The other day, I went to use the restroom ("toilet") at school. The women's faculty restroom is on the 1st floor, and even though it is farther away from the office, I use it because it has the only "western" toilet in the school (along with 3 "eastern style" ones. All the "eahttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=31329864&postID=8475796422240394985stern" toilets are basically holes in the ground (or like urinals on the ground which you have to straddle) and I still haven't gotten used to them.
The Japanese have this belief that doors to the toilets should ALWAYS be closed- maybe it's because toiletes should not be in plain view or whatever... When I told them that the doors to our bathrooms are usually left open in our own homes, (but of course, closed in public places) I was given these looks of shock and horror. However, I explained that most of the time in American homes, our toilets are in the same room with the sink and tub/shower, and we keep the doors open for ventilation and also to show that there is no one using the bathroom.
Curiously enough, when I go into the faculty restroom, the door to the western toilet is closed, but the doors to the hole in the floor toilet are always open. Like those are a good view?!?
Anyway, back to the story. So the other day, I went to use the restroom. I came in, and turned on the lights as usual. I put my hand towel on the shelf above the sink (no paper towels in this country) and went to the "Western" toilet, where, of course, the door was closed. Out of habit, I knocked on the door (even though it was obvious that no one was in there since it was dark in there when I came in) and then opened the door.
AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! To my surprise, one of the young office secretaries was in there! AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!! I was horrified!!! She was horrified!!! We were both frantic. I'll spare the details but basically I just slammed the door shut and ran into one of the other stalls. I could hear her speaking in Japanese, flustered and muttering and I was like "sumimasen-ing" and "gomenasai-ing" while trying to get out of there as soon as possible.
OH MY GOD. But then, afterwards, I realized- hey- I gave MANY warnings that I was coming in... First, I turned on the lights, then I knocked on the door, and this girl didn't even lock the door to her stall! So was I in the wrong? I suppose not, but just the horror of opening the door on someone was a bit traumatizing. I'm sure it was probably more traumatizing for her though.
Anyway. Funny anecdote to tide you over until I finally update from my recent travels!