Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I would also like to ask...

Further to my fruit love post, I also meant to question how people here know to peel their fruit? What are parents doing to turn their children into Peelers? Is it simply that they follow the examples of those who came before or do they verbalize it to little Michiko and Hiroshi?

This brings to mind a few other learned habits that I have been thinking about as of late. They mostly relate to women but gentlemen, I would appreciate any Y chromosome input as well. First, how is it that any Japanese woman worth knowing knows to carry a hand towel, folding umbrella, oil-blotting papers and small stationery store in her purse? If you're away from home and need something, chances are its in the purse of the woman standing next to you. Now maybe I'm of the simple-purse-contents camp, which is regardless of culture, but damn these women are prepared!

Another example: the toilet paper triangles. I doubt men have experienced this in public washrooms but if they've had a Japanese lady friend over, they may have witnessed the elusive TPT. The purse stuff I can see coming from one's mother, maybe. But the TPT? Here's where it gets a little more tricky. For the uninitiated, I have been in more toilet stalls in Japan in which the end of the TP roll is folded into a neat, polite little triangle. We are not talking about hotels where the last person in the washroom was the attentive maid, this is in toilets across the nation. It's like the Japanese secret handshake for women, folding our TP ends into triangles for the next woman down the line. I usually skip the TPT, not being accustomed to doing origami while using the toilet, but I have added it to my ever-growing list of Japan paranoia. For example, if I am at a small bar and I use the washroom, the TP is getting folded. Who knows who will use the washroom next, discover a non-origamid TP end, and come to the conclusion that I am unfit to be a lady, having grown up in a non-TPT environment. I know I'm crazy, but what would you do if you had to contend with TPT everyday?

7 comments:

xf said...

Isn't TPT just a sign that it's cleaned so that only cleaners and maids do? On the other hand, I heard hostesses (like in Ginza) practice it to make it to look like it's cleaned . To me, it seems to be what some people believe to be a ladylike manner like keeping one's little finger straight up when holding a tea cup or whatever.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

I'd like to think so, but I've seen enough of it in domestic/more private situations and public situations where the person before me wasn't a maid. Or a hostess. If women are going to take the trouble to fold the TP I'd like to see some more creativity in their choice of origami shape.

xf said...

Really interesting that I hardly see it, living in Tokyo as well... Maybe your environment is more Japanese??

Those women should go to Mexico to learn. Check out the 4th photo.
http://boyoboyo.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2008/04/post_da70.html

selena said...

Hi, first comment, and on an old post!

I talked about this phenomenon with some of my corporate lady students who say that they do this.

I can (sort of) see the logic of it when the cleaning staff has been in, as a "this toilet has been cleaned" sign.

But... it kinda weirds me out when the other folks do it because... they've finished using the toilet. They've probably touched the flush handle, if there is one. But they haven't yet washed their hands. And they're handling the toilet paper. I'm not a germaphobe. But ew.

My ladies had no answer for this. You?

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

selena- Thanks for commenting and reminding me that my research is not done! If you start to think about it from a "someone touched my TP" perspective, then yeah, it gives me the heeby jeebies. I should ask around more but I think it is just seen as a polite way of leaving the toilet, the way you would make sure everything flushed or the seat is clean for the next person...but how do they KNOW to do it?!?!

selena said...

They learn it from the same person who decreed that every lady must carry a delicate washcloth in their purse for blotting their hands after washing.

I enjoy your site, thank you!

Edo said...

I had to do that when cleaning the bathroom at my short restaurant gig in Kyoto... but I thought it was just my sad little minimum-wage self shouldering the burden! Maybe Kansai women in general aren't as worried about their toiletries... I'll have to investigate this further.