Ive been living in Japan for almost 2 months now and even though I have gotten used to many of the people's quirks and the country's oddities and niceties there are some that I found so fascinating that I still rejoice every time I come across one. Im afraid Im going to have to talk about toilets for a bit here. Now, I've never been to another Asian country so I dont know if others have this notion of heated toilet seats that are popular in Japan. Before coming I was warned that most japanese toilets are "squattie potties" meaning a kind of hole in the ground you pee into, and that I dreaded very much. On the contrary, however, toilets in japan are not all squatties, there is a good mix of both western style toilets and eastern "holes". But I was not as prepared for the unexpected pleasure of a heated normal western toilet. You may or may not know it but when u sit on a toilet seat on a cold day your body braces itself for a cold seat; when, however, you sit and your exposed flesh meets perfectly warmed ceramic or plastic the pleasure is very primally indescribable. Lucky for me both the apartments Alex and I stay at have these heated seats that I discovered about a month after arriving. Since most japanese home do not have central heating or any sort of good insulation here, the pleasure of a heated seat is doubled when everything else is cold and you dread pulling your pants down at all. I do still guess and get my hopes up whenever we are somewhere public. I always wonder if the place wil have a hole or a seat. Ive come to the conclusion that most "nice places" like big department stores have western public toilets, which are sometimes heated. When you are in a random little restaurant do not get your hopes up...still I have been surprised. This is definitely not a rule but more of a generalization. When I was at a community center in the middle of nowhere I expected a hole, instead there was a respectable toilet. One dance studio I was at was equipped with a pretty decorated toilet with heated seat and all. Another studio, no less nice, had a hole.
One thing that is a bit annoying and uniting in all these toilets is the fact that you have to change your slippers, when you go in. Almost every toilet has a special designated pair of toilet slippers, so you leave your house slippers at the door and put on the toilet ones, do your business and before you leave change your slippers back. (Many places you enter in Japan you have to take your street shoes off and put on the slippers provided, or your own.) So this works fine when you have slippers on but when you have dance shoes on, for example, that take about 30 seconds each to fasten and unfasten, it becomes a bit inconvenient. I shouldnt complain though. Its really a high degree of etiquette.