Japanese Toilet Sound Effect Questionnaire

I stopped visiting women’s bathrooms at least a decade ago, after there were some misunderstandings and an incident. Let us draw a veil across these matters.

Now I only go into the women’s bathroom so when some cafe owner decides to replace the good old traditional German letters (D for Damen; H for Herren) with something pretentious and confusing. This is, unfortunately, not rare. One bar in my town features a picture of a sun one one door, and a picture of a moon on the other. WTF? Unless you know German, you’re not going to catch on that in German, "sun" is a feminine noun, and "moon" masculine. (No, there was no "neutral" bathroom, even though German has a "neutral" gender).

But now, there’s a chance to go into the womens’ bathroom without fear of misunderstandings or injunctions. A friend recently sent me a questionnaire distributed by a graduate student at the Kyushu School of Design. She wants to know — well, I’ll just quote the thing.

Questionnaire Survey on Attitudes
toward a Sound Masking Device for Toilet

In Japan, there is a unique sound effect device in many women’s restrooms: a sound masking device for toilet. This device functions to produce the sound of flushing water without the need for actual flushing. To mask the sound of bodily functions, women tend to flush public toilets continuously while using them. As a result, they waste large amounts of water in the process. If a sound masking device is used instead of flushing the toilet several times, then a large amount of water can be saved. Therefore, this sound device was introduced to public toilets to preserve water.

A questionnaire survey was conducted in Japan to investigate the attitudes of people toward such devices. …The survey also aimed to clarify differences in such attitudes according to gender, age, and nationality (ethnic). We would appreciate your understanding to the aims of our research, and your cooperation to this questionnaire.

Female prudery — Environmental Public Enemy #1. (Can’t you just picture the propaganda poster?). Seriously, if you’d like to help save the oceans by confirming the market for "sound effect devices" in women’s toilets across the world, you can download the questionnaire here and the response sheet here.

I’ve already filled out the questionnaire. Of course, I expressed my strong support for a masking sound effect device. However, I suggested more festive sound effects, such as a cannon, or an excerpt from Beethoven’s Ninth. Or this, or this, or this, or this, or this…[ok, that’s enough — ed.]

[Hat-tip: Nanna]

8 thoughts on “Japanese Toilet Sound Effect Questionnaire

  1. It’s the same for men at dinner parties here in Europe. No-one wants the sound of a urine stream splashing into a toilet bowl to be audible at the table only meters away.

    We just use the sink instead, and pretend we are washing our hands.


  2. I doubt I would have understood the Sun/Moon thing, especially not in a bar when I have drunken a couple of beers ­čÖé


  3. Actually I bet they do also cause problems with German customers since most would consider moon and sun as female and male symbols respectively, not minding the grammatical gender. Grammar is not something people tend to ponder about consciously. I for sure would have taken the sun door. Are you sure you *are* taking the right door in that pub, Andrew? ­čÖé

    Well, I’m just glad they didn’t choose a necktie (DIE Krawatte, female) and a bra (DER B├╝stenhalter, male).


  4. You┬┤re right,nat: my first reaction would be getting into the “Moon┬┤s loo”!

    What about places where the restrooms may be shared by men and women? What neutral figure would they put? I suggest simply “DAS Klo”,hehe


  5. That’s funny. I (male) would have taken the sun door because in Greek and Roman mythology the Sun is male and the Moon is female. I guess native speakers would think about anything except grammar.

    Of course, in Nordic mythology it’s just like in German grammar, but people are much more familiar with Greece and Rome.


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