After almost two years in Japan I'm finally comfortable using a squat toilet. "Squat toilet" is a fancy name for "flushing hole in the ground," aka: squaters. Squaters were intimidating at first but now I enjoy using them when I have the opportunity. Maybe it's just the novelty of learning a new way poop, a feeling I was too young to remember the first time round.
Imagine this: You're sitting at your desk when the dogs start scratchin at your back door. You head to the restroom and swing open the stall door and, much to your surprise, the toilet bowl is about 2 feet lower than it should be. Hell, it's burried in the floor! What do you do hotshot? You think back to camping trips only now there's no trees to hold onto. There's no handle bars in this crap cubicle.
If you're totally dumbfounded by the scene, you do what I did for over a year- you pinch 'er shut and get home asap. There are satanic machanics at work here.
That's what I did, I just ran away. Until the day the Inevitable caught up with me. I knew it had to happen someday. I just knew it. I had a demon inside me and wasn't gonna wait. I made my way to the stall like a convict "walking the mile" about to "ride the lightning." It was judgement day minus the throne.
I tried to think of the best way to approach the problem. There were no instructions, only a sign that said "We want everyone to feel good using the the toilet, so flush it when you're done." I figured I'd just squat half way down, brace my hands on my knees for support, and make the drop. But then, what if I missed the target and unloaded in my breeches? Ewww. So I took off my pants and undies but since there weren't any coat hooks anywhere I slung 'em over my neck like a scarf with pockets.
I was so tense, so nervous, so vulnerable. The demon was confused too because he turned tailed and ran. Hell no you filthy curr, you got me into this crazy situtation and you're going down if I have to squat here all day... Twenty minutes later I was dripping sweat, my legs were shaking in pain. I gave up and sat with my ass on my heels. I hung my head in humilation. Naked in the bathroom. I felt like Job.
That's when the clouds parted and a beautiful ray of sunlight shone down on me. My cheeks parted too and soon the demon was out of me and baptized in the clear water of Toto's bowl. I breathed a huge sigh of relief: catharsis realized. Glowing, I took note of my squating position.
Later when I talked to my friend about my experience I learned that you're supposed to squat all the way down when using a squater. My internet research confirmed it. I also found out that it's actually healthier to squat-shit than to sit-shit. For the plethora of health benefits click here. For animation of how to do it click here.
Now I look forward to squating because I know I'm taking the best shit I can. It feels great and thanks to my research I don't have to strip to do it anymore. There's something primal about. My squat training really helped me in India where squaters are the norm; only their stalls come with a bucket and water instead of toilet paper. Ewww.
Great links for squaters: health benifits- http://www.naturesplatform.com/health_benefits.html?a=&p=health_benefits.html&s=&c=&x=1#Dr_Rad
For more on toilets in Japan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilets_in_Japan
How to use it: http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~AD8y-hys/movie.htm
Photos: Top- cartooned image of my favorite squater. Bottom- helpful advice "Flush." I really like the turds hanging onto the lip of the bowl.