In Japan, there are ‘in case of emergency’ measures in place just about everywhere. In the public toilets there’s a special button on the wall that is often confused with the flush button (also sometimes on the wall) by foreigners who can’t read Japanese. In my home, there are these funny circles that look like smoke detectors on the wall, with a little string hanging down: pull in case of emergency.
I really didn’t think much of them or think they even worked until I was at the college, teaching, earlier this week.
I walked into the bathroom and it sounded like an alarm was going off. But it wasn’t very loud. No one in the bathroom looked alarmed, and no one seemed to think much of it. I went into a stall to do my business, and just after I sat down, there was a knock at the door and a man asked ‘are you ok’? in Japanese. I responded that I was, and he went on to knock on all of the other closed stall doors, asking the same question.
So it seems that someone pulled the alarm (in this case, pressed the clearly labeled button), and a security guard actually came.
I have never once seen a security office in this building, and I have no idea if it has one. But there was a security guard checking up on the room that the alarm came from.
So, if you happen to be in Japan and see a brightly-colored button in the toilet, don’t push it. It’s not the flusher. 🙂