I reckon that I might have found an anthropological explanation for an unpleasant aspect of Japanese “culture": the predilection of middle aged and old men for urinating in public. Not only in secluded places and/or after dark, either; I once passed a man in broad daylight in a busy part of downtown Osaka, who was urinating against a tree. This tree was located between the pavement and the carriageway, so his (presumably shrivelled, given that it was January) member was in full view of both passing cars and the numerous pedestrians.

Drunken businessmen habitually relieve themselves of their after work drinks against other people’s houses and cars as they stagger back home. It’s so common as to be completely unremarkable. However, if I am riding my bicycle, I like to cycle threateningly towards them in an attempt to make them lose their concentration, cutting away as late as possible and wondering if I really caused them some embarrassment. Evil, aren’t I?

My hypothesis is that they are conditioned to become accustomed to public urination at school. I had this (literal) flash of inspiration as I walked along the corridor after class and realised that there are no doors on any of the toilets (I mean the room, not the cubicles, which do have doors), nor is there any attempt to shield the urinals from the view of passers by. The staff toilets are fortunately more civilised, but if you are a Japanese boy and wish to empty your bladder at school, you have to do it in front of everybody, so you had better get used to it.

It’s still just a hypothesis, though.