Japan House London’s restaurant has an exquisite menu – and, er, facilities
William Sitwell at Japan House London
LIKE A FIRST DATE, passing your driving test, or the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, you never forget your first Japanese lavatory.
Mine was at a hotel in Tokyo. I had already been fully briefed on the etiquette of business-card exchanges, but no one had mentioned the loos. For the former, as a meeting commences, you queue up in order of seniority, accept a proffered card with two hands and similarly offer yours, say ‘nice to meet you’, give a little bow and, as you take a seat, place the cards you have been given carefully on the table in front of you. A sensible thing is to map the cards according to where your counterparts are sitting. That way, you can see what their names are, even if you can’t read or say them.
I pondered this as I checked in to my hotel room. Two hands, nice to meet you, small bow. I was admiring my own pack of business cards, printed specially for the trip – on which my name had been spelt phonetically in Japanese (William Shitowell, I later discovered) – while settling in the bathroom, slumped upon the facility (this is, believe it or not, a restaurant review, so I’ll keep things delicate). All of a sudden, I felt a cold little spurt from below. I shrieked. The cards went flying. There was a whirring sound and the spurt began to oscillate. Then it stopped and a little heater kicked in. I calmed. Ooh, this is nice, I thought.
As I say, not an experience you forget in a hurry. Indeed, I couldn’t wait each day to be reunited with my new friend.