Saturday, June 28, 2008
Coins fall out when he shakes his magic mallet. In his other hand, he carries a sack of treasure. He's depicted standing on two bales of rice, representing wealth.
I was quite impressed when I saw him at the Kiyomizu temple, Kyoto.
Of course, I really wanted him to like me (ie. grant me lots of sweet moolah). So I approached him with confidence and pleaded my cause.
Did it work? I don't know. Talk to my team of offshore accountants. Ha. Cha Ching!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Of course, nothing prepared me--least of all the jet lag and language barrier--for the technological complexities of the Japanese toilet. This thing has more features than my car.
Now imagine, if you will, a certain someone who shall remain nameless, stumbling off a 14-hour flight from New York. She sleepwalks her way through customs, nearly collapsing face-down on the baggage claim. Her 8-hour bladder is stretched beyond maximum capacity. It drags her into the closest bathroom and plops her down on this technological wonder.
Peeing with the ferocity of a racehorse, she perks up just enough to survey her strange new surroundings. What an interesting doorknob this bathroom has. And the doors. They're truly private, extending from floor to ceiling and side to side without cracks. And what, come to think of it, is she sitting on? What are these buttons for?
She makes a game attempt to read the instructions, but impatience interrupts her as her finger finds one of the buttons.
Hm, the illustration is of a musical note. Could it be an iPod/toilet? Only one way to find out.
She presses the button and is delighted to hear the sound of rushing water. Not real rushing water, mind you, sound effects! Why of course! To mask the unpleasant symphony one could otherwise hear in a public restroom. Brilliant.
Now she's on a roll. The task she came here for is quite over, but she's in no hurry to leave. She finds another button. Hm, this one shows a rounded "W" shape--meant to represent a bum--with what appears to be a gentle flow of water splashing it. Why yes, that could be nice. After all, her own bum is a world-travelling bum. It has experienced bidets, sitz baths, public baths, toilets that flush in the opposite direction, eco toilets, and the woodsy sans toilet experience.
She presses the button. This time, sounds coming from under her are quite mechanical and urgent sounding. Shifting parts, gears in motion. Like she's sitting on a Transformer about to change into an upright man-bot.
The toilet rattles, shifts and then, silence. Um, she thinks, is it...
Suddenly, a cold sharp sting hits her square in the bum hole. She yelps and jumps off the seat, pants around her knees and water dripping down her legs. The jet stream continues, now without an exposed bum hole to absorb the sheer force of the blast. It pounds against the stall door like a lawn sprinkler, and showers down onto our poor New Yorker's luggage.
Yelping again, our girl quickly surveys the instructions in search of an off switch. Nothing. She reaches under the stream for the buttons, indiscriminately jabbing at a few. This only makes the sound effects return. She presses the bum splashing button repeatedly, thinking that will switch it off. Nope. In fact, as the toilet continues to spray the door like a firefighter, she realises that pressing the button--a dozen times--only requests another dozen cycles.
Finally the last square inch of the stall is covered in toilet water; the stream grows flaccid and gradually abates.
Mustering up as much dignity as she can, she dries herself, pulls up her pants and wheels her wet suitcase outside to face the line of snickering women waiting for the stall.