The Japanese Toilet and the Chinese CrapTranslated by Vivian L., Edited by Karen L., Written by 翼雙飛 (Wing Wing)
I am told that an article by the name "Beijing University Student Embarrasses Japanese Reporter" has been a hit on the web since it came out a few years ago. [Translator note: The article, originally written in simplified Chinese, began to spread as early as 2010 among blogs and social media in mainland China. It is presumably an interview between a Japanese reporter and a female Peking University student. The article comes with a subtitle that reads, "Without the use of a single swear word, the heroine snubs the Japs, winning applause of all".] But I only saw it today on Facebook. Though it could very well be a fabricated story, still, there's something in it that's worth talking about. Amount of truth aside, the fact that the article has been so popular in the Chinese blogosphere may actually shred some light on the Chinese frame of mind.
What catches my attention the most is this particular dialogue: On the question of boycotting Japanese goods, the reporter asks the 'heroine' whether she has ever used a product made in Japan. She replies, "Yes, a toilet." On the sound of "toilet", her fellow students burst into laughter.
I can't help but wonder what is so funny about Japanese toilets. It is just hard to fathom why fully grown and well educated persons would find the mention of bodily functions of pee and poo funny. I would suppose, "Ooh, you pooped! HAHAHAHA!!!" is something I expect to hear from an innocent preschooler or a babbling toddler, even. But university students? Seriously?
Funnier still, if, for the sake of argument, the Japanese reporter retorted, "Oh right, of course. Our toilets don't explode." One thing for sure, the "heroine" would have succeeded in making an exhibition of herself.
A Japanese bidet-style toilet
(source: Tzuhsun Hsu via Flickr）
But my friend Joe Gei disagrees, "Nah, sarcasm isn't a Japanese virtue. A real Japanese person would probably say, 'Domo arigato gozaimasu, dear madam, for your kind patronage to our craftsmanship!'" That's right, this might just add to the Chinese's humiliation.
The Beijing student might have assumed that making toilets is a disgraceful business and that using a toilet made in Japan would automatically bring shame and ridicule to the nation of Japan. But is it shame that is on the Japanese people's mind? It's perhaps anything but shame. The Japanese probably consider it a national pride that their exquisite technology has perfected toilet experiences of customers overseas. The business of making and selling toilets is probably something the Japanese are proud of. And they are rightly so. The Japanese toilet has now won over a wide fan base across the globe because of its superior quality. But the Chinese mistake that being a customer of the Japanese-made toilet would humiliate its maker. They fail to realise that in doing so, the only people humiliated are themselves.
Back to the article. There is an idea carried throughout the piece—"Japanese runts are despicable":
The Japs don't face up to history. The Japs claim they own Diaoyu Islands? To hell with their crap! The islands have been a part of Chinese territory "since ancient times"!
Watching the Chinese argue indignantly without any grounds is quite a spectacle. So China, go show the Japanese who's boss. Go to war with Japan! Economic sanctions at the very least!
Canon: Capturing every boycott Japan moment
When Lu Xun's Ah Q gets beaten by random strangers, he says to himself, "A son beating his father. What the world is coming to nowadays!" This is Ah Q's way of achieving "spiritual victories".
The Chinese take it to the next level. When the Chinese feel "provoked" by the Japanese, they gnash their teeth in frustration and make up this so-called "interview" to feel good about themselves—as if in a kind of psychological masturbation—and delude themselves into a delirium of superiority. So the Chinese retaliate, "What is the big deal about these Japs? They are nothing more than toilet makers. Look at me, it is I who poo on your toilet. Take that, you runts!"
More than 80 years have lapsed since Lu Xun's time, but the spirit of Ah Q lives on ever more vivaciously in the great nation of China.
(Note: The issues of toilets are in fact a serious matter. The World Toilet Organization (WTO) holds yearly summit to address the subject of toilet and sanitation. Members of the WTO come from 177 countries. The WTO has organized World Toilet Expo around the world in countries such as India, Singapore and South Korea.)
The World Toilet Organisation:
The World Toilet Summit 2013: