There is currently a work stoppage at the Port of Los Angeles, one of the busiest ports on the world. There is what seems like an endless line of cargo ships sitting out in the ocean with nothing to do since the union has some kind of bug up their butt about something.
But when don’t they, right?
Anyway, seeing this brought back a pleasant little memory of my dear old Dad. You see, he worked on that very port unloading ships similar to the ones that have dropped anchor due to the work stoppage. One day, I remember him taking my brother and I aboard one of the cargo ships docked on the port, a ship exporting goods from Japan.
I honestly don’t remember much of anything about that tour since I had to be no more than 5 years old. But there is one thing that sticks in my mind.
Thinking back, I can see Dad looking at us and smiling. He knew what he was up to. He led us down the hall and opened a door — to the restroom.
“Look at those! Look!” he said as he laughed.
I peeked in there and witnessed something that left me stupefied for years: the strangest toilets I had ever seen in my then-short time on this planet, a row of about 8 of them with no walls for privacy between them which made things even more awkward. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Now before you think “So what’s the big deal?” I’ll save you the trouble of doing an image search or consulting Wikipedia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the traditional Japanese toilet, as witnessed by me on board that cargo ship (courtesy this blog):
And if you think they look strange, just imagine the contortionist flexibility one must possess in order to use them. (If you must know, look up “how to use a Japanese toilet” and be…stupefied like I was for years.)
Thankfully, I hear that the toilets are no longer the norm in Japan where most places have switched to a more modern, sit-down type that would be honored to accept your waste.
This is good because when I vacation in Japan one of these days (or in my case, some lifetime), I want this simple creature comfort from home.
And if I would happen to come across a traditional one, I’m pretty sure I’ll hear Dad laughing hysterically as I stare at it, debating whether to use it or not.