One of the publishing companies I work for is producing prototypes of English versions of their pre-school materials for sale in the States. The materials are of excellent quality, but we keep having problems. One is the angle on potty training. There’s an animation of a character going potty. He produces a poop, talks to it, then waves bye-bye and flushes it away. In a picture book, there’s a fairly graphic illustration of how one gets plugged up if one does not go potty. I keep telling them you can’t show poop in stuff for kids in the States. I know it’s prudish and silly, but a taboo is a taboo.
Japanese are much more open and realistic about body functions than Americans. For example, you don’t have to excuse yourself when you sneeze. If you blow snot all over the table, that’s a different story, but sneezing is a normal thing that everyone does and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
This is changing, though. Although most people, especially men, still slurp their noodles (see yesterday), people are starting to excuse themselves more. One thing that has changed dramatically is men peeing on the streets. During my first couple of years here, I saw more guys’ thingies than I’d ever seen before, but that seems to be mostly gone. Some traditions deserve abandonment.