Friday, 1 May 2015

Into the Rising Sun 15

The calm was distracted by new hygienic imperatives. Japan is where you take off your shoes to enter your room, and shower before you bathe. Horizons would be broadened. Please kindly refrain from wearing slippers and yakuta outside of guest rooms...The slippers are finished with cleaning. 
The first puzzle was the second set of slippers, the hard pink plastic tow pinchers, three sizes too small, that were only to be used in the toilet. Robyn went first.
“That’s not me!” She cried, after sitting down.
“The toilet seats are heated.” I said. “And there are buttons for all sorts of things.” Some auxiliary features border on terrifying. A pressure transducer detects your presence. There is the standard bidet tenderness selection, and a posterior nozzle with a variety of jet size, power settings, and ‘turbo wash’ massage option. Deodorization features include masking fragrances and, in more advanced models, ozone, which is also highly inflammable in the presence of a spark. Sensors that measure blood pressure and body fat and urinary sugar can transmit this information wirelessly to doctors; other sensors can detect illegal substances and transmit this information to the authorities, thus giving new meaning to the concepts of stool pigeon and blow dryer. 
The Otohime Sound Princess produces a tinny replica of a toilet flush, designed to mask the sound of a woman peeing. This occurs above the background sphincter relaxation mood music, there to help you and your nether muscles de-stress enough to perform. The Toto Washlet in our Kamakura bathroom was smarter than most of my colleagues back home.
“What do you hope to learn in Japan?” I had been asked by one, before we left. I told him that this was the reason I was going.

   ‘A traveler went to visit a famous Zen Master to learn something about 
    Zen. While the Master was serving tea the traveler began talking about 
    Zen. The master poured the traveler’s cup to the brim, and kept 
    pouring. The traveler watched this. “The cup is full and overflowing.” 
    He said. “Its overfull master. Stop it.” The Master smilingly replied, 
    “You’re like this cup. How can you pour something about Zen into you. 
    First empty your cup.”’

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Robyn asked, just before falling asleep. 
“What?” I asked.
“Just outside our balcony.” She said. “Japan.”

       ‘One should not show his sleeping quarters to other people. The time 
        of deep sleep and dawning are very important.’
                   Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure- The Book of the Samurai, 1716

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