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Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images

Better Sit Down for This: Japan Wants to Modernize Its Squat Toilets for the Tokyo Olympics

Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images

Culture shock abounds in every foreign country, but few experiences can be as off-putting to an international tourist as walking into a bathroom and encountering a toilet you don't entirely know how to use. Perhaps that's why, in advance of the influx of tourists headed to Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the country is looking to modernize its traditional squat toilets. According to Lonely Planet, the Japanese tourist ministry is trying to encourage municipalities to update their public restrooms with the Western-style toilets that visitors might be more accustomed to.

Though Japan is known for its elaborate, high-tech toilets with built-in bidets, seat heaters, and other perks, many of its public bathrooms have more simple accommodations. According to the country's tourist bureau, out of the 4000 public toilets near Japan's major tourist hot spots, around 42 percent are of the squatting variety rather than the kind with a raised bowl and seat. Now, squat toilets aren't just holes in the ground—they're usually made of the same materials most sitting toilets are and have flushing mechanisms. Except with a squat toilet, the flat ceramic pan is placed at ground level so you can crouch over it to do your business.

To make international visitors who are particular about their toilets more comfortable as they tour Japan, the Japan Tourism Agency has started offering subsidies for local governments that want to renovate their public restrooms. These grants are also available to private businesses and councils, according to Lonely Planet. The money can be used to either add more Western-style toilets or update existing models. (We can only hope some will take the opportunity to buy the kind that plays music.)

It's a bit of a shame that the Japanese government is so invested in getting rid of the country's squat toilets, because squatting is probably better for your health, at least when it comes to hemorrhoids. But at least it will be a welcome change for people with bad knees.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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The North Face
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Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

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Emojipedia
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Design
These Are the 157 New Emojis Coming to Your Phone
Emojipedia
Emojipedia

If words alone aren’t enough to express yourself while texting, there are now new emojis at your disposable. As Slate reports, the roster of flags, smiley faces, and random sports equipment just grew by 157 pictographs. After receiving the stamp of approval from the Unicode consortium, these emojis will soon be making an appearance on your keyboard.

The release of the redhead emoji has been long-anticipated, but this newest batch includes curly hairstyles as well for the many people without straight locks. Texters also now have the choice of gray hair or no hair at all when designing their emoji avatars.

Other human-related additions include superhero and super villain emojis in various skin tones and hairdos. There are 10 new animal emojis, including a badger, a peacock, a lobster, and a kangaroo, as well as six new food emojis, like a cupcake, a mango, and a lettuce leaf.

People who prefer classic smiley-face emojis will be happy to see the six new options in that category: cold face, hot face, partying face, pleading face, woozy face, and smiling face with four hearts. Along with these come plenty of new entries, like the dismembered leg, petri dish, abacus, safety pin, and lacrosse stick.

After announcing the initial designs on February 7, the emoji-standardizing team at Unicode will vote on the final versions in June before they’re made available to phone companies.

[h/t Slate]

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