09 May 2012

the rest of the Japanese bathroom post

Hey! Remember that time I wrote a post all about Japanese toilets? It turns out that it was my Dad's favorite post ever. The man is approaching 60 and his humor remains firmly in 6th grader territory. (Incidentally, it's one of my favorite things about him.) This is the follow up post on the rest of the bathroom that I meant to write, oh, weeks ago. I wanted to catch you up because the magic (and smart engineering) definitely extends beyond the toire. But, to begin this tour, we start in the kitchen.

I know. Crazy. Hang with me for a sec.

See this? This is the remote control for our water heater. This is also where you can press a button and fill up the bathtub. That's right: FROM THE KITCHEN. You pick the temperature and hit autofill. Then, a minute later, you hear a little song, a voice announces that the tub is filling, you hear the water begin to run. The Japanese are bad ass mother fuckers. (Well, except for the fact that you still have to walk back to the tub to close the drain so the tub actually fills. We *might* have learned this the hard way.)

Okay, now that the tub is filling, let's have a look-see-loo at the rest of the space.

With the WC being separate and down the hall, the Japanese bathrooms have a bit of a different 'mix.' This bathroom is all about cleaning. Cleaning your body, your face, your teeth, your clothes. Yup, the washer and dryer are most definitely in here too. I'm, honestly, not a fan of the Japanese laundry machines, but that's a story for another time. The placement though? Perfect. In addition to easily tossing clothes into the basin before I hop in the shower, I can put towels in the dryer so they are all pipping hot and soft when I step out. I am one to stop and enjoy the little luxuries, you know?

Beyond the washer, we have the regular ol' sink, counter, and storage. Same old, same old. We picked a place with lots of bathroom storage because I have a husband who buys Costco size containers of Irish Spring soap right before we move abroad. (His take: He did the math, and it was a great price. My take: Holy shit, do you know how long it'll take us to go through that much soap?)

The best part of this bathroom, though, is the shower room. Yes, it's an entire room. With not one, but two remote control panels. One is outside, to control the temperature of the shower room, and one is inside, to control the bath, in case you didn't want to fill it from the kitchen. The room is tiled, top to bottom, and includes room for a standing shower and the giant tub. The Japanese recommend that you shower before you get into the bath, so that way you're not swimming around in your dirt but instead just soaking in clean, clean water. (Smart.)

There are covers that fit over the tub to seal in the water and keep it warm. Traditionally, families only fill up the tub once, then everyone uses the same water, being that they get into it all spanking clean anyway. Between bathers, the panels go over the tubs to keep the water warm. True, the water might cool off a bit, but, don't fret, there's an autoheat button right there, to warm it back up to 40C, which is my preferred bath temp. Amos and I don't share bath water yet -- we're saving that for the point of marriage where we have given up ALL romance -- but I do stay in there long enough to need to "reheat" button once... or twice. (See luxury, above). I now use the covers are makeshift ironing boards (See American ingenuity, previous posts.)

The only thing that's really random about the shower room. Oh, do you see it? Yup, the crotch mirror. The Japanese sit while they bathe, on these little stools, so the mirror is face height. For Americans, and those who stand when they bathe, well... it gives an excellent image of your nether reasons. Sorry. Take comfort in the fact that it fogs up fast.

The shower room and laundry machine have a bit of a symbiotic relationship (Oh, hello, SAT vocabulary). When you're done with that warm and decently clean bathwater? There's a hose you can use to send it back to your washing machine to wash clothes with hot water, as the machine can only autofill with cold. We haven't used that yet -- our American sensibilities are offended by such blatant recycling. (Actually, we can't read the Japanese well enough to figure it out, and I have a terrible mental image of the water spilling out, all over the floor, and seeping into the downstairs neighbors' ceiling, and that just sounds way worse than clothes washed in cold water.)

After your clothes are washed in your hot bath water, you can then spread them to dry on the bars in the shower room. Just hit the fancy "dryer" button on the remote control unit outside. This is amazing. Within a couple hours, clothing is air dried, just like that, and ready to be popped back in your closet. It makes the rainy season so much more bearable, as outside drying is taking forever these days. Speaking of the rainy, muggy season here: Need to cool off the shower room before you hop in? Hit the button. Just got home and are frozen from biting cold winter? Press the heat button and heat up the room. Just finished up the shower and want to dry out the room to prevent mildew? The ventilator button, baby. I'm telling you, the Japanese folks have GOT this. I haven't taken this many baths since I was a toddler. It's amazing.

Now, about the laundry machines and how they're eating my husband's shirts...

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