Sitting or taking a stand: Japanese men ponder pride in urination etiquette

Shukan Post June 18
Shukan Post June 18

Mr. Kaneko, a fictional name, who works for a printing company in Tokyo, recently noticed a posting, written in red, on the office wall: “Gentlemen, please sit on the toilet even when you are going to urinate. Women are fed up with the situation.”

Mr. Kaneko tells the tabloid that there is only one Western-style toilet in the office and office ladies have been assigned with its cleaning, which appears to have become a substantial task.

At a meeting called by Mr. Kaneko to discuss the toilet trouble, the situation escalated whereby women began bombarding the assembled with terse remarks: “Who is making this ‘pond’ of urine around the toilet seat?’ ‘Please think of those who have to clean it. I am sure this is largely due to the fact that you stand up to urinate.’

Since a boss-subordinate relationship was not being respected, Mr. Kaneko had to concede, and, since that day, male employees have been trained to sit when they urinate.

According to Shukan Post (June 18), this conflict represents a shift in bathroom protocol, one in which men are converting to “sitting style.”

A survey of 500 males by bathroom equipment maker Toto indicates that 33.4% of males sit when doing their business at home, a figure that has been rising steadily since 2004. A reason for the change, reports Toto, is an interest in not “inconveniencing other family members,” particularly women.

Consumer products company Lion found that 2,300 drops of urination, on average, are found near a commode. Most of this is mist (droplets measuring less than 2 mm in diameter) but it is the source of the pungent odor that commonly develops thereafter. A representative from Lion’s public relations department explains: “Staphylococcus bacteria, found on the floor or on the walls, breaks down the urine and increases the ammonia concentration. Sulfur-containing substances are also produced, which creates the smell. It is similar to cheese that has gone bad.”

Toto also found that half of those who answered that they sit are concerned about “unintended urine spray.” Consideration in this regard is spreading among celebrities, too. Singer and comedian Naoki Hanawa says, “I cannot control it well these days. With my wife getting upset, I sit when doing my business.” Nobuyoshi Kuwano, another entertainer, adds, “My son, who is sixth grade, does it standing. I choose to sit…While it may be considered cool to stand and do it, if you miss, it’s not cool after all.”

Urologist Shinya Iwamuro believes that the main reason for the misdirected urine is that 60% of Japanese men have not been fully circumcised. “They have to peel off their covered area while they do their business,” he says. “With less skin covering, the aim improves.”

“It is best to ensure that the stream and water basin are not perpendicular,” he advises. “By decreasing the angle of entry, there will be a reduction in the magnitude of urine bounce-back.”

The urologist, however, believes that standing is a part of a man’s pride. “While there is a risk of making the toilet dirty, to simply concede by sitting shows how men are becoming weaker.”

Perhaps just more pissing and moaning? Shukan Post leaves that determination to you, dear reader. (K.N.)

Source: “Otoko no shonben daironso,” Shukan Post (June 18, pages 142-143)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.

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3 Comments

  1. Does this fear of spraying explain why so many J-blokes just plonk their tackle out in public parks, under bridges and beside roads to relive themselves?

    The same happens in Blighty, but at least we have the excuse of being completely pissed at the time. Though not me officer. I never drink. Or urinate.

    • This concern about sanitation does seem to clash a bit with everyday practice. Taxi drivers never seem to hesitate. I saw a guy whip it out right in the middle of the outdoor Asakusa izakaya area not long ago. Note: he was wearing a white breathing mask.

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