The IUSB Vision

Toilet Battles—Western or Asian style?
By Naoko Fujimoto

“Oh the bathroom! I wish it was the exact same as Asian style!” screams a student from Japan. A student from Taiwan added, “It is a kind of embarrassing to use American bathrooms” and another student from Thailand said, “American bathrooms have no privacy!” Some Asian students complain about precise differences between Western and Asian style restrooms.

Let’s imagine restrooms at IUSB. When someone is in a bright red stall at Wiekamp, you can see the person’s legs, which means the door has a space to show somebody is in it. The space would be helpful for security reasons, etc; however, the door is one of the reasons Asian students feel uncomfortable.

Most Asian bathrooms have full cover doors, which mean that you cannot see inside and need to knock on the door to make sure nobody is in it. You may think that it is not good for security but there are emergency call buttons in most restrooms and stalls. If you are in a stall and a person knocks your door, you scream, “Somebody is in here!”

Asian bathrooms promise a very nice private room with a music box, called Oto Hime. A Japanese bathroom company, To To Toilet, exploit noise problems and relaxation in the stalls. Some people are embarrassed when they make bathroom noises; therefore, they flush twice—before and after—using bathrooms. The company produces the music boxes, which make the sound of running water, classical music, etc so when those sensitive people use the bathroom, they just push a button to reduce the noise.

Moreover, some music boxes have emergency call buttons just in case something happens in the stall. Now the music boxes are popular in any kind of public restroom, even schools in some Asian countries, especially Japan. The music boxes decrease wasting water and promise users relaxation and a safe environment while in the restroom.

In addition, a reason for the full cover door is differences between Western and Asian style toilet seats. Western toilets are like chairs; however, some Asian toilets are not like the chair style. People stride over a toilet and squat, so they need to hide themselves with the full cover doors. To keep those traditional Asian toilets clean, there is a sweeper in each public restroom, so in some Asian countries people tip the sweepers one to two cents after using.

However, if IUSB wants to adapt for those minority opinions—it may be difficult to exchange all doors for Asian students but they may be able to adopt the music box idea since people in the stall can feel more relaxed and safe— IUSB needs to budget about two hundreds dollars for each music box. So if IUSB adds the idea to the library, it needs at least fifteen music boxes. (Hope they find some discounts for educational industries.)

The most important thing is that bathrooms should be clean and safe. Some bathrooms at IUSB, especially some restrooms in Northside, may not be perfectly safe since not many people are around. If restrooms have enough toilet paper, soap, paper towels, sanitary maintenances, and security, the bathroom should be perfect. Flush away any cultural differences if you find the perfect restroom for you.