Even at home, if I find myself without a notebook and I need to write things down, I do it in a text message on my cell phone and save it as a draft.  Here are just a few from these two weeks in Japan:

  1. Discussing the old style toilets we occasionally run into.  The positions you must be in when using them are Tai Chi moves.  You know, Fair Maiden Pulls the Weeds...Snake Creeps Down.
  2. Anthony: "...a chip off the ole polyglot, eh."
  3. Best toilet paper brand seen at the market: Silltty Roman.  Spelled just like that.
  4. Favorite Japanese phrase: Shouganai (it can't be helped).
  5. Sweet Japanese businessman who offered to take our picture for us.  "Ooookaaay.  threeee.  twoooo.  oonne.  zeellllooo!" *click*

I want to elaborate on the toilet thing.  My initial encounter with the toire in our room left me puzzling over the English translations posted on the wall, instructions for how to properly use this thing.

When you sit on the seat, automatically
the cold water flow.  Wait for "off"
the lamp to wash.

(it's like an alternative haiku if you read it right)

When you sit on the seat, "STAND BY" lamp
starts flashing, if you press [button that looks like water] upon seating,
you may have cold water spray.

There's also knobs and buttons and optional settings, such as "bide" written in katakana (pronounced bee-day), and "oshiri" in hiragana, which means butt.  It wasn't until I finally got the hang of things and started feeling spoiled by these genius toilets (most seats are heated!!  do you know what it feels like to be wandering through a foresty temple area with a full bladder in the middle of winter, find a small shack of a bathroom that looks straight out of the Meiji Era, and stumble inside the poorly lit walls, only to find yourself sitting on a futuristic, fully heated toilet seat!?!!  I was peeing left and right in those woods!!) when I encountered what Anthony had been saying he couldn't wait for one of us to encounter: the handlebars.  These are the old-style Japanese toilets that, for whatever reason, some building owners nostalgically choose to hold onto (hold on to, I said).  I call them by this name because there is literally a handlebar in the bathroom, and it's there so you can hold onto it.  Picture yourself riding a bicycle.  Only rather than each leg going up in turns, both legs are bent up at once.  Only instead of being on a bicycle, you're standing on the floor like this.  But the handlebars remain.

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