Toilet, Outhouse

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Toilet, Outhouse (benjo, no setchin, toire)

***** Location: Japan, Worldwide
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


A place that we all use frequently ...
and do not miss the stories about the toilet slippers of Japan below!


Quote from the Japan Times
Perhaps you have not paid much attention to men's restrooms in Japan, but in the vast majority of public toilets the urinals and the men using them are completely visible to anyone passing by. Do you think this is done on purpose? Or is it just the result of bad design? Japanese are generally very discreet, so it's hard to understand why the heck they are so public about this one thing.

Believe me, this is something that's hard not to notice. I too have wondered about the open nature of answering the call of nature, so I was more than happy to take your question over to the Japan Toilet Association. Chairman Koo Ue gave me a gracious reception but confessed he couldn't quite understand why we were asking.

"Is this so surprising for foreigners?" he queried. "Can't you see into men's restrooms in other countries?"

Read the rest of the story HERE !
Men's restrooms in Japan, Alice Gordenker, December 2006

The surprized answer of the Japanese made me aware once again of the difficult problems of cross-cultural understanding.
The same toilet, BUT ...

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

Outhouse in the open, no setchin 野雪隠, is an old Japanese expression, but the THING is still used today.
Take a look HERE !

"place to wash your hands" o te arai お手洗い
This is often mis-pronounced by foreigners in Japan, when asking in need for the place, Where is the temple? O tera お寺.

"place of convenience" benjo 便所
Look at some HERE !

More old names :
kawaya 厠
habakari 憚り


Quote from the Wikipedia
During the Jomon period, settlements were built in a horseshoe shape, with a central plaza in the middle and garbage heaps around the settlement. In these garbage heaps, calcified fecal remains of humans or dogs, so called coprolites, were found,[8] indicating that these garbage dumps were also used as toilets.

The earliest sewer systems are from the Yayoi period (300 BC to A.D. 250).[9][10] These systems were used in larger settlements, probably in combination with toilets. A possible ritual site, that may also have been a toilet using flowing water, dating back to the early 3rd century was found in Sakurai, Nara.[8]

Another cesspit analyzed by archaeologists in detail was found at the site of the Fujiwara Palace in Kashihara, Nara, the first location of the imperial city from 694 to 710.[8] This toilet was constructed over an open pit similar to an outhouse. During the Nara period (710 to 784), a drainage system was created in the capital in Nara, consisting of 10-15 cm wide streams where the user could squat over with one foot on each side of the stream.

Wooden sticks called chu-gi were used as a sort of toilet paper.[8][11] In earlier days seaweed was used for cleaning,[12] but by the Edo period, these had been replaced by toilet paper made of washi (traditional Japanese paper).[13][14] In the mountainous regions, wooden scrapers[11] and large leaves were used too.

Often, toilets were constructed over a running stream; one of the first known flushing toilets was found at Akita castle, dating back to the 8th century, with the toilet constructed over a diverted stream.[8] However, historically, pit toilets were more common, as they were easier to build and allowed the reuse of the feces as fertilizer[15]—very important in a country where Buddhism and its associated vegetarianism acted to reduce dependence on livestock for food, though seafood has always been an important part of the Japanese diet.

In fact, the waste products of rich people were sold at higher prices because their diet was better.[12] Various historic documents dating from the 9th century describe laws regarding the construction of fresh and waste water channels, and detail the disposal procedures for toilet waste.[8]

© Wikipedia: Read it all HERE ! !!!!!


".. old people want to die without suffering from long-term illness so that their family members would not have to provide care for them such as helping them to the toilet and changing diapers."
. pokkuri  ぽっくり amulets for a sudden death, "drop dead" .

Worldwide use


In Goa, India, we used the "Pig Toilet".
Charly, the white toilet pig, would wait outside when somebody headed toward the open shed in the back of the garden. You enter the throne room with two steps and while you squat up there, Charly comes grunting from below and waits for his breakfast.
This kind of toilet never smells bad, Charly is very efficient.

And the white pigs are never eaten in Goa, only the black pigs end up roasted.
Gabi Greve

toilet outside a village in the Dharmsala, Himalaya, where the Tibetans live in exile.
- Visiting India in 1978 -



Photo by Antony Njoroge

hot sun --
sweet potato leaves narrow
the toilet path

Caleb David Mutua
Kenya Saijiki Forum, Feb. 2010

Things found on the way

Japanese God of the Toilet
kawaya no kami 厠の神
厠神 Benjogami
Kookagami 後架神 Kokagami

source : apgdj
がんばり入道ほととぎす ganbari nyuudoo hototogisu
Ganbari Nyūdō 加牟波理入道 is a Yokai monster "God of the toilet".
He is said to disappear if you chant the above proverb, but show up if you do that on the last day of the year.
If you chant this proverb on the last day of the year, it will bring bad luck.
- More about this Yokai monster:
. Ganbari Nyūdō 加牟波理入道 Ganbari Nyudo .

There are male (earth) and female (water) deities, which were created from the excrements of the old god Izanami. My details are here:
Haniyasu Hiko no Kami, the male God
Haniyasu Hime no Kami, the female God

Nandina (nanten) grows wild in our area, mostly in the place of the toilets of old. The farmers tell me it pleases the deity of the toilet.

I have written about the Japanese God of the Toilet and ways to appease him.

The Gods of the Elements - Gabi Greve

setchin ni sae kami arite ume no hana

even the outhouse
has a guardian god...
plum blossoms

Kobayashi Issa
Tr. David Lanoue

- - - - - Tr. and comment by Chris Drake :
even the god
of the outhouse is back --
plum blossoms

This is a somewhat mysterious hokku. It is from the end of the 10th month (November), and the next two hokku in Issa's diary are about greeting gods returning home from the Izumo Shrine in western Honshu, where all the gods in the land have gathered for their annual divine conference during the 10th month according to Shinto tradition. The 10th month is also called the "Godless Month," since the gods of Japan are "not" in the normal areas where they "are" for the other eleven months because they have gone to Izumo. The second line of Issa's hokku seems to imply that at the end of the 10th month -- right now -- the gods have all returned, and even the outhouse god "is here" once more.

Plum blossoms are normally a 1st-month (February) spring image. When Issa writes a hokku about a season different from the one he's in, he is usually careful to write the season of the hokku up above the hokku, but there is no special seasonal indication above this hokku, so it's probably a winter hokku. Perhaps the plum tree near the outhouse has bloomed early, something plums are known to do occasionally. My guess is that the plum tree is blooming early and that Issa takes this as a sign that even the outhouse god, who had been away, has now returned from Izumo after the big conference of the gods there. The outhouse god "is" in the small structure once more. Perhaps Issa can see the plum blossoms through the outhouse window.

The privy or outhouse god (kawaya-gami) was one of the most important household gods, along with the hearth/fire and well/water gods, and newborn children were taken to "greet" the outhouse god on the third day after birth. Depending on the location, the god was believed to be either female or a male-female pair, so Issa's hokku may be about a pair of gods, not one god, although there's no indication of singular or plural here. What seems to surprise Issa isn't that the outhouse is the habitation of a god -- something that's very common in folk belief. What he seems to find interesting is that the plum tree near the privy is blooming already and that this seems to indicate that the god/gods is/are back in the outhouse along with him. The hokku seems to be about companionship --and humorous in tone.

The same god was also the god of the village birth hut or huts (ubuya), where women gave birth and which only women could enter. The traditional word for outhouse was kawaya or "river hut," since it was usually built near or by a stream or river, but Issa uses setchin, a word that came to Japan along with Buddhism. It apparently was the name of a Chinese monk, but its characters (雪隠) literally mean "snow, hidden," making it an elegant euphemism. The word is no longer as widely used as it was in Issa's time.

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 Issa in Edo .


. Legends about Fudo Myo-O お不動さま .

In some regions of Japan, Fudo is venerated as the Deity of the Toilet
Benjo no Fudo Son 便所の不動尊
Benjogami no O-Fudo-Sama 便所神のオフドウサマ

- - - - - - - - - -
Akita 秋田県 - Yokote 横手
During the New Year rituals people pay their respect to Fudo at the Toilet. They clean the place with special care and make offerings.
This is O-Fudo Mairi 不動参り, often on the 15th day of the first lunar month.
The head of the family paints pairs of eyes, one for each member of the family, and hangs the paper in the toilet. This is an amulet to protect the family from eye diseases.
In other regions a 不動の絵馬 votive tablet with Fudo is hung in the toilet.
Here we have three keywords: 眼・年中行事・不動明王というキーワード.

- - - - - - - - - -
Iwate 岩手県 - 東和町 Towa
Once an old woman was cleaning the toilet, but happened to get some dirt on the Fudo venerated in the toilet 便所の不動尊. Then came the village sports event in autumn, but this time she could not participate because her whole body ached for two days.
Now she knew what to do. She cleaned the statue of Fudo with some wand and yes - her pain was gone.

- - - - - - - - - -
. Kyoto Tanukidani Fudo-In 狸谷山不動院 .

- - - - - - - - - -
Okayama 阿哲郡 Atetsu gun 哲西町 Tessei cho
真庭郡 Maniwa gun 落合町 Ochiai cho and Kuse cho 久世町
In the hamlet of Tessei they call the god of the toilet 不動様 "Fudo Sama".
When someone has to use the outhouse in the evening they call on the Deity of the Outhouse.

- - - - - - - - - -
Okinawa 沖縄県
Fudo is venerated at the toilet.

- reference : 不動信仰事典 -

- reference : yokai database 便所 不動 -


another deity of the toilet

. Ususama Myo-O ウスサマ明王 .
Fujoo no kamisama 不浄の神様 Deity of Impurities
toire no kamisama トイレの神さま God of the Toilet

and amulets for the deity of the toilet

- and -

akaname, aka name 垢嘗(あかなめ) "licking Aka dirt"
in the toilet and the bathroom


Akaname means filth licker in Japanese; aka is an homonym for red and filth, so the akaname is often described as being red in colour.
The akaname is the "personification of the fear of using a dark bathroom late at night". It is said to come out at night to lick up the grime and dirt that accumulates in unclean bathrooms.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


source : ameblo.jp/himitunohanazono1673

"What is it going to be, Sir? Big business or small business?"

kashi setchin 貸雪隠 toilet for rent in Edo

This was a good business, getting some money first and then sell the manure.

It all started on Benten Island in the lake of Ueno there was no public toilet, but during the first visit of the New Year, the island was crowded with visitors. This was the high time for the portable toilet for rent business.
The idea caught on and soon more such "business" was done in all parts of Edo.

In Edo there were various free public places for "small business".
And in many places were signboards "No pissing here" 小便無用.
Later local farmers put up public toilets to use for a small fee and thus collected the manure for their fields.

setchin ni kashi-mairasete tsuchi ni hiza

going to rent
a portable toilet
with knees in the dirt

When a person of higher rank used the toilet, the owner had to kneel down and wait till the business was done.

. Doing Business in Edo .

- source : sinyoken.sakura.ne.jp/caffee


Modern Toilets

There are two types of toilets in Japan: "Japanese style" and "Western style".

Public washrooms are often equipped with both toilet styles, although some older facilities might have only Japanese style toilets, while some newer facilities might have only Western style toilets. The toilets in most public homes and hotels are Western style.

Western style toilets in Japan often feature options such as a heated ring, a built-in shower and dryer for your behind and an automatic lid opener. Both Western and Japanese style toilets usually have two flush modes: "small" (小) and "large" (大), differing in the amount of water used.

Although the situation has improved considerably in recent decades, toilet paper is not always provided in public washrooms. Therefore, it is recommended to carry a small package of tissues. Similarly, because paper towels or dryers are not always provided, it is recommended to carry a handkerchief.

When using the washroom in a private home, minshuku or ryokan, you will often find toilet slippers for exclusive use inside the washroom. Leave your usual slippers outside the washroom, and do not forget to change back into them, afterwards, to avoid an often committed cultural faux pas.
source : www.japan-guide.com


cold winter night -
the way to the outhouse
soooo far

Gabi Greve, 2005

cold winter night -
the outhouse door
frozen shut
> :-)
> Carole


Issa and the outhouse

hatsu yuki ya donata ga hairu no setchin

first snowfall--
someone has entered
the field's outhouse

French translator Jean Cholley interprets no setchin ("field outhouse") as a person doing his business in an open field; En village de miséreux: Choix de poèmes de Kobayashi Issa (Paris: Gallimard, 1996) 167.
My Japanese advisor, Shinji Ogawa, concurs. I had assumed that no setchin is an outhouse in a field, but Shinji notes that an outhouse is called setchin, not no setchin. Shinji adds, "Though in an open field, in most cases people use a hidden place.

In this case, the footprints in the snow reveal the hideout. Issa humorously uses the word hairu ("enter") to regard the open field as an outhouse." In other haiku where Issa uses the expression no setchin, I've translated with the phrase, "pooping in the field," but here, since his joke depends on the word "outhouse," I've kept this word. The reader needs to keep in mind that this "outhouse" is imaginary.

Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)

nushi ari ya no setchin ni mo kado no matsu

even for the man
pooping in the field...
New Year's pine

My Japanese advisor, Shinji Ogawa, concurs. I had assumed that no setchin is an outhouse in a field, but Shinji notes that an outhouse is called setchin, not no setchin. The phrase, kado no matsu ("gate's pine") refers to a traditional New Year's decoration made of pine and bamboo. Shinji believes that Issa's use of it in this context is humorous. Instead of a decoration, Issa means an actual pine tree. Shinji writes, "I think that someone is doing his business behind a pine tree, so that the tree is at the moment occupied." The "outhouse" is imaginary.

Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)

mokuboji no setchin kara mo chidori kana

from Mokubo Temple's
outhouse too...
a plover

Haiku by Issa about the great open outhouse, no setchin 野雪隠

Temple Mokubo-Ji and Haiku by Issa


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

yuugao no shiroku yoru no kooka ni shisoku torite

On the way to the outhouse--
the white of the moonflower
by torchlight.

tr. Hass

moonflowers white
at night by the outhouse,
torch in hand

tr. Daivd Barnhill

moonflowers so white
at night, alongside the outhouse
in the light of a torch

Makoto Ueda says of this haiku:
"Alludes to a scene in the chapter 'Yuugao' (Moonflower) in 'Genji monogatari', where Prince Genji reads Lady Moonflower's poem by torchlight.
'Kooka 後架', literally 'hindhouse', is a Zen term for an outhouse, which was usually located behind the monastery. The poet ... was surprized to find moonflowers blooming on the roof."

Basho age 38, 延宝9年
The meter here is 5 3 3 4 3 3 .

a white evening face flower
taking to the privy at night
a candle

Tr. Reichhold

kooka toilet of a Zen temple


. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

yuugao no hana mede-tamae kookagami

enjoy the moonflowers
you gods
of the outhouse!

Tr. David Lanoue

Issa wrote this haiku with respect to the one of Matsuo Basho.


pensive students
frequent the toilet —

Onimbo Christine, Kenya


night jasmine
in the outhouse a trail
of wet slippers

Angelee Deodhar (Chandigarh, India)

published in Modern Haiku 35.2http://www.terebess.hu/english/india.html


outhouse in summer:
waiting for any movement
from the daddy-long-legs*

*Pholcus phalangioides: cellar spider, or daddy-long-legs.
"Its legs are about five or six times the length of its body."

Larry Bole


source : neko.koyama.mond.jp

後架先生 Master Kooka
by 近藤浩一路

Related words

CLICK for more photos

***** Slippers, Toilet Slippers (surippaa, Hausschuhe)
Japan and worldwide

More about cross-cultural experiences !


. Akakeshi 赤芥子 Red Poppies Dolls
A pair of Toilet God Dolls トイレの神様

. Pissing (shooben 小便) Shomben .

. Ganbari Nyūdō 加牟波理入道 Ganbari Nyudo
a Yokai monster "God of the toilet". .

- #toiletdeity #benjogami #kokagami #kawaya -


Gabi Greve said...

confused like a maggot
in a demolished toilet --
first day in High School

~ Sheillah Shikawa

Kenya Saijiki, Form One

Anonymous said...

spring day --
the outhouse sandals
are new

haru no hi ya setchin zoori no atarashiki


by Issa, 1808

Tr. David Lanoue / http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Anonymous said...

first snowfall--
bordering the outhouse
Sumida River

hatsu yuki ya setchin no kiwa mo sumida-gawa


by Issa, 1813

Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

setchin no uta mo ge-gaki no hitotsu kana

in the temple privy
this poem, too,
a true summer prayer

Tr. Chris Drake

MORE about the summer retreat

Gabi Greve - Edopedia said...

kashi setchin 貸雪隠 toilet for rent in Edo

News said...

Japan’s pit toilets: An in-depth look
by Amy Chavez

Like the aroma of fresh-baked bread or the sweet fragrance of a flower shop, the stench of a toilet can be just as memorable, albeit not in as nice a way.

Despite Japan’s reputation for high-tech toilets and Washlets that do everything except brush your teeth (thank God), a surprising number of households in Japan still have the old-style “pit toilets.” These toilets have a porcelain bowl, but no running water to flush in or out. You just squat over the hole and drop your goods into a cement pit waiting at the bottom. It’s basically an in-house outhouse.

Almost all the houses are this style on the islands in the Seto Inland Sea as well as many dwellings in Japan’s countryside. Our toilet reporter takes an in-depth look at how these pit toilet systems work. We bet you’re just dying to know!

The most surprising thing about these bathrooms, perhaps, is that they don’t smell foul. This is because each house has a fan connected to the toilet pit that works continuously to propel the stench outside rather than letting it creep back into the building.

in RocketNews

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Interior Design - The Japanese Home

. Japanese Architecture 日本建築 - Introduction .

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

. . . . . . . . . . Okayama

津山市 Tsuyama town, 瓜生原 Uryubara

In this village people believe the 便所神 Deity of the Toilet is blind, so not to bump into him they call out loud before entering the toilet.


Gabi Greve said...

hasu ike ni ushiro tsunmuku kooka kana

turning a cold shoulder
to the lotus pond...

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)
This haiku has the cut marker KANA at the end of line 3.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Toyama prefecture and the Deity of the Toilet

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

suzukaze no dai ichi ban wa kooka nari

the number one
best cool breeze...

Tr. David Lanoue

(The cut marker NARI is a the end of line 3.)

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Hookigami, Hōkigami 箒神 (ほうきがみ) Hokigami, Hahakigami Legends about the Broom Deity
and his encounter with the Benjogami


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Oni no setchin 鬼の雪隠 "Devil's lavatory" "Demon's toilet"
Ogre's outhouse

It had been said that the devil relieved nature here.
Nara 奈良県 - 明日香村 Takaichi-gun Asukamura Hirata

Two stone formations related to Oni, possibly related to ancient tombs:

Oni no manaita 鬼の俎 / 鬼のまな板 "Devil's cutting board"
"Devil's Chopping Board"
It had been said that a devil ate people after chopping them on this stone board.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend Kyoto 京都府
kawayagami 厠神 toilet god

Before entering the outhouse, you have to cough lightly to clear the throught and give the Toilet Deity a signal of your coming.

Once 比丘 a nun forget to do this, went inside and so dirt got on the demon mask. The Demon got angry and prevented the nun to come again, causing hermental disturbances.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend about
Ta no Kami, Tanokami 田の神 God of the Rice Fields
and inoko 亥の子 / イノコ / 亥子 the "young wild boar"

Niigata 新潟県 .....
南魚沼郡 Minami-Uonuma district 六日町 Muika machi

留守居の神 rusui no kami,恵比寿様 Ebisu sama,便所の神 benjo no kami
On the day of Inoko people prepare Inoko dango 亥の子ダンゴ round rice dumplings.

When most of the Kami left for Izumo, only Ebisu and the Benjo no Kami of the Toilet stayed back in the homes. They were the rusui no kami, Gods keeping back home. For them, the round rice dumplings were an offering. Also called
inokori dango 居残りダンゴ round rice dumplings for those left behind.

. kannazuki, kaminazuki 神無月 かんなづき "Gods are absent" month .
The tenth lunar month (now November), after the harvest when the Japanese gods had done their duty, they left their local shrines for a bit of a vacation and went to the Izumo Shrine.

Gabi Greve said...

Ido no Kami 井戸の神 / Idogami 井戸神 Deity of the Well
The God of the Toilet is the Elder Sister,
The God of the Well, Shinsui san シンズイさん is the younger sister.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Niigata

An old woman of more than 70 years did not like the "demon dusk" and never went to the outhouse during that time.
They sat during this time the deities of the outhouse come to meet.
One evening the husband of the woman went out for an urgent pee at that time anyway and made the gods very angry. He fell down and died soon after.