As we film this month in Japan, I'm starting to remember the things that I've missed most while being here. While there's things I definitely don't miss, I think it's the little things that count. Most of them have to do with bathrooms in some way, but hopefully you'll understand my love for getting my butt sprayed with warm water by the end of the article.
Here's the things I've missed most:
1. Toilets (90% For Butt Spray)
I was originally considering breaking this up into like 12 parts, because there really are that many great things about Japanese toilets, but I figured that would be cheating so I'm combining "toilets" all into one.
First off, heated seats. How many times have you sit down on your toilet and thought "damn, this is cold." Now, how often do you sit on your toilet and think "awww, so warm." A warm seat makes a big difference, and keeps you from getting the hemorrhoids.
The best thing, however, is the butt spray (oshiri button). While it may be awkward for you to hear this, there's nothing better than getting your butt washed out with warm water after you've used the bathroom. You end up using way less toilet that way, and your butt is as clean as a whistle. And, while I'm not a lady, I'd imagine the bidet is pretty nice too. Many people are scared to try these features but I'm telling you, once you do you'll never want to go back. Pretty sure I'm going to be getting myself a Toto in America next month… Can anyone say "Best Tofugu Sponsor Ever"? Your move, Toto.
2. Japanese Showers / Baths
Let's get the bathroom related stuff out of the way. I'm going to combine Japanese-style baths and showers into one section, because they kind of go together anyways (you ought to take a shower before getting in the bath, you know?). There are a few things that make Japanese style showers / baths so great.
First, the water pressure is often pretty amazing. If you're taking baths almost every day, you gotta be able to fill up that bathtub quickly. Often times the pressurizer is built into the nozzle area too. This means better pressure for you.
Also, the water can get incredibly hot. Often you'll have the option to go up to 50 degrees Celsius. That's 122 degrees Fahrenheit! In case you didn't know, that's very toasty and will probably scald you. 42-44 is pretty good if you ask me. Either way, my shower in America probably doesn't go past 40, so this is something I really look forward to, like, a lot.
On top of all of this, there's the whole onsen thing which is very nice. I'm pretty happy with just the bathtub / shower combination in a bathroom. Everything else (onsen, public baths, etc) is just icing on the cake. Delicious, delicious icing.
3. Heated Bottled/Canned Drinks
You can buy heated bottled / canned drinks from not only convenience stores / regular stores, but vending machines as well. That means hot tea, hot coffee, hot cocoa, and even hot corn soup. While this may seem a bit weird for people at first, hot drinks (and food) are a beautiful thing that should be cherished by all. I always go back to America and look at the vending machines with disgust and contempt. Sure, the technology of vending machines in Japan is that of the year 2050… but it's the hot drinks you can get that make all the difference. The only thing that disappoints me is that you can't buy hot Coke. Seems to me like it'd be delicious, amiright?
4. Scripted Welcomes
I kind of love this even though I know it's all scripted and often fairly fake. The scripted welcomes, thank yous, and goodbyes that conbinis (as well as other establishments) give you are pretty awesome. It's sometimes like a chorus of singers greeting you at the door as they do a round of "irashais" at you. While keigo is a huge pain when you have to do it, it always feels good when people do it to me. I'm not sure why I miss this (maybe because people who work at convenience stores in America obviously hate everything, especially you), but it's something I look forward to every time I walk in the door somewhere.
5. Real Wasabi
Did you know that in most places outside of Japan you're being deceived by the wasabi? They're giving you food colored horse radish, or something similar. The taste is quite different too. Once you've had real wasabi root nothing else tastes quite as good. One of the things I've missed a lot about not being in Japan is the lack of real wasabi (and even when you find it it's super expensive). Real wasabi is super delicious. It's hard to settle for anything else.
6. Call Buttons, Running Servers
Sometimes in Japanese restaurants there are buttons you can push. When you push said buttons, servers come running, usually literally. It's like a little mad dash to your table to serve you. They aren't even getting tipped, either. I'd like to see an American server run to your table when you hit the server button that doesn't actually exist in America in the first place.
But it's not just the button (though the button is great). When you want something in a Japanese restaurant you call for it. Sumimasen! you yell. Haiiiii, they respond as they come running. Instead of waiting for the server to come to you, you just ask for them to come and they do. It's a little more direct, but you get what you want when you want it. Also, button. Buttons are great.
How can you not miss Japanese mayonaise? First of all, it's basically on just about everything (and if it's not, it ought to be). Second, it tastes good, unlike other mayonaise. Like, it actually tastes good, and quite a bit different from what you might think. It's still mayonaise, but it's hard to explain. Japanese mayonaise is a bit sweeter, tastes a bit lighter, and goes better with just about anything. It's hard to escape the grasp of mayonaise in Japan, so it's much better to just embrace it, eat it, and let go of your mayonaise racism.
Luckily for me, I can get Japanese mayonaise in America, meaning my sandwiches, fried foods, and mouth can be filled with that delicious, delicious kewpie sauce. Japanese mayonaise, I want you inside of me.
So, those are the things I miss about Japan. Sure, there are plenty more "mainstream" ones, I'm sure, but these are the little things I miss (though you can hardly call mayonaise little). Any weird little thing you miss about Japan?
Let me know on Twitter ↑