I discovered something unusual last night. On TV, a young Japanese woman was singing and strumming the guitar. That`s normal enough. But, the listening audience were in floods of tears.
In the corner of the screen, I could see the songtitle, Toire no Kamisama (The Spirit in the Toilet). Two Japanese housemates watching with me quickly explained.
The singer was Kana Uemura. She was singing about her gratitude to her now dead gran.
Kana grew up close to her gran. They often played together.
One day, gran told Kana there was a spirit in the toilet. If Kana made the toilet pika pika clean everyday, the toilet spirit would help her grow into a beppin (beautiful woman).
Kana cleans the toilet, as she`s been told to, and becomes a beppin. Regretfully though, she misses the chance to thank gran properly before she dies.
The song is hugely popular in Japan right now. There are over 10,000,000 hits for it on youtube.
A TV drama of the story was well-watched in January, and the tragedy of the recent earthquake rushed it back into the schedules last week.
The concept of the song may seem strange, but listening to it again later that evening, I was curiously moved.
Much to my housemates` disappointment, the song hasn`t made me start cleaning the toilet everyday, but at least I have learnt why Japanese women might.