While many places have regular Western toilets, a few do not, and I've had to use a squat toilet on at least four occasions. I can't say I fancy them. I always forget to grab a handful of tissue before I sit, or rather squat, and I then find myself flailing awkwardly for the dispenser which is always just out of reach. Plus, they're smelly and the linoleum floor is always suspiciously wet and slimy. Not to mention the discomfort squatting causes my legs. I only use squat toilets when I've had two or three beers and simply must go.
On the other end of the spectrum, are fancy toilets with seat warmers, music, bidets and fake flushing sounds to cover embarrassing noises. The controls look something like this:
I've used these at various department stores and restaurants, and I must say that the seat warmer is rather nice. However, I haven't tried the bidet or shower option. I read on Wikipedia that some of the toilets have glow in the dark seats and air conditioning. That would be something!
The toilet at our apartment is just a regular Western toilet with no fancy features. However, it does have a spigot at the top in case we'd like to wash our hands with toilet water. It's clean and it saves water, but I wash my hands in the regular bathroom sink by habit.
I like recycling as much as the next person, but the Japanese are hardcore about it. It's mandatory that everyone extensively sort and separate their garbage and put it out for collection on the designated day. Burnable garbage goes out on one day, plastics on another. Aluminum cans have their own days, as do bottles and newspapers/magazines. On the second Wednesday of the month or something, the city collects random things like batteries and large household items. All of these things go in their own bags of course, and we're supposed to clean everything before we toss it. My husband and I still have no idea what goes out when, and we have to stare into the garbage bin to figure out what trash we can bring down. Our employer left us strict warnings to follow the rules, claiming that mistakes will draw complaints from other residents or cause them to bring erroneously placed trash back to our door. We haven't had any problems yet, but then we haven't really been taking at our trash regularly. Also, the trash truck plays a little tune like the ice cream man's. And that brings me to....
*Random Things That Talk
Lots of random objects talk here. Ambulances talk. Crosswalks talk. Restaurants talk. Products at the grocery store talk. Of course, my husband and I can't understand a word of it. The first time we heard an ambulance talk, it was 3 in the morning and we were worried that it was some sort of emergency announcement. Another instructor later told us that the ambulance is basically saying "Get out of the way. This is an emergency." The crosswalk near our building talks and I can often hear it in our apartment. It goes, BEEP, BEEP (Japanese gibberish), BEEP, BEEP (Japanese gibberish). It talks when it's safe to walk, I think. It's very loud at the grocery store sometimes because the speakers placed around various products babble advertisements. A restaurant down the street from our apartment does the same.
Many people in Japan wear surgical masks wherever they go. I've heard it's because of allergies or a fear of getting sick, but I couldn't say for sure. My guess is that it's to fend off germs because, in my opinion, Japanese people are overly concerned with germs. Many businesses also have a little tray for customers to put money in so the clerk doesn't have to take it directly from the customer (which makes no sense because the clerk takes it from the tray not even one second after the customer puts it there). Most Japanese people don't wear masks, but enough do to make it worth pondering.
I'm sure there's more things to share, but that's all I can think of right now. Tune in for more at a later date.