Tokyo: Thoughtfulness in Toilets and Trash

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Hello! It’s been a few crazy busy weeks in the real life and I’m glad to be back here. Today is about Tokyo: Thoughtfulness in Toilets and Trash. It won’t be gross. Read on.

Back in October I finally made a trip to the Japanese capital. It’s a thrill to check it off my travel bucket list of a few years and the trip did not disappoint. How could it really, when they have bathrooms with heated mirrors that don’t steam up? (Actually, they only heat up the one half of the mirror that you’d look, which is over the sink. It’s done Just Right.) And there are electronic bidets of various levels of sophistication attached to toilets. Husband and I chuckled like little kids, but they make an adventure out of every visit to a public restroom. At the fanciest one I went to, the toilet lid automatically lifted as I walked in, the control panel lit up and it started to play a water sound. There are ones that come with a dryer and a deodorizer. It’s like you walked into a different world, where no one ever needs to feel awkward and aware of other people being two feet away ever again.

When we first left a public restroom we found a lack of paper towels, or even hand dryers. Then we noticed that trash cans were also hard to find. Sometimes we carried our trash back to the hotel. Our room had two recycling bins for bottles, but only one tiny trash can in the bathroom barely bigger than the size of your fist. One time in the food court/supermarket of a department store, a store lady was handing out cookie samples. Each cookie was still half-wrapped, the lady holding the wrapped part. I reached to take it from the wrapped part too but she held on. A little startled, I then went for just the cookie and she let go, dropping the wrapper into a little basket she carried.

That’s when I realized this is a trash-and-litter-control system.

I failed to notice it, but this article says the locals carry hand towels. Over the few days in Tokyo I became more and more aware of the amount of trash I accumulate and carry, and how I started to avoid it. The tiny trash can in the bathroom also proved to be sufficient.

Talking about bathrooms and trash is not glamorous and I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which the Japanese handle and address them. And why not? The former is for our necessary bodily functions, and the second is related to the health of our planet.

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