Sunday, August 30, 2009


After re-reading this blog, I find I must apologize for the staccato nature of the writing. I blame it on my lack of opportunity to practice English these days.

This week/weekend was a pretty fun one. On Monday and Tuesday the Shimane JETS collected in Matsue for an orientation. I was dreading more orientating but it turned out actually to be a lot of fun. The rest of the week Fukuda-san and I practiced driving to my schools. One day she suprised me with a treat. We were driving by a place called "Cafe Libido". . . a store I had assumed to be of the adult variety. "Fukuda-san" I thought. "I don't want to go to a porn shop with you." But knowing what a proper lady she is I figured it must actually be something else. I consented, and we went in to the cutest, coolest little cake shop I've ever seen. The cakes were delicate, tiny, and enticing. It smelled lovely. We enjoyed our desserts and I didn't have the heart to tell her what libido really means in English.
Yesterday Ian, Litha and I went to Izumo to check out the You Me mall. It is the biggest mall in Shimane. I always like shopping but find the clothes in Japan to be 1. mostly ridiculous and 2. Mostly tiny (When the biggest size pant you can find it about an 8 or possibly 10 US you know you're in trouble).
Today I tried cooking some cuban black beans (I even special ordered cumin online for the occasion!) but was greatly dissappointed when I tried them. Although the bag said
黒豆 which I thought should just mean black bean, it turns out they are actually black soybeans. And it turns out that Cubans use black turtle beans. Who knew? Anyway I am greatly displeased. Also, today I returned to 鬼の舌震 to enjoy a hike. This time I brought my camera with me and I will let the pictures do the talking.
It's just breathtaking.
Next week school starts. Every school has an opening ceremony I have to attend. Tomorrow is Nita Middle School- my main school. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eight Headed Dragons and Rabbit Sweets

Okininushi was attending his eighty brothers who all sought the love of the beautiful princess, Ya-gami-hime of Inaba. Finding a white rabbit without fur, clearly in pain, the brothers advised it to bathe in salt water, which only made it worse. Okinushi asked the rabbit for his story. The rabbit had wanted to cross from the island of Oki, in the Sea of Japan, to Izumo. There was no bridge so the rabbit had persuaded a family of crocodiles to form a living bridge to enable him to cross the water. He had promised that he would count the number of crocodiles, who were to lie end to end, and compare them to the number of sea creatures, so the crocodiles would know who is more numerous. But this was just a ruse to get the crocodiles into forming the bridge. Just before he had completed crossing the bridge he was foolish enough to tell this to the crocodiles. In a rage the last crocodile on the bridge skinned the rabbit alive. Okininushi told the rabbit that instead he should bathe in the fresh water by the bulrushes and then roll in the ground sprinkled with the pollen of the sweet Kama grass. Now the rabbit was in fact a deity. When the cure worked and the rabbit’s snow white fur returned, he granted Okininushi the land of Ya-gami.


因幡の国気多ちゅうところに一匹の白兎が住んどったげな。ある時天敗れたぐらいの、こうけい大水が流れてな。 遊岐島まで流されて困ちょうたげなわい。よこに、わにさめと出会ったげな。

白兎わにさめをだまくらかして向こう岸にいったるわいと思うて 「おまいさまの連れととちがようけかくらべような」といってな。 向こう岸まで並べて「一匹一匹。。。」って数ながら渡っただいや。そん時に白兎がつい【渡りに舟とはこんことだいや」って言うたけ、わにさめはだまかされたってわかって、こうけ怒ってなあ。



In Japan there are stores that sell local sweets you can give as gifts (omiyage) all over Japan. Around here a lot of the stores sell sweets shaped like little rabbits. The above sweet is actually a cake with some sugary type filling inside. Rabbit treats are popular around here because the above story is actually about Shimane. My prefecture, although perhaps sometimes countrybumpkin, is the origin of a lot of myths- most notably the one about Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight headed dragon. If you've played or heard of the game Ookami you know what I'm talking about. There is even a road here known as the Orochi Loop which curls around like a dragon on itself. Although sometimes I complain about things like the lack of good shopping or English speakers in my area, I am proud and happy to be living in a place with such a rich history.

the top picture is a delicious rabbit cake. the next one is a picture of the packaging for the cakes- note the cute bunny and the little deity poking out of the bullrushes. this last one is a pic of the orochi loop- although you can't see the loopy part.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sure it is rude and tidy sitting in the air conditioned room

Life just got decidedly more interesting.

As you may (or may not) know, I have been waiting for my car to arrive. And, on Friday, it did.


A couple interesting things about driving in Japan:
1. (Most obvious) You drive on the left side of the road. That being said, everything is reversed. Left hand turns are a cinch- it's the right hand ones you have to look out for. Shifting gears is done with your left hand. All sorts of things I would never have thought about. All left.
2. The roads in Japan are freaking crazy. They are narrow and twisting and are not organized very well.
3. Most roads have an upper limit of 50-60 kph, which is about 30-36 miles an hour. Highways can reach up to 80 kmp (almost 50 mph), but highways are few and far between and cost a arm and a leg to use. So traveling from town to town takes a lot longer.
4. Japan has these wonderful things we call affectionately "gaijin traps". They are little ditches on the side of the road that, if you aren't careful, will eat your wheel. The one on the right is a good meter from the side of the road, which is nice, because some are scarily close. They also border parking lots and other such places a lot. There are horror stories about having to call the supervisor to out the carwhen unsuspecting JETs run in to one.
5. A lot of the bridges are labeled with how long it is. I'm not sure why I care Fill-in-the-Blank Bridge is 30.5 meters long, but the sign seems to wish to inform me
Anyway, now I am a free bird. So yesterday I celebrated by going to Matsue, Shimane's largest city. Fukuda-san was having kittens about my going alone, but as all Shimane JETs have to go there on Monday and Tuesday for yet another pointless orientation, I wanted to be able to practice going there. (They wanted us to take the train because they were too worried. Forget that).
I went and had a great time. In the morning I went to the Shimane Art Museum and saw a special exhibit on an artist called Hashimoto Kansetsu. His portraits were a bit too cartoony for my tastes, but his animal paintings were awesome. I then went shopping (bliss!) at a real mall (bliss!) and although I didn't buy anything had a good time. My last stop was Matsue-Castle, a National Treasure of Japan. It's an impressive structure, celebrating its 400th anniversary this year.
It's an impressive structure, masculine and traditional. From the top of many floors connected by steep, narrow stairs you could see the whole of Matsue and be cooled by delicious breezes. (That's where I took the picture of the cityscape from). Surprisingly enough, on my way back from the castle I met James and two of his friends. He happened to be in Matsue that day and the gang was waiting to get on a boat goes around the castle grounds. I decided to join them. The boatman explained everything very thoroughly in very polite Japanese I didn't understand very well. When we went underneath bridges too low to clear our roof it lowered so we had to crouch ludicrously.
Good times. I am glad to be mobile now and not have to sit at the BOE for hours after work waiting for a ride home. I have been complaining about this inactivity to my new email pal Takeshi-san, the person who installed my Internet and who wants to practice his English. He commiserated.
"Sure it is rude and tidy sitting in an air conditon room. If necessary I will take you outside in the sun."
My visit to Matsue was very polite and untidy, and I enjoyed it immensly


As I was standing in line today at the grocery store, a man walked up and stepped in front of me in line. He simply cut me. No one said anything either- not the ladies at the checkout who are usually so friendly to me nor the guests behind me in line waiting.

Now, normally I would not complain. But this is literally the third time this has happened to me in the short less-than-a-month I've been here. Usually my blonde hair and English accent make me stick out like a sore thumb. But I think sometimes it makes me invisible.

I dont know whether my status as a foreigner sometimes makes people think surely I cant just be waiting in line for groceries like they are, or if they just ignore that which is not the normal routine in their day. But either way it hurts and confuses me.

Even worse is the realization that this is not a Japanese phenomenon. I wondered momentarily if my foreign friends experienced this is America. I'm sure they did, and worse. Subtle or sometimes outright racism occurs everywhere. I am sorry for when it happens in my home country- really sorry.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

編オタク- Knitting Nerd

Just wanted to let you guys know I have begun knitting surreptitiously at the BOE.

Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sake makes the World go Round

I would like to praise the friend-making powers of Sake.

Sunday night Fukuda-san invited me to her house for a dinner party. Since Saturday she and her husband bought me my new pets, I wanted to bring them a good present. Also, her husband is the principal of the main Junior High School I will go to, so making friends with him will make life easier for me (although it took me the longest time to figure out he was her husband- she always calls him father). Anyway I got on my bike and cycled up to the Sake-ya-san (Liquor Vendor) and asked for some of that delicious sake I drank at our welcome party. The Fukudas were very impressed and grateful. In fact, Mr. Fukuda-san REALLY liked the sake. Upon seeing it- "Natalie" he says to me, "Natalie, when you come to Nita Junior High, I am going to put your desk next to mine." Everyone laughed. It was a fun night.

Yesterday apparently in the morning he went to Matsue, Shimane-ken's largest city, and took a traditional candy making class. So last night he presented me with these:They are omochi- rice flour candies filled with sweet bean paste. Omochi is a very traditional "candy" but are just usually little circles. The pink one is a tulip and the white one is a swan. And he made them. By hand. They are too pretty to eat I think.

Tomizawa-sensei, my awesome college Japanese professor, often spoke of the small actions Japanese people use that are designed to make social interaction easier. Japanese culture is filled with many ridiculously kind and polite words and oppourtunities to give small presents in order to foster good feelings between people. Japan is such a crowded place and so community oriented that without these social tidings everyone would probably want to kill each other. I have found that seriously, fostering good feelings makes the world go around in Japan.

You know? I have a tulip and a swan made out of rice. Who else can say that.

As there are minors reading this blog I felt that I should add I think there is nothing wrong with drinking: it's being stupid about it that is a problem. Binge drinking or drinking when you are underage is pretty dumb. What's the legal blood alcohol limit in Japan? Zero. That's right. One sip and you're out. Funny to think that when in America being a "DD" means sticking to just a couple drinks. Sake in Japan is considered sacred and is given to the gods at local shrines and temples. So bottom line? Don't be a baka.

Hiroshima: The aftermath

As I'm writing this blog I would like to let you all know that I am drinking Suntory C.C. Lemon- a drink that claims to have "70 lemons' worth of Vitamin C in every Bottle."

Take that, scurvy.

Anyway, ever since our trip to Hiroshima Ian has not been feeling well. He gets car sick even worse than I do, and on the way back we had to make a stop to let him "look at the bugs" as I now affectionately call it. But ever since our trip he's been feeling nauseated. Now one day is totally understandable, but as he still felt sick three days later he decided enough was enough. He told the BOE and they freaked out. You see, an case of the H-1-N-1 Flu was recorded last week at the Elementary school in Ai. Mysterious hand washing stations have popped up everywhere, and I keep hearing them phone random people about the case. Naturally when they found Ian to be sick they assumed the worst. So yesterday morning, just as I was complaining bitterly in my head about being bored, Fukuda-san and the BOE asked me to accompany Ian and Takahashi-san, another gaijin-wrangler, to the hospital.

Well, not hospital really. Japan has a lot of small health centers and we went to one a few minutes' walk away. I was a bit nervous when we walked in- it was crowded with coughing old people. I reminded myself it was not me getting examined and continued along the narrow hall. Let me tell you, sitting in on an examination of another person I just met was certainly awkward, especially when I had to translate things like "Have you been pooping normally?". Oh dear. I had heard tales of Japanese health centers but had never been, thankfully. It was certainly an interesting experience. Ian now is taking gross medicine three times a day and hopefully will not die.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This weekend I had the opportunity to go to Hiroshima, "literally wide island" although it is neither an island nor unusually wide. From my town by highway it should only be about two and a half hours to get to Hiroshima City.

It is one of several places in Japan that has given me a strange, almost surrealistic feeling when returning to. The first time I went to Japan was in High School with my beloved Sensei and a motley gang of high school friends. At that time I had no concept that I would ever return to this country. The whole trip was like a dream- I got to explore a country with which I was enthralled and see all its best parts and homestay with the nicest family. I was at a very different stage of my life then- getting over hard times and getting stronger for better times. My second trip to Japan was another step- I was there for a few months to study. It still wasn't reality yet- I was living with a host family who took very good care of me and I was only there for a few months- long enough to enjoy but short enough not to have to adapt very much. Now I am almost an adult. I am here for a year living on my own, working on my own, and speaking almost exclusively Japanese. I am returning to places I went years ago which I never thought I would see again. It's a decidedly odd feeling.

Anyway, all nostalgia aside, it was a fun trip. The other two Jets, Litha and Ian, as well as James the Canadian English teacher and I all packed in to James's car and braved the windy windy roads. We first went to the Peace Park.

It was pretty crowded, so the full gravity of the place's history was tempered a bit with annoyance that we couldn't see anything. For lunch we stopped for Okonomiyaki お好みやけ, a specialty food of Hiroshima. (In Japan every region has its own specialty foods. Before you ask, Okuizumo's is a beef dish.) Literally an as-you-like it pancake, okonomiyake usually has noodles, egg, meat, and special sauce all on top a pancake type thing. I had never eaten it before because Okonomiyake usually always has meat. I ordered the vegetable one and picked around the inevitable bacon. Sigh, meat eaters. It was pretty tasty- I really like the sauce. The boys ordered the assorted one which had everything in it- meat, squid, shrimp, eggs, noodles, etc.

After that we walked around Hondori, a ceilinged street packed with shops. It was so nice to go shopping, even though I didn't make any purchases. It's just nice to look at merchandise aimed at my generation for a change (Okuizumo definitely has a lot of older people).We went to Uniqlo- the Gap of Japan, and I lusted over a red cardigan sweater. I also saw Octopus Army, perhaps one of the best names for a clothing store ever. For dinner we ate at Subway which was the closest to American food I'd eaten since July 23rd. Although I ordered a shrimp and avocado sandwich with wasabi soy sauce dressing- decidedly different than my favorite toasted veggie sub- I decided to pretend I was in just in California.

The trip back was kind of brutal- we decided to "save time" by finding the highway back.
Only trouble was, we didn't know how to find the highway and, even if we found it, we didn't know which direction to take on it. So our return trip took four hours. Four hours of windy roads and mountains and fast speeds to make up for slow time. It was all I could do not to lose my cookies. Unfortunately Ian was not so lucky. For the update on this funny story wait for my next blog, "the aftermath". You will not be disappointed.

All in all it was a really fun trip. The guys are funny, Hiroshima is awesome, and getting out of Okuizumo was fabulous. (Love you, Okuizumo.)

I should probably explain the pictures. The first is one of the many statues around the Peace Park. In honor of the story of S adako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, pilgrims to the park sometimes fold a thousand paper cranes and leave them at a statue. When I went in high school we did that for our lost friend, David DeMay. The second is the Atom Bomb Dome, one of the only remaining structures after the blast. The third is a statue for Sadako. Third and fourth come "vegetable" and assorted okonomiyaki. Fifth is the entrance to Hondori. Check out the links for more info.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


As you see, I am now a proud pet owner. Watch the video and be enthralled.

Friday, August 14, 2009


The tub is the most favorite bed now

I just found the equivalent of lolcats in Japan. Its a blog centered around this adorable cat named Maru. Not only that, but there is Engrish. I think I can count this as studying Japanese, don't you?
Check it out.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ehhhhhhh? Moments

One of my favorite Japanese TV shows used to be the ヘ?ehhhhh game show. On this singular program, a group of panelists would be shown an assortment of very odd things, and they would press a button labeled "ヘ?" as many times as they thought the object strange. The oddity that incurred the most ehhhs won. I have been seeing so many things here that would do great on an American spin off of this TV show so I think I will dedicate several blogs to its noble purpose. My awesome friend Sarah Richcreek gave me this idea- so this blog is for you, girl!

I thinks Japan`s advertising motto should be "If there is a need we will fill it. If there is no need we will make one and make it cuter". I mean seriously. Chair socks? With daisies on them? I had a sudden and irrational urge to buy these for my chairs, lest their tiny wooden feet get cold in the harsh winter. Luckily, I resisted.

For emphasis, the sign for this museum literally says "Abacus and Craft Museum". I had heard that abacus were popular in this part of Japan, but I didn't really believe it. Until I saw this museum. What? What is an abacus museum? Why are there crafts involved? I think that metal diamond is actually supposed to be an abacus block- classy touch. I am not joking when I say I must go to this museum

Although the most unassuming of the three pictures, this product actually has the funniest story behind it. Since coming to Japan I've been drinking mostly green tea, water, and a Diet Coke once a day. In the States I like to drink a lot of different things so I thought I would expand my repertoire of Japanese beverages. "I know Japanese" I thought to myself. "I will use my skillz to obtain a tasty tasty treat." I really enjoyed all those powdered drinks you could put in water bottles from back home, so these guys caught my eye. I knew the kanji on here too- the one that looks like 梅 means plum and the one that looks like 茶 means tea. Plum tea?! Delicious! Perfect! Unfortunately I overlooked the stuff in the middle of those two characters because I didn't know what they meant. Turns out it was a contraction for Konbu- a particularly odious kind of black seaweed. So when I took a swig of my new drink it tasted like plum flavored salt water with seaweed. I almost choked. Just goes to show you the pursuit of tasty treats in Japan is not for the weak of stomach.

Yesterday I went to the Yokota preschool to play with the kids. We had so much fun. One of their favorite games was one where a gaggle of girls would lead my by the hands over to the shoe cupboard, which they reassured me did NOT, in fact, have any ghosts. Then the boys would jump out and yell and I would run away for my life from the "scary" ghosts. This continued for a good hour, at which time we were all sweating like crazy and laughing so hard our sides hurt. Then decided to turn into a dinosaur, and walked around "chasing" the kids. They just ran around the place thunderously- I didn't even have to really chase them. Those genki genki kids.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Cultural Experiences"

This Saturday I got to attend a Bon-Odori 盆踊り at Shimoai Elementary School. There is a Buddhist tradition called the Obon 御盆 which is kind of like a day for the dead. People believe that the spirits of those departed from us return to family alters on this day. The Bon-odori is a dance for this festival. A singer calls out a song telling an ancient story, and people dance slowly in a large circle around him. It is believed that spirits of the dead join in the dance as well. (For a better explanation click this Wiki article: Obon) I was glad to go because this really is something unique to Japan and very embedded in their history- not some Anime convention or Hot Dog eating contest.
The man in the Yukata next to the huge drum was the main singer. I told him afterwards I really liked his song and he corrected me: It's not really a song, it's a story. Ooops. That other guy on the stage helps sing when the main caller's voice gets tired, and he rythmically pounds the huge drum throughout the dance.
The cute, tiny lady in the middle is Fukuda-san, my supervisor and general gaijin wrangler. She's been so kind to me- bringing me more rice and eggplant than I can eat and fussing about things I would never think to lift a finger for. The lady on the left used to be the JET supervisor- she was the best dancer- and the two guys are the other JETS Litha and Ian.

Here is a section of video from the dance. Our town danced around in a circle until we ended up generally where we began and then had a rest for a bit. We did four revolutions throughout the night. You can almost make out Fukuda-san on the left in the beginning of the dance. It really warmed my heart to see all ages- from tiny girls in cool summer Yukata to ninety plus year old men and women in their traditional blue jinbei still a-dancin' the night away.
The festival really ended too early.

Today we went to the Yokota Community center to join in the Tea Club's Tea Ceremony performance. The tea ceremony- sadou or 茶道 is epically Japanese. It's beautiful, understated, steeped in tradition, and there's an anally retentive way of doing every single motion. Here I am learning how to fold the cloth. Yes, there is a certain and complicated way of folding even the cloth.

We all took turns making the tea- even I got to have a chance!

I would have to say that every minute every day here is a cultural experience. You can really get through the overlay of a culture by seeing what happens during times usually considered mundane or boring. However the Bon-Odori and the Sadou really stand out it my mind as what would be considered traditionally Japanese.

I fear in the future I will have much less time to blog and much more interesting things to blog about. Ironic.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I can has interwebz!

I finally got the internet in my apartment! Woohoo! So now I will put on all the pictures of my town and such.

My Cute, tiny town

You want your misty mountains? I got your misty mountains.

Forests along the road

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Precocious Rabbit Cafe: We're glad to see you- Feel free to drink without reserve!

There is a curious form of exercise in Japan known as ラジオ体操.  It's a broadcast put on by the Japanese government that everyone does in the morning involving flailing arm movements and rotation of the midsection. The first time I did it here I found it quite charming. "This is the attitide America needs!" I thought. "The delight in things that are good for you and the constant pursuit of health! Awesome!" Subsequent days of doing this changed my mind however. I could think of a lot better ways to spend that ten minutes of my time, such as sitting at my desk on the computer like the lazy American that I am. Now two days ago the head of the Ai Community Center (which is right next to my apartment building) rang my doorbell at 6:40 am to inform me that every morning some elementary students gather to to exercise at 6:30- I was welcome to join them if I liked. So yesterday I did. Actually, when I left my apt at 6:25 my intent was to go for a run but as soon as the kids spotted me they started waving their arms frantically and shouting "Here! Here! It's here you want to go!" Although they were mistaken- I really wanted to go elsewhere- I ran over anyway and joined them. Much to my chagrin the "exercise" turned out to be- you guessed it!- rajio taisou. However I found out I enjoyed it much better doing it with little enthusiastic kids, and much better while wearing tennis shoes rather than the dress shoes I am forced into at work. Unfortunately then again at 8:20 I had to do it at the office again.

At 10 we went to a day care to play with even more elementary students. At first they were all so shy- no one wanted to ask any questions or come anywhere near us. However within an hour I was giving more piggy back rides than I ever thought possible, and Ian was being used as a human high jump for several lively boys. They also started asking the sort of impertinent questions little kids are great at like "Why are Americans' noses so long? Are you pregnant? Why is your hair blonde?" Darn it, they were cute though. By the end of the day, when they were finally slightly tired out, I had one girl sitting on my lap, a boy sitting next to me with his head on my arm, and two girls behind me playing with my hair.

I love little kids. At least most of the time.

Right now I am resting- this morning we went to all the six elementary/middle schools in Yokota, and this afternoon we went to the seven in Nita (mine.) We also walked around a cool park with huge rocks fallen everywhere apparently caused by some demon's love affair with a neighboring princess. At one of the schools we drank tea from a glass with a sleeping bunny that read:

The Precocious Rabbit Cafe: We're glad to see you- Feel free to drink without reserve!

<------ This is the self-introduction I am giving out to all the schools. Don't I look so official?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Contact me PLEASE! and Yokota/横田

Okuizumo is actually comprised of two smaller towns joined in to one. Yokota is actually where all the action is- it's where the Board of Education where I'm currently working is located, it has the two big department stores, and it has the other English speakers. They banished me to Nita, the other town, so I could live in an all girls apartment. It seems they are pretty strict about gender segregation. Now it is a twenty minute car ride through the mountains to get to Yokota, maybe twelve or thirteen kilometers. "I can bike that" I said to myself. "I've biked farther than that in the states". I failed to take in to account that I was IN THE FREAKING MOUNTAINS! and that eight miles uphill is a lot different than on flat roads. Anyway, an hour and a half later I arrived in Yokota like the Amazon woman I am, sweating and stinky- pleased not to be in Nita. As I was there Fukuda-san, my advisor who worries about me and about everything concerning my safety, called me and wanted to make sure I was ok (my bike was gone from in front of my apt). I assured her I was fine, I just happened to bein Yokota. Now the entire staff at the BOE take much glee in recounting my feat.
There was also a small festival in Yokota in front of the train station this weekend. It was tiny- less than a block big- but cute. There was a Ninja Warrior style stilt walking contest, and someone gave me a cute balloon toy because I had blonde hair. Several local kindergartens put on shows which was ridiculously adorable. Here is the video!

Anyway, for those of you who would like to send me mail (and please please do!) you can send it to:

Shimane-ken Nita-gun  Okuizumo-cho Shimoai 335-1
Dainidanchi Room 313
Natalie Borges 〒699-1622

my cell phone number is 09037446652 (not that this will be much use to most of you but do call me if you can!) and my cell phone email address is (you can send an email on the PC and it will go direct to my phone- fancy!)

Contact me! I LOVE IT

Japanese Toilets

I would classify Japanese toilets into three distinct categories-
1. The Super Awesome Cool Toilet Yay!
This toilet is a Western style seated toilet. It has a built-in seat warmer, a bidet, and will make noises (known as
音姫 or "Princess Sounds) so that while you tinkle other people only hear a rushing river. Now why that sound is preferable to the normal, human sound I'm not totally sure. But there it is. Some even have seats that massage your buttocks.
2. The Normal Toilet
This toilet is also Western style- the only difference between this one and one in the states is that when you flush you can choose between
BIG or small flush according to your needs.
3. The Japanese style toilet
This is a "squat" toilet. Now, while my apartment thankfully has style # 2, all the toilets at the Board of Education are Japanese style toilets.
So this is what I face everyday. I have learned many things so far in Japan. One is that women can, in fact, aim when they pee. Who knew?
On the plus side, there is a Princess Sound box on the side of the toilets at the BOE too, so at least I'm still civilized.