On Saturday, December 3, 2016 I was in the men’s washroom at Ebina Station on the Odakyu Line, west of Shinjuku, around 9:00 a.m. When I entered the washroom I noticed a line of women waiting outside the adjacent women’s toilet. A short time later I was in the midst of my business when I heard a female voice, “Gomen! Gomen! Gomen!” (“Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!”) At first I thought it was one of the old women cleaners who regularly go in and out of the men’s toilet while the washroom is in use. They don’t close the room when they are cleaning. When I first arrived in Japan that was an odd and uncomfortable situation, but I got used to it having been forced to decide between comfort and modesty. Nature won. There are also old men cleaners who, I suppose, enter the women’s toilets. But these workers overwhelmingly are old women.
So that’s who I thought this feminine voice belonged to. But out of the corner of my eye I saw whoever it was scoot into the nearest open cubicle and slam the door. Apparently she was one of the women in the line in front of the ladies’ loo and she just couldn’t wait any longer. It was a bladder emergency, or worse. Okay, I thought, I don’t mind. If you gotta go then you gotta go. She was lucky that a stall was free.