Sunday, January 22, 2012

Little differences

As is often the case when first arriving in a new country, you are most impressed by little differences.  As time goes by, these little differences seem less and less impressive until you almost forget about them, only to be reminded by a visitor when they exclaim at them once again.

I wanted to start a list of "little differences" from our first impressions of Japan so that I don't forget about them all.

Kitchen and bathroom faucets - mind you, these are just in our hotel room so far, but these are the type with the single, slightly upwardly curved, faucet handle.  In every other part of the world, you would push these up to turn them on, and down to turn the off.  Here, it's the opposite.  Frequently we will accidentally turn the faucet strength all the way up in our effort to turn it off...

Bath faucet - this is best illustrated with a picture:

Neat, huh?  The big white dial is a preset for the water amount you wish to fill the tub with (I think, I've not used it yet).  The knob below turns on the bath water (turn right) or the shower (turn left), increasing the strength depending on how far you keep turning it.  The temperature you ask?  That's the knob to the right with the numbers on it.  What does this all add up to?  Precise temperature every time, no need to fiddle.  Just twist the bottom knob in either shower or tub direction and presto...water comes out at exactly the temperature you want it.  Pretty nifty actually.

Toilet seats - I've only had the privilege once so far of truly putting one of these to use.  We don't have a fancy one in our hotel.  The accuracy of the automatic spray is truly astonishing...wouldn't be surprised if there are little tracking devices under there to pinpoint the stream of water that shoots out at the touch of a button.   Another knob to the side controls the strength of the spray, and you hit the first knob to stop it.  Of course, the seats are heated.  And I'm pretty sure I was using a base model, as the (wireless) controls on the toilet in Tully's Coffee were truly something to behold.  I think I could get used to this...

Toilet flushers - In Germany there were usually 2 settings to flush the toilet, one for a full flush, one for partial.  The same here, except instead of pressing one of 2 buttons, it's usually a twisted knob that you twist one way or the other depending on the flush.

Free water - Truly one of the most irritating things about Germany was the lack of (ungrudging) free water available.  If you wish to purchase a minuscule bottle of water brought from some glacier in the alps, you can spend the 3-5 euro it costs.  If you wish to opt out, you might be refused outright, but if not, you are certainly considered a cheapskate and/or weird for wishing to drink "leitungswasser" (i.e. pipe-water).  This is not something Germans would dream of considering.  Here we are often brought glasses of water without even asking (!) and sometimes a pitcher of water is conveniently already placed at the table.  The relief we feel at not having to deal with this issue is almost physical.

That's all for now...maybe we'll do another one of these once we are in our house for the little odd things we'll find there.

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