Previous posts have made me think about bathrooms. It's interesting how this often overlooked part of the house, destined for "less noble" activities, can say so much about people... You could almost say, and rightly so, show me your toilet and I'll tell you who you are and this is true both individually and colectively. In fact, if we analyse the vases and toilets from all over the world, we can see that the true character of each people is cruelly mirrored in them - the toilet is an infallible cultural indicator.
The existence of a huge gap between Western and Eastern civilization, with Japan, one of the most developed countries in the world, occupying a the top place, is noteworthy. Japan's superiority manifests itself in their toilets, obviously. Historically, Japan has always shown high standards of hygiene. When, in Europe, it was still common to throw waste in the street, in Japan, it was used to fertilize the soil. Rich people's faeces, for example, were much sought after, due to their richer nourishment and made for good fertilizers. They would actually be sold for a good price. This necessity led to the creation of latrines and Turkish toilets - a hole in the ground - that have become the traditional Japanese toilet.
There's an entire ethical and utilitarian sense behind this sanitary concept. Please consider that before the introduction of latrines in Japan in the 3rd century, aproximately, there was already a primitive toilet system that consisted of a small water channel of between 10 to 15 cm of width. The introduction of the latrine represented an enormous cultural development and transformed the act of defecation into a cultural experience with a deeper meaning. It's important the the person using them maintains his balance and adopts the correct position and, for that, there is a frontal support for the hands (the only existing physical contact). Such a posture fortifies the joints and pelvic muscles, favouring the concentration and allowing the biggest quantity possible of faecal matter to leave the colon. Besides, this will ensure that the faeces fall in the right place. Perfect.
This type of device was used by men and women, both dressed in kimonos, which were, traditionally, worn without underwear; it was enough, then, to raise it to waist length. But don't think that afterwards they would simply let the kimono down. Even in the most ancient times they used various systems to clean the anus - algae, leaves and even wooden spatulas - until they started using a rough paper made out of vegetable fibres called washi.
The traditional Japanese toilets are, to this day, quite ordinary. Most of them are made out of porcelain, although some are also made out of stailess steel, just like in the West. On the other hand, instead of falling in a watered siphon, the waste is collected by a channel cleaned by a water jact of variable intensity. To avoid unpleasant situations, the users should be naked from the waist down. On a final note: the toilet slippers, which are present in every respectable household...