Specifically, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education wants you to collect a stool sample.
It’s that time of year for my school that we are doing our annual health exams. I will get to ‘look forward’ to the inevitable poking and prodding and being told that I am overweight (grossly obese by Japanese standards). These things I was expecting, having read reviews by previous JET Programme participants. What I was un prepared for was the bonus activity of having to handle my excrement.
I was issued a small, blue ziplock pouch with some items in it. The teacher who gave it to me, looked at it, looked at me, then back at it; he proclaimed with a vexed expression that he would have to write me a note with the instructions. To save time I volunteered to have my wife give me instructions. He seemed pleased with that option.
When I presented the pouch to my wife we opened it and she promptly determined it was to collect a stool sample. It contained a folded instruction sheet (in Japanese), to sample collection vials and two folded sheets of paper. The sheets of paper are to prevent your excrement from sliding down the pipe where the toilet flushes out of (pardon for my lack of plumbing terminology). Each of the vials has a small ridged plastic probe fixed to the cap. You are supposed to use the probe to penetrate the excrement to the degree that the ridges retain some of your waste. You then close the vial which contains a blue preservative liquid.
Woe to me, the barrier sheet I placed in the toilet was not strong enough to contain my sample and it tore thru. In a distressed state I called to my wife. She suggested I use disposable chopsticks to grab my sample and pierce it with the probe. After much frustration I proceeded to fish out my sample enough that I could collect material on the probe… while fighting back my intense desire to vomit.
I firmly closed the caps; triple bagged the chopsticks in a garbage bag and wiped down all surfaces with Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. The collection was successful and I was able to follow my wife’s recommendation without contaminating myself, but the psychological damage was done.
I had just used chopsticks to grab my poo so I could poke it with a plastic stick.
I think I’ll be using a fork for a while.