What culture of Japan do you like the most?
By Marinette Ishizaki
This question is one of the most asked information from students visiting the CELF tutor sessions. Of course, it is also an interesting question that I find easy to answer without any second thoughts. Not only that, it often leads us to meaningful language learning and enjoyable conversations about Japan and my country, the Philippines.
In less than five seconds, I answered, “The toilet and everything in it.” Then, I would get the shy smiles and seemingly curious look from the students’ faces. As expected, the next question always leads to “Eeeh, why?” or “Really? Why?” So, I graciously explained that toilets in Japan are simply amazing and generally clean. I just gave one short answer because I do not want the students to get bored with my explanation. Then, another why question blurts out. To this, I then described that Japanese toilets have all the basic toilet necessities inside the nicely arranged cubicles. These cubicles are another plus point because users can enjoy a lot of privacy. In the toilet rooms, the wash sink is also separate from the powder or make-up area. Above all, there are lots of free toilet tissues, toilet seat cleaner, sanitizers, sensors and “magical” toilets that come with an innovative washlet and cool control panel for the spray, bidet, flushing sound and other strange buttons that I do not know their functions for.
By the time I was describing and explaining my answer, the students must have been bogged down with toilet vocabulary. One simple question led to an English vocabulary session as I began to write all the English words and show pictures of the things I just said. I told them that the best thing about the toilet experience in Japan is when I learned some useful Japanese words that saved me from embarrassing situations. I learned words like 流す/ながす(flush) ? my favorite toilet word, ビデ (bidet), おしり(spray or wash for our behind), パワー脱臭 (power deodorizer), 止/とまる (stop), 水勢/すいせい (water pressure), and many more. Thanks to the tutor whiteboard and pictures on Google, it made the description and explanation easier with satisfied responses from the students.
The students’ playful imagination may have led to one innocent question being asked about if there are toilets in the Philippines. I said there are toilets in my country, but they are not like the toilets and toilet rooms that Japanese enjoy here. Sometimes, some Japanese take their toilet culture for granted but it is one of the best in the world! For sure, I would love to bring this culture to my country one day where using the toilets could be very refreshing and interesting that is packed with some useful language experience, too.