So imagine you’re in Tokyo, you just bought a new dress, and you’re dying to try it on. Or you foolishly decided to wear tights under your skirt during the summer and are looking for a discrete place to shed the extra layer. Most people turn to the bathroom. That’s a pretty normal reaction.
The problem with the bathroom is, well, it’s a bathroom. Ignoring the fact there isn’t a lot of floor space (especially if the toilets look like this, where you are basically just peeing into the floor), the scarce floor space you CAN find is covered with pee, possibly blood, and all sorts of nasty things you don’t to touch.
But of course, this is Japan. Any problem you can possible think of, they’ve already thought of, researched, and designed a product to solve it. I present the bathroom changing stool:
When you first enter the stall, it looks kind of like a vertical scale. Actually, I thought it was a scale (and thought “how nice, they have a scale in the private stall so no one can see your weight”); when I realized it was a changing board, I was even more impressed.
The concept is simple. Girls like to change clothes. Something might have ripped, maybe you want to slip on a new dress you bought, or peel off a couple layers. However, when you change, you have to remove your shoes (have you even tried to take off jeans while wearing shoes? It’s hard). And once you take your shoes off, you have to stick your socks or bare feet on the dirty, often wet or stained floor. Take a look at the picture above. This was a bathroom out in Sendai, the floor was nasty.
The changing board solves this problem:
Sometimes the “changing boards チェンジングボード ” comes with instructions, sometimes it doesn’t. In any case, all you need to know is that you pull the board down, take off your shoes, step on the board, change your clothes, put your shoes back on, and fold the board back. The changing board takes up almost no room and is a real “life saver.”
In my 8 months in Tokyo, I’ve seen these boards close to 20 times.
Sometimes they are at rest-stops, sometimes out in the middle of the Sendai countryside near a temple, in a high-rise fashion mall in Shibuya, or in a train station. The signs are all different, but are pretty self explanatory:
I can’t tell if these are a recent invention (and that’s why there aren’t a lot of them), or they just haven’t “taken off” for whatever reason. I personally love them. I’ve only used them once; most of the time when I have to change, a changing board is nowhere to be found. More than anything, I like the idea of them.
And I love that Japan tries to solve my problems before I think of them.
(PS, when I showed these pictures to my fiance he was surprised. He hasn’t seen any changing boards in men’s restrooms – and neither have I, for obvious reasons. Do these boards also exist in men’s restrooms? Or is it just something for women?)
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