In December 2005, the Asahi Shimbun reported: Junichi Hirata, vice president of the Japan Toilet Association, is fascinated by the notion of adapting cultural anthropology to toilet studies. He came up with his own term, "toilet demarcation," and a world map marked with cultural boundaries based on toilet styles. He says the area covering Asia, the Middle East and Africa can be labeled as belonging to the "squatters." The "sitters," for their part, are distributed in Western Europe, the entire American land mass and Australia--all areas hosting immigrants from Western Europe. However, Hirata warns, "There are many enclaves. So we can never be clear about these boundaries."

Hirata estimates that the area in which squatting-style toilets are used roughly matches up with the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922) at the height of its power, covering the Middle East, parts of North Africa and much of southeastern Europe. The demarcation line runs south down the Aegean Sea and travels west through the Mediterranean, drawing a line incidentally congruous with that dividing the Islamic and Christian cultures that continue to vie for dominance.

The origins of the two styles are unclear. One hypothesis is that humans were all originally "squatters." Then some branched out to become "sitters," perhaps to become less vulnerable to a sneak attack. The hypothesis, however, remains just that.

And when it comes to cleaning, there are, again, two main schools: washing and wiping. Washing, naturally, relies on water. But when it comes to wiping, people have come up with a variety of ingenious materials. Only about 30 percent of the world's population uses toilet paper, according to Hideo Nishioka, professor emeritus at Keio University. Nishioka specializes in geography, but is well-versed in all sorts of matters related to the toilet. Other materials of choice include leaves, bark, wood chips, seaweed, sand, gravel and more. In other words, people have been making use of whatever natural resources have been handy in their local environment.

The world map as re-envisioned through toilet culture can thus be demarcated according to four basic elements: squat, sit, wipe and wash. As for how the four elements are combined, things take on a decidedly anthropological bent, swayed by local climes and customs. Even now, as the world moves toward globalization, tradition usually has the last say in what takes place in the bathroom--or its equivalent.

Japan's toilet evolution has been rapid, moving from "squat and wipe" to "sit and wash" over a very short period. China is now undergoing a swift and major makeover of its own. Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo fast approaching it was intent on upgrading toilet bowls to meet international standards. A leading Japanese toilet manufacturer began promoting its high-tech wash-style toilet with ads featuring popular Hong Kong actress Kelly Chen, and why not? Who could resist her sweetly imploring, "Isn't it time you started washing.”

Sex In Asia

The curator of sex museum in Seoul told the Los Angeles Times, “A difference between the Eastern and Western views of sexuality is that Asia, especially Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, generally view sexuality as a natural element of human expression and religion, yin-and-yang forces and life as a whole, Often in the West, on the other hand, its viewed in a more limited way largely focused on the act itself.”

”Koro “is a mental disorder found in Malaysia (with similar disorder found elsewhere in East Asia) characterized by intense anxiety that sexual organs will recede into the body and cause death. There are occasional epidemics of this disorder.

In a review of Richard Bernstein’s book “The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters “, Toni Bentley wrote in the New York Times, “India was playing Twister — the Kama Sutra version — more than a thousand years before Columbus got a boat and came to find us...From second-century Chinese sex manuals that describe the beautiful bodies — “supple like grass” — of dancing girls, who “put forth all their charms so that one forgets life and death”; to Marco Polo’s reports on imperial concubines in the 14th century; to the 16th century, when “Portuguese seamen cohabited with local women in Goa, Malacca, Sumatra and Japan”; to Bangkok today, where the glories of empire have been reduced to the bars and bordellos of Patpong Road” the history of sex in Asia is long and varied. [Source: Toni Bentley, New York Times, June 19, 2009]

”After telling us the sordid and predictable tale of a foreign English teacher in present-day China boasting on his blog of his own mini-harem of Chinese conquests, Bernstein quickly takes us back to the good old days of imperialism and colonialism, when the British, French and Dutch moved in on the East — like a bad boyfriend in every way — and then to the mid-20th century, when unerring American know-how took its profligate and tacky turn in Vietnam, producing “a wartime erotic circus of historic proportions,” and the V.D. to match. The story was certainly much prettier when “Madama Butterfly,” “The Mikado,” “The Arabian Nights,” Japanese woodcuts, and Delacroix and Ingres provided the prism through which to view the East as a rhapsody of delicacy and ecstasy.

The first Viscount Wolseley, a field marshal in the British Army, brashly admitted that he “consorted with an “Eastern princess” — who provided “all the purposes of a wife without any of the bother,” and that he had no plans to marry — “some bitch” in Europe, unless she were an heiress.” A commander in the Indian Army in 1803, one David Ochterlony, landed himself 13 spouses and “liked to parade around Delhi with his wives following behind, each on her own elephant.” Not exactly the kind of afternoon outing he could take through Beacon Hill back in Boston, where he was born.

Book: “The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters “ by Richard Bernstein (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009]

Breasts, Penises and Condoms in Asia

Breast shape and size, nipple color and shape, the form of a woman's labia and buttocks and the angle of man's erection also varies somewhat between races. by Richard Bernstein, author of Book: “The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters “ describes the women of Asia as “more plumlike than melonlike of breast, spare rather than full of buttocks and hips.”

Asian women generally have smaller breasts than Western women. Writer Paul Theroux once wrote that the brassier is "probably the most superfluous garment in China." Even so Wonder Bra developed a special product line for slim Asian women. An accountant in Hong Kong told Newsweek, "There's a strong desire to be sexy. People want to marry a good husband, and a push-up bra is part of the package to achieve that goal."

In Asia condoms used to be called "French letters." In 1827, there were reports of condoms made of tortoiseshell and leather being used in Asia. Research by an Australian condom manufacturer has indicated that Asian penises are smaller that other races. Some Asian men have an operation in which metal balls are placed inside their penises to increase the pleasure of their partners.

The Center of Penile Surgery of Queensland performs an operation that can lengthen a penis by 1.2 to 2.8 inches by releasing the ligament that runs inside the penis and back into the pelvic area of the body. Many of the centers customers were from Hong Kong.

Another Australian cosmetic surgery firm performs a penis lengthening procedure which adds extra inches by reconstructed the pelvic region that conceals up to a third of the male genitalia. The penis is fully operation about six weeks after the surgery. This form offers penis enlargement travel packages, geared towards Asian men, in which customers pay $15,000 for the lengthening operation as well as seven days of recovery at a luxury hotel.

Male and Female Relationships

Assumptions long regarded as truisms for all cultures in the field of gender studies: 1) women tend to monogamous while men inherently are promiscuous so they can “spread their seed” widely; 2) women seek successful, often older, men who have more material wealth and offer more security than younger men; and 3) men seek young, pretty, baby-faced women because they are presumably more fertile than older women.

There are many theories and studies that debunk these assumptions: 1) some suggest that it is advantageous for a female to seek many Prince Charmings rather than wait for one and to have sex with many males so that many males have an interest in her offspring; 2) Others say it is more advantageous for a male to be monogamous because it makes sense for him to be around since his mate is only fertile a few days a month, and he wants ti be the one that impregnates here, plus he wants to protect his offspring after they are born.

Some believe that marriage was invented by males as a form of “male guarding.” Rosaling Barnett of Brandies University wrote in the New York Times: “Having regular sex with one woman was a lot easier than roaming from female to female, and possibly more effective in terms of reproductive success. As for women seeking older men, studies showed in societies where there is is a high degree of gender equality women seek out men who demonstrate qualities that would make them good fathers.

Contradicting the notion that men prefer young, pretty women are studies that show these days men increasingly want women who are educated and that marriages in which women are breadwinners are just as stable and happy as this in which the man is the breadwinner. Other research have shown that men prefer good-looking women but they don’t necessarily have to be young. One study found that men show picturers of a plain women in her 20s and an attractive women in her 30s and 40s preferred the latter.

As for what couples want in a marriage, a worldwide study found that both men and women regard “kind and understanding” as the most desired trait in their partner. Another showed that people often sought a partner like themselves. Cornell biologist Stephen Emlem told the Los Angeles Times: “attractive people tend to value attractiveness, wealthy people value mates with money and ambitious types and family-oriented souls tend to gravitate to those like themselves.

Asian couples don't usually express affection towards each other in public.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated November 2012

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