In Japan, people don’t sign important documents — they use a personal seal in the form of a stamp called a hanko or inkan.
(I spent quite a while trying to come up with a clever joke or pun to use as a title for this blog post, but then I decided to just be straightforward about it. Sorry folks, no jokes or puns here — this is serious shit. (Oh, wait…))
Never in my life has taking a crap been so enjoyable.
I’m talking specifically about the Japanese Washlet (ウォシュレット Washoretto).
This is the toilet in our apartment:
Apart from the fact that the toilet is housed in a separate room from the rest of the bathroom (that is, the shower and sink are in another room), it looks normal enough, right?
Lift the lid and it’s more or less what you’d expect:
But wait! What’s that written on the lid? Are those… instructions?
Don’t ask me, I actually have no idea. My Japanese proficiency is still less than that of an infant.
Look to the side, and you’ll see this:
However, it’s when you sit down that things really get interesting.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the seats are heated. When it comes to actually using the washlet, as I mentioned before, my Japanese reading ability is still next to nil, so learning how to operate this thing took some trial and error (don’t worry, there are no photos of that).
The only words I could understand right off the bat were おしり (oshiri), which our friend Michael taught me a few days ago (in a conversation about Brazilian women, no less) was the Japanese word for “ass;” ビデ (bide) is, as it sounds, the word for “bidet.” 水 is the kanji meaning “water,” so I figured that whatever that little button on the top right-hand corner was had something to do with… water (my deduction skills are impeccable, no?).
Despite the language barrier, it’s all actually pretty straightforward:
The おしり button shoots a jet of water at the bit that that needs the most cleaning.
The ビデbutton is one for the ladies, spraying water at the front bits. As such, this button is usually accompanied by a drawing of a female.
The yellow button next to this is a blow dryer.
You can also control the intensity of the water jet, as well as add some pulsing action to it. Other washlets are even fancier than the one in our apartment. For instance, some public toilets play music or a loud audio clip of falling water to mask the other sounds that may escape you as you go about your business.
When you’re done, just like in a normal toilet, you’ll need to flush.
大 (ookii) means “big,” while 小 (chiisai) means “small,” so pushing the handle up will result in a large flush, while pushing down will cause a smaller flush, thus saving water.
Seriously, you guys, toilets in Japan are amazing. I mean, how have I lived without a washlet for all these years? How can I ever go back to pooping in normal toilets? Nay, not normal — inferior.
Holy crap — this is life-changing stuff.
It didn’t really hit me that we were moving to Tokyo until we actually stepped off the plane at Narita Airport.
I’d spent my last few days in Santa Monica dealing with the logistics of our move, frantically selling our furniture on Craigslist, attempting to pack our entire lives into however many boxes could fit into 150 cubic feet, and then throwing away the rest. I’d slept maybe eight hours in three days. There was simply no time to get excited or scared or even emotionally acknowledge our move.
Even during the 11-hour flight from LAX to NRT, during which you’d think that I’d have ample opportunity to pause and reflect on the situation, I managed to keep myself distracted with movies and sleep. It really wasn’t until we stepped through the jet bridge, luggage in tow, the hot, humid air enveloping my body in instant sweat, that it finally hit me:
HOLY FUCK. We’re moving to Japan. No — scratch that — we’re in Japan. To live here.
I recently spoke with my alma mater for a brief story they were doing about TLoU on the VFS Blog. In it, I talk about my time at Vancouver Film School, my experience working on The Last of Us, and what I’ve got coming up, among other things.
They’ve just posted it today, so If you’re interested, you can check out the full interview here:
Yesterday marked the first Fourth of July since moving to the states that I didn’t have to work. (I’ve just realized that I’ve spent the past three years of my life — pretty much the entire time I’ve lived in the USA — in near-constant crunch).
My Fourth of July was glorious — I woke up late, called my Mom, sat around and did nothing for a while, played Tomb Raider, walked to the beach. We then had sushi with REAL AMERICANS a.k.a. our friends Michael, Kathy, and their significant others. It was a very authentic way to celebrate.
As it so happens, my country commemorated the day of its independence this week as well, as Canada Day is July 1st. I didn’t get a chance to celebrate since I had to work that day, but I did take the time to read an article in Maclean’s, describing the 99 reasons why it’s apparently better to be Canadian. I was incredibly disgusted to read what was essentially an America-bashing fest, and coming from Maclean’s, a supposedly reputable news magazine, I was doubly disappointed. And I thought we were supposed to be the polite ones.
Well, don’t expect any nasty spitefulness from this Canadian, at least. Instead, in honour of this American holiday, I present to you my tribute to my favourite American city — Los Angeles.