Departmental Bulletin Paper The tradition and transformation of "Japanese bathroom culture" : portrayed through the development of the sound princess

多賀, 昌江

Japanese women find the sound of going to the toilet ‘embarrassing’ and flushing the toilet to drown out this sound has taken place since the Edo period. Such a ‘Bathroom Sound Culture’ still exists today in the form of a device that plays the sound of flushing water. In this study we investigated the development of this device and in what situations women use it and how they feel when they do. The author contacted the company that developed the device by email and telephone, as well as undertaking a literature review to investigate changes made to the device after development. Finally, 100 Japanese women were surveyed. The device was found to be first manufactured in 1979 to conserve water. Nowadays, the device is smaller, attached to the toilet wall and a portable version is also available. Of the women surveyed, 99% had drowned out the sound when they went to the toilet and almost always used the device when available. In particular, they did so when in a public toilet with others present (88%); when in someone else's house and they may be heard (74%); when defecating and likely to pass wind (49%); and when at home and others may hear (46%). These results suggest that Japanese women are particularly sensitive to the presence of others when they use the toilet and that out of respect for others, as well as to avoid their own particular sense of shame, drowning out the sound when they use the toilet has become a normal event in Japanese culture.
女性が排尿時の音を「恥」と認識し,トイレの水を排泄と同時に流すことで消音する行為は,日本では江戸時代から行われてきた.このような「トイレ文化(“Bathroom Sound Culture”)」は,日本人女性の消音行為や排泄時の音を消音するためのトイレ用擬似音装置として現代まで伝承されている.研究方法は,トイレ用擬似音装置を開発した日本企業に開発経緯について電話および E-mail による聞き取りを行った.その後,開発された擬似音装置の変容について検討するために文献調査を行った.また,女性がトイレで消音行為を行う際の心理と消音環境を明らかにすることを目的として日本人女性100 人に質問調査を実施した.トイレ用擬似音装置は節水目的に1979年に開発され,現在では装置は小型化し,トイレ内蔵型や携帯型も販売されている.排泄時の消音行為は99%の対象者が経験し,擬音装置が設置されている場合には多用されていた.対象者が排泄時に消音する機会の多いトイレの環境は,1)公共のトイレで他者がいる場合(88%),2)他人の家のトイレで排泄の音が外に聞こえる可能性のある場合(74%),3)大便やおならなど大きな音のする可能性のある場合(49%),4)自宅のトイレで他者に排泄の音が聞こえる可能性がある場合(46%)となった.女性の消音行為は,他者の存在を強く意識し,他者への配慮と排泄の音に対する特別な羞恥心による普遍的な文化であることが示唆された.

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