Inku
Japan Society of Fairfield County

Culture Watch, Society Watch (12)
by Dr. Ikuko Anjo Jassey

      Unlike some American women, Japanese women surely and carefully wash vegetables and fruits before consuming them. As for me, I even wash packaged veggies called "ready-to-serve" and packaged poultry. I know it might be too much. But I do. So, when a salad that is prepared with unwashed vegetables is served, I try my best to swallow it.  Also, in Japan I have never seen women who do not wash their hands after using a bathroom. However, as far as I observe at public places in this country, perhaps four out of ten do not clean their hands, especially when nobody is around. (I do not hear the sound of running water!) Thus, it seems that Japanese are truly hygiene-conscious.
      Also, Japanese people almost never go to bed without bathing unless they are sick.  Why so?  We love to be relaxed in the warm water, soaking up to the chin after washing and rinsing our body, and for us it is celestial to lay our refreshed body on the sun-dried (not dried with a drying machine) and sun-sterilized "clean" sheets. Not only people but also train windows, regardless of local commuter trains or bullet trains, are almost always transparently clean, no dust or no trace of rain drops. And yet, compared to twenty-years ago, streets, train stations, or inside trains are not so clean as before any more; we often see tobacco butts, trash, empty cans and bottles scattered or left behind. What about public toilets? Public toilets at railway stations have never been very clean unfortunately, especially when they are Japanese style toilets, which is apparently difficult to keep clean because of its style. Nonetheless, toilet facilities observed in Japan are super in terms of its technology.
      Within these ten years, my husband and I stayed at what you call "top-class" hotels, such as The Plaza Hotel and the New York Palace in New York City, the Fairmont in Quebec and in Ottawa, or paradores in Spain; however, we have not yet come across a "fancy" toilet as seen in Japan.  On the other hand, in my parents' house, which was built thirty years ago in the countryside, a western style toilet with a heated seat for winter use has been sitting in their bathroom for more than a quarter of a century. (Regardless of where you live in Japan, in urban or rural areas, almost all houses, old or new, do not have a central heating system.  Therefore, you can imagine how much a heated seat would be appreciated in the freezing season.) Also, my friend, who bought a condominium looking over the Yokohama Bay Bridge and Mt. Fuji far away, has been using a toilet with a heated seat, a noise canceling device, a cleansing stream of warm water, a bidet, an air dryer, and a deodorizer, for twenty-five years. The toilet came with the condominium.  What you need to do is just to select and press a button, based on your need. My sister's house in downtown Tokyo is not an exception. If you want to experience these gadgets for fun, go to a good restaurant or a good hotel in Japan. Surely, you will feel very clean!
      According to TOTO, a well-known toilet company, sixty percent of Japanese households, including restaurants and hotels have been equipped with a toilet, more or less, with these features. So, as one of the Japanese people who are interested in hygiene, I am now reading a catalogue to find a best-fit toilet for my family. Let me read the feature "Massage Washing" in the book: "The nozzle moves like cycling motion automatically." Do we need water massages? Naaah. Now, would you like me to read the next feature "Self-Cleaning System"? It says, "The nozzles are cleaned automatically before and after each use."  Great! You don't have to be worried about the hygiene of those nozzles themselves.  If you have a chance, try and feel the new gadgets by all means. Despite the fact that people at times make light of it, cleanliness is after all a basis of a healthy and comfortable life.

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