“Gist for use”

The biggest culture shock I experienced when first arriving in the Land of the Rising Sun, was not the hoards of fish and seafood delicacies, nor the timed precision of the JR rail system. No, none of these compare to the challenge of figuring out how to flush a Japanese toilet.


While I was staying in a youth hostel in downtown Tokyo, I was lucky to have a private room and bathroom. Everything seemed normal except that the toilet had about 30 different buttons on a panel right next to it, and yet the flush handle was no where to be found. Instead, the toilet bowl lid would lift up to greet me, then a little water hose nozzle mechanically came out of hiding from within the toilet bowl. The only thing less than helpful was a lamenated instruction card titled “Gist for Use”. I didn’t know Japanese and therefore still didn’t know which buttons on the panel to push. To remedy this predicament, I started to press every single button on the little panel. Yet, nothing happened. I spent the next 2 days reenacting this scenario, hoping that one of these times I would actually push the right button and the toilet would magically flush everything out of my life. Finally I noticed a little metallic knocker that I thought was supposed to be used in emergencies if you fell down. To my surprise there was a round button underneath it and when I pushed it, the toilet flushed! Although I was quite proud of myself for finally figuring out how to flush a toilet after only spending 48 hours in Japan, I still had a few mishaps.



While at a work meeting, I needed to use the restroom and having figured out the flush button 3 days earlier, I felt very confident in my bathroom abilities. I did my thing, put my pants back on, then pressed what I thought was the flush button. Instead of a loud familiar rushing sound, a fountain of water began to spray out of the toilet bowl and onto the floor of my employer’s bathroom. Freaking out because…well…water was being projectiled out of the toilet, I did what any reasonable person would do; stick my hand in the toilet. I sat there for awhile letting the bidet water massage my palm while pressing more buttons on the wall. Finally the spraying subsided. Here I was, sitting halfway on a toilet, with my hand all wet, at my work, with water all over the floor. Turns out, the button was where any American flush handle would be. I apparently had been too distracted by the seat warmer and personalized bidet spray panel on the wall to notice the regular flusher behind me.

japan youth hostel toilet

Advice: never trust a Japanese toilet panel unless there is a sign that specifically points to a button that says “flush”. Apart from this one exception, ALWAYS look for a metallic flusher on the side of the toilet, or on the wall next to you. Do not get distracted by the fancy gadgetry.


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Late Night Snacks

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One of my favorite places eat after gallivanting around San Francisco is Bob’s Donut & Pastry shop. It is open 24 hours. For good reason. There is ALWAYS a line no matter what time of night I show up. But don’t be deterred by the line. It goes quickly. It also allows you time to stare at the freshly baked(?)/fried(?) donuts and pick what you want to stuff in your face.


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Don’t worry. They also sell milk.

Bob’s is also famous for their giant donuts that are the size of your head! I have yet to eat one or order one myself. But I have seen others order them in a drunken frenzy. They are the size of cakes. Hmmmm….my birthday is coming up. Perhaps I should indulge myself.

For my wheelie friends…access to the tables inside are a bit narrow (for anyone). But access to the ordering counter is very doable. I would suggest taking your goods to eat outside at the nearby bus stop….or just down the block.

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Axis Dance Company– Part II

You may have read my initial review of Axis Dance Company‘s 2014 Home opener a few weeks ago.

Well, here’s another excerpt from the dance performance “Divide” from Axis Dance Company based out of Oakland.




Look at those amazing wheelchair dance skillz by Joel! So beautiful!

This video doesn’t even fully convey the amazing overall performance. Hopefully Axis will post more. **Hint hint**

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My Achilles Heel

As my roommate can tell you, I have a weak spot for small children who speak foreign languages. I especially have a weakness for small children who speak French. What is it about a small child speaking such a pretentious language that makes me want to squeal?

I once told a coworker about my fascination towards foreign speaking children and how it would be sad to adopt a foreign child that would eventually lose its accent and adopt my American one. To which he responded, “So what you’re saying is, the longer they’re around you, the less cute they become.” Why yes, coworker. Any child who hangs out with me for too long is doomed!

Which now leads me to this photo montage of French children on ponies who speak French (both the children and the ponies).



These photos were taken at “Parc Georges Brassens” which was right across the street from the “Hotel Ibis” I stayed at in Paris.


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