I heard the most accurate statement yesterday from our relocation assistant: “Japan has a lot of buttons.”
To illustrate this point, let me take you on a brief tour of our apartment’s features:
Let’s start with the bathroom (not to be confused with the toilet room or the sink room, but the room that contains the bath tub). Looks harmless enough, right? There’s a tub, a faucet, a window, and… a television!
How many times have you been in the bathtub wishing that you could be watching a movie? Thankfully, I’ll never have to know that kind of suffering anymore.
Next to the tv is a panel that controls the bathtub. From that panel (or using the remote control), I can select my desired water temperature and fill level and voila, the tub will fill. By remote control. But what if I am in the tub and I’m really enjoying the movie and it starts to get cold? Well, there is a solution for that as well. I merely push the “reheat” button, which warms the tub and of course the water as well.
But let’s not let the tub get all of the attention. The astute observer will notice that the glass door leading into the bathroom is sealed. This is because the entire room has its own high-tech function, complete with its own control panel. Let’s take a look.
So from this control panel, I can make the entire room yield to my every command. I can turn it into a sauna, a dryer, a refrigerated room, or run a variable ventilation system. There may even be a tumble dry setting. Fortunately the sauna setting beeps a few times before the hot mist comes spraying out of the ceiling, which saved me from a good soaking when I was testing all of the buttons. Apparently this room is often used for drying laundry, so you would presumably hang all of your clothes in there and set it to dry for a prescribed amount of time. Pretty cool. I’m not sure if the hot mist setting is for people or laundry, or maybe both? Oh well, nobody has to know if I’m sitting in there on the laundry settings.
The water closet (toilet room) has its own command module for the toilet. I have no idea what the buttons do (we had most of the other panels labeled by our wonderful relocation assistant, but Joe wanted to figure out the toilet controls on his own… sigh). Some of the icons are fairly obvious, but many of the buttons, including the 10 more below the flip-down cover, are a mystery to me. Somehow I pressed something earlier today that now makes it auto-flush whenever you stand up, which is pretty awesome. Just watch that water pressure control dial, the higher settings are not for the faint-hearted.
That pretty much finishes the bathroom and water closet panels, but we are not done yet. Let’s try the living area.
This rather intimidating duo greets you upon entering the living room. The one on the left is our doorbell (which has a most amusing sing-song single when pressed, nothing like a boring chime). When the doorbell is pressed, I get a video feed of whoever wishes to see me… then I can decide whether or not I want to talk to them. I think there are some emergency buttons on this panel also – our relocation person just said “don’t touch these”. Will try to remember that. On the right, we have the control center for the heated floor. Temperature control, “speedy heat”, different zones, a timer… yikes. But the heated floor is certainly nice.
Wait, what’s this? It’s another bathtub control box – in the kitchen!!! So in case I’m busy cooking and all I can think about is a relaxing bath and movie, I can just hit the button and start filling the tub with the desired water temperature. From the kitchen. Unbelievable. Once again, a huge thank you to Yukari who helped label all of these buttons for us – she was pretty exhausted by the time she was done, and we still don’t have any appliances yet – she gets to come back to help us with the fridge, washing machine, etc.
Almost done, but I have saved the best for last. My favorite thing in the whole apartment is the secret table in the tatami room, adjacent to the living room. Here is what the room normally looks like:
It’s a nice room with straw mat flooring, meant for lounging, drinking tea, etc. But wait – there is a switch on the wall!! Watch what happens when you press the switch:
It’s a secret table!! I love how it slowly rises up from the floor like something from Star Trek. It really reminds me of something from a movie villain’s lair. But it’s not enough to just have a secret table that magically rises up from the floor, oh no. There’s a remote control under there, which allows you to turn on two heaters below the table or, as I like to think of it, a foot grill:
Yep. You’re sitting around the table, drinking your tea, thinking about how terribly cold your feet are feeling. Suffer no more, just turn on the foot grill. Genius.
So… welcome to our apartment! I only hope that I don’t push the wrong button and cause something to break, freeze, or give me a blue screen of death. Maybe in the next post I will introduce you to our car tower, the magical car-stacking parking device. I could go out there and play with it for hours, but I’m a little afraid of accidentally crushing someone’s car. Maybe I should get the instructions translated into English.
I leave you now with our nighttime view, which is certainly quite different from our rural home back in Washington but is quite pretty in its own way…