About a year ago, last April,7 of us went on a memorable 7 day family trip to Japan. Japan is an enigma and a must-see for travel enthusiasts. An extremely kid friendly country with huge parks and family size toilet rooms in every nook and corner of the country. Train is the cheapest mode of transport (cheap means 18,000 rupees for a one-week Japan Rail Pass !!!). The rail stations resemble malls, many having a Louis Vitton or a Gucci store. Experience Sumo wrestling live , gobble up Sushi and miso soup, stare at the Shin-juku crossing where lakhs of people cross a zebra-crossing in a minute, catch the famed Cherry blossoms in March and whiz from Tokyo to Kyoto in the famed Shinkansen ( bullet trains with speeds touching 320 km/hr). Further ahead from Kyoto is the inspirational city of Hiroshima. Hiroshima can give any world city a run for its money in terms of world-class infrastructure. As you travel around , amazed by its beauty, you will forget that this city had an atom bomb dropped … until you see the Genbaku Dome ( one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero). Here, you will realize why killing innocent civilians in the name of war is so grossly unfair on the affected families. The way they have quickly re-built this city makes you salute every Japanese you come across…
Japan and Germany have been most devastated by the World War 2, but the way they have leveraged technology to become the world leaders in electronics and automobiles is truly inspirational. The world’s best electronic brands – Sony, Canon, Toshiba.. along with household automobile names – Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi all have been built after World War 2. Ruthless focus and amazing execution excellence!! Same goes with Germany – BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, SAP, Daimler, Siemens, Adidas …
However, all this technological advancement has come at a cost for the Japanese. Most Japanese are intense work-a-holics. This explains high suicide rates and an ageing population. I felt that many people here do not have time for childbirth. Therefore, Japan has a very strong family policy with child benefits. Japan also houses “cat cafes”- where people pay money and talk to cats… Yes you heard it right !!! People pour their daily lives to cats. They talk to cats as if they are talking to children.. Have you heard about this in any other country??
The Japanese are very devout by nature. All through the year, you will find the “Inaris ” filled with devotees. This part of their culture resembles India. The fox is highly revered. You see a lot of threads tied on trees-a prayer, a hope,a feeling of gratitude for a fulfilled wish..
My best memory of Japan, which will remain forever , is the Japanese commode. The Japanese commode symbolizes technological prowess.The commode has various push-buttons, each having a different functionality. My first visit to the commode was awe-inspiring. For 20 minutes, I was just zapped by the push-buttons. I tried flirting with the various push-buttons. On pressing one button, cold water started gushing out. It was quite cold in April, so in panic I pressed the next button. The water suddenly turned hot; red-hot that my skin started to burn.
In panic, I pressed the knob next to the buttons. I turned it clockwise and lo.. the water’s temperature started to change. Temperature control , like an AC; only difference is the AC is used to control the temperature of a room.. in this case the knob controls the temperature of your bum. Zapped!!!
I was looking for the sprinkler but I couldn’t find one; I hate tissue paper and I was cursing myself… until I saw two more buttons!!!
These buttons were the icing on the cake. For the first time in my life, I have compared a commode to a cake !! That’s the experience it gave me. I pressed one button and. the water hit my buttocks from the sides. I was impressed. But wait.. I pressed the second and.. Boom Boom Boom… the water gushed out from nowhere and hit my buttocks from underneath! The Japanese have used amazing technology to eliminate use of both sprinkler and tissue paper. Pure Genius !!!
And this commode was not in a 5 star hotel. It was in a homestay in the suburbs. I saw this commode everywhere in Japan- in a train, mall, park, 5 star hotel, ferry..
The Americans and Europeans should take a leaf out of the Japanese book. These so-called innovation hubs still use tissue paper, despite knowing that 70% of the earth is water and it depletes less quickly than trees. Cannot fathom why they are stuck in the Old Stone Age and still use tissue paper when we have the amazing Japanese sprinkler-free technology. After the Japan visit, I stopped staying in all “Park” brand hotels in India as they don’t have sprinklers. I hope an Indian brand of hotels sets shop in US, Europe and uses this technology as a USP to woo guests.
If the legendary Raj Kapoor was sitting in place of me in the iconic Japanese commode last April, he would be singing..
“Mera Commode Hai Japani..Yeh Patlun English-taani,
Meri Lal TV Sony.. Phir bhi Dil hai Hindustani….”