Tag Archives: second class passage

Meet The Squat Toilet

After my night under the overpass with the winos, I decided to leave Tokyo. According to my guide book, ferries ran from Tokyo to points south. I found the ferry office and booked passage to Tokushima on Shikoku. I hailed a cab and after several circuits around the docklands and two stops to ask policemen for directions, the cabbie dropped me off at the correct quay. The ship had staterooms but I had booked second class passage. Second class was a large common room at the rear of the ship. Long distance truckers had a similar room on the next deck down. They had a large bath. We had shower cubicles. The common room was floored with tatami mats. Linoleum pathways divided it into three sections. There were no seats. One simply sat on the floor and watched the ocean roll by outside the large windows. Or watched the strange foreigner inside. At night you could rent a blanket for ¥100. Many people rented an extra blanket to make a pillow. Two young girls rented two between them, using one as a pillow and sharing the other.

Food service in second class consisted of a cart with rice balls, tea, canned drinks, and packaged treats. It was a three day voyage to Tokushima, so it was inevitable I would have to use the facilities. The facilities consisted of a squat toilet. My guidebook had warned me of squat toilets. They are basically a toilet bowl set into the floor. You face what we would consider the back and squat over it. I had even practiced at home before setting out for Japan, squatting low with my feet a toilet bowl width apart. Up to this point I had only encountered western style sitting toilets which were quite common. Now I faced my first squat toilet. On a ship. Rolling in heavy seas. With the walls just too far apart to brace myself.

I leave you to finish this story on your own. It’s still just too traumatic.