2006, Grace) and realized that I'm no longer disturbed by the heated toilet seat. What previously gave me that weird feeling of sitting down on a vinyl chair after someone else has just gotten up from it now feels pretty good. Especially on a cold morning like this.
What I'm still too scared to try out, though, is the built-in bidet in these crazy-ass toilet seat contraptions. There are a gazillion settings, more so than on any car's intermittent wipers. There's some swirly motion, on/off/on/off, high-powered jet. They all scare me. Maybe I'll work up the nerve to try it one drunken night, but for now, the only thing I allow to tickle my privates is my girlfriend. And even then, she doesn't play in the Danger Zone. Oh well, at least they're not using those hole-in-the-ground toilets anymore.
Now normally, I'd warm up with a shower after my EMP (that's early morning poo, if you haven't figured it out), but here, showers are taken at night. Presumably so you don't mess up your bedding. This is logical, but the main purpose of my showers isn't to get clean, but to wake my lazy ass up. But I guess the Japanese style of bathing is too complicated for bleary-eyed mornings. See, the shower isn't over or in the tub. It's separate from it. You generally get a little wash bucket and stool, hose yourself down with water, then lather yourself up. Scrub. Shampoo. Condition. Exfoliate. Whatever. Then rinse yourself totally clean. Then you remove the cover from the tub, where there's already a load of hot water waiting for you to take a soak. That's because you keep reusing the same bath water for days. You wash first so you enter it clean, and you simply sit in the bath to soak your aching bones. This may be a bit hard for westerners to get used to, but now that I'm in the routine, I'm digging it. It's almost ritualistic, the cleansing aspect, and then relaxing in the tub for as long as you like before going to bed is really, really, really nice. I think I've got enough of a hang of the routine to go hit up an onsen or ohuro (hot spring or public bath) in all my fat, hairy, naked glory without committing any faux pas.
Besides the bathroom, little else is all that different in Japanese homes. Most doors slide instead of swing - likely an evolution of the wood-and-paper doors of the days of yore. And of course, most traditional households have tatami (woven reed) flooring, which is more comfortable on shoe-less feet than hardwood or tile. Upon the tatami in the bedroom is a futon, often without a pillow. People have often wondered why I'm so comfortable crashing out on the floor without a pillow, well, there's your answer. It's in my blood. That and I can do anything when I'm that drunk.
There's a multitude of stuff outside of home that's well different from anything in the States. But I'll save that for another post. I hear stirring downstairs, which means I can get up and have coffee. That and I have to pack for the next leg of the trip. Shikoku is calling.