The best part of my airport and airplane journey (23 hours of flying) was getting to use a toilet. The flight out of Atlanta was running late and my connection in Tokyo was going to be tight. Fortunately there was a woman in the jet way holding a sign with my name on it. Her job was to assist me in catching my flight! Whao, now that is great service! Her English vocabulary was limited but she did manage to tell me “you are fast walker”. Yes, this is very true and under these circumstances I am happy to be wearing hiking shoes. At one point we even did a little jog and were mildly cheered on by the other airport staff along our way. How pleasant. After making it to the gate and printing out my ticket I expressed my gratitude and said goodbye.
There is something about feeling like you may have to forfeit one experience for another that make you so much more appreciative when you get to do both. In this case make my fight and pee before I get on the plane. Now, to find a toilet. I have learned about these fabulous toilets that have music, options for washing, and even allow you to control the water temp and pressure. In the bathroom there are several stalls with differing symbols. I see one with the symbol I have never seen before to open up. Two people go before me and then a lady comes out of the one I have been waiting for. It is true, this toilet is not just a flusher but a whole machine.
Somewhere between a ritual and a childlike urgency I hang all my belonging (including my yoga mat) on the door and admire this revolutionary toilet. It is revolutionary because Japan used the toilet to show a sign of sophistication and recovery after WWII. At least that is want I remember being thought in a sanitation around the world lecture. Furthermore, as a result, these fancy machines have brought the topic of toilets and therefore wastewater into popular culture and casual conversation.
So as you might expect, I tested out all the settings. And not that I needed to, but I even pushed the fake flush button they use as a way of being polite if you are going to make any noise. The only thing that was missing that I have heard of was the blow dryer, which makes using the toilet virtually hands free. Knowing my flight would be boarding momentarily I hurriedly took a few pictures and prepare for the last leg of my journey.