We've all seen them: the signs on the doors with either an Asian-style squat toilet or a Western-style seat toilet. To a foreigner here, a squat toilet can be scary. It's suddenly like you're a toddler again and learning how to go potty without your mommy or daddy's help. But for the Korean who is now getting used to the new, Western-style toilets that are creeping their way into Korean public restrooms, they can seem just as foreign and scary.
The Asian-style Squat Toilet
Since moving to Korea, I have not only learned how to use these squat toilets, but also learned to love them. They're comfortable and easy to use, but most of all, they're clean. There's no need to touch anything---no cheeks on the seats, no fingers on the flushers (they have foot pedals instead).
They're certainly an upgrade from the squat toilets I experienced in Africa, which were usually no more than a hole in the ground. Sandals plus a difficult target...you get the picture. Some so-called "toilets" didn't even have a hole, but were just a slab of concrete behind a door. At least then when you peed all over your feet you did it in private, right?
So, yes, I was pleasantly surprised that I could learn to love these little loos. To spread the joy, I thought I'd post this how-to picture I spotted in a stall during my travels in Japan. It's the first time I'd seen a picture for the squatter; usually it's the other way around, which brings me to...
The Western-style Seat Toilet
As the less-common toilet style here, these pictures are a lot more frequent. (The bottom-right picture always makes me laugh.) The plus-side for these Johns is their laziness factor---it's certainly easier to take a seat than to balance yourself over the squatter-style ones. But, on the other hand, I know a lot of ladies out there don't even sit on the seats for fear of getting booty germs or finding a wayward drop from the last user (you know they're out there).
Now when you're in Asia and nature calls, as it does, you can relieve yourself with confidence---no matter which stall you choose.