19 September 2008


Oi, Teme!
That's Japanese for Hey, Assholes!

This is bakagaijiin, guest posting for Miss Critiki. Today's post is all about poop. More specifically, all about poop (and pooping) in Japan. I decided on this topic after MC and I realized that we cannot have a conversation without some faeces-related comment being squeezed in. Actually, being "squeezed out" is more like it. And funnier. And more gross.

A rising fad here, more prevalent in the last two years I've been here, is the preponderance of poop. Cute poops on keychains, golden poops for cell phone charms, poop-topped pencils. Poop stickers, as evidenced by the picture at the top of this guest posting (the flowered background is a piece of origami paper). Neatly coiled pyramids of poop, in various colours, often anthropormorphised with faces. Yes. Faeces with faces.

Ladies and gentlemen, were I to get up off my fancy Japanese toilet, and see my poop peering up at me (even with a smile) I would flush that fucker posthaste. Such a situation would require a flush, a courtesy flush, a just-to-be sure flush and a holy-fucking-mother-of-god, I just shat out a turd with eyes flush. And probably several sessions of therapy.

But back to poop in Japan.

I honestly believe that due to the heavy amount of rice in the diet, Japan is probably one of the most constipated nations on the planet. I see lots of advertising for laxatives, etc. I also find that the society is a bunch of "tight asses" -- this is probably one of the most repressed and rigid societies I've seen. There's a nice juxtaposition there, huh? But then I learned that it wasn't just a physical thing, and that there's also some religious aspects about poop in Japan (no, I am serious) as well as some wordplay going on (folks who love puns and wordplay should learn both spoken and written Japanese ). Let me go into further detail.

Japan has less than a 2% Christian population. The main religions are Shintoism and Buddhism. Buddhism, with it's Zen serenity, pretty doesn't give a shit about anything. (hahahaha, I'm full of 'em in this post, aren't I) however, Shintoism or Animism, with its emphasis on deities for everything, does. Because guess what? There are spirits related to health and wellness in Shintoism, including specific gods for bodily functions, collectively known as benjo-gami ( literally privy-spirits). A specific example of such is the god Haniyasu. Images of these benjo-gami were (are) placed around or even under the privy.

As far as health goes, what is the one of the best indicators of health? Yup. Poop. But why the quintessential Japanese crap possess a shape that is disturbingly reminiscent of a soft-serve ice cream?

Traditional Japanese toilets (loathed and feared by gaijin everywhere) are of the squat kind. They're oblong and shallow. And dry. Unlike western toilets, there's no water in the thing until you flush. When you poop, the poop collects in the toilet. If everything is working properly, when you examine your turd (this is called kenben in Japanese) you'll hopefully get a coiled pile of crap, brownish, noisome, somewhat firm but not hard, maybe with some corn in it (and hopefully with no blood). Since Shinto gods are always depicted in an idealized form, a poop icon representing the benjo-gami would be that coiled pile idealized -- a perfectly coiled soft-serve shape. It made me think twice about ordering chocolate ice-cream. For a while, anyway.

The proper word for poop (faeces) in Japanese is daiben. A very polite (and I think obtuse) word is Otuuj. An archiac word for it is edo (aslo used in Zen for referring to the illusory and false material world) and another old word is fujou. If you were to smash your thumb, you'd say "Kuso!" (loudly, too!) Now, the colloquial Japanese word for (healthy) poop is Unko or Unchi. Unchi is more like the kiddy verison - like poopy rather than poop. That U makes an OON sound. That OON sound is also the first sound in the Japanese word for luck or lucky. The words are altogether unrelated but it's the sort of wordplay and punning that is a huge part of the Japanese language and culture. So if you have a good shit - you're lucky, because you're healthy!

You should aim for a healthy unchi poop but what kind of other kinds of poop might you produce?

unpi - The Hershey Squirts. Angry ass. Backdoor/Green Apple Trots. Yup. Diarrhea.

unnyo - not diarrhea, but loose and not quite right.

ungo - A clinker. Hard, black and really stinky. You need to your eat veggies to get roughage.

If you made it this far without feeling sick, thanks for coming along. For your pleasure, a few random bits to end out my guest spot on Canary Tusks.

Potty training in Japan. A talking toilet is worse than a poop with a face!

Japanese toilets are dual-flush. The handle is maked with the characters for "big" and "little".
One for pee, one for poop. Push or pull the handle depending on what you did. Unless you have a really fancy toilet with electronic controls, then you just push the appropriate button.

All kinds of poopy things.

The little poops with smiling faces used as charms, knickknacks and other decor that I mentioned are referred to as unchikun. The -kun suffix being a affection diminutive added to a (male) person's name (girls use -chan). In addition to charms, stuffed toys, and other gewgaws, you can get Mr. Poop Candy.

A robot that scoops up snow and poops it out in brick form.

How about an ancient Japaneses beauty secret? A poop facial. Hahahaha. You sick coprophiles, it isn't quite what you think. More about Uguisu no Fun.

It is also believed that if you step in horse shit, you'll be able to run faster. This is an old samurai superstition, probably stemming from the idea that horses can run fast, so there must be something in them that allows them to do so and it is passed into the poop.

Here's hoping you don't step in any horseshit and have happy, healthy poops.

See you soon!