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High-Tech Toilets

So you got what the Japanese style toilets are, and used to be, like, eh? What makes you confused about toilets once in Japan may not be limited to squat ones, though. Even Western style toilets could give you pause for thought -- high-tech toilets.

It was in 1980's that TOTO, a Japanese sanitary ware company, announced its new product named "Washlet" with the impressive catchphrase "Even your bottom wants to be washed." To be honest, I didn't imagine them to be as popular as they are now. I don't know what percentage of Japanese homes equip them, but you can easily find them in, say, urban hotels. Beside the toilet seat is a control panel with many buttons on it, and because they are usually written in Japanese, you could enjoy the thrill of pushing the buttons at random. Be careful not to leave the seat once you push a button, or ....

A lot of restrooms in department stores or restaurants provide both Japanese and Western style toilets. You can choose between them. I would choose a Japanese one. I'm perfectly used to Japanese styles, of course, and I don't want to sit, if possible, on the same toilet seat that some strange guy has just used. Neither, it seems, do many people. Some toilets equip automatically-rotating seat covers. I was amazed (and amused) to see it first, but, yeah, I like them.

My wife told me that some toilets in public washrooms have censors that will make flushing or river-like sounds to cover up the noise while you are doing your business. Aha! I don't want to see them at men's rooms, though.

Generally, Japanese are known to be cleanliness conscious. I think it's true, provided it's specifically for oneself, and that makes the high-tech toilets popular here. But you may be disappointed with the mess in public washrooms.


Last year my wife took a video camera into the women's bathroom at Takashimaya (big department store) in Shinjuku to videotape the toilet, and the elaborate instructions. Sure enough, she reported on the "tinkling" button that made some noise to cover up the real tinkling. You can see a video capture here:

For all the high-tech-ness, I must say that one thing that bothers the hell out of me is the lack of paper towels for drying one's hands. If there's one of those super-charged blowers (those in and of themselves are a thing of high-tech beauty), fine, but many toilets in office buildings and what not don't have either. For such a "cleanliness conscious" society, i find this extremely kitanai. aah, don't get me started on other aspects of cleanliness that I'll never understand and seem equally kitanai, like not showering in the morning before going to work....

Though many restrooms equip blowers, I don't think they are useful or effective. After all, you are expected to use your own hankie. (They are not for blowing your nose in this country, you know.) So Kurt, I hope you will blog on the difference of cleanliness-conscious aspects between the two cultures. ;)

yes, Kiyo, I should...but I need to do it when I'm in a good mood :)

alright Kiyo, I accepted your challenge (i'm being facetious) and blogged about Japanese cleanliness, and by extension, about American values of cleanliness, sort of.

In Canada, I've sometimes seen "toilet seat covers" that are basically a sheet of thin hard paper - that is cut to the size of the toilet seat with the inside partially cut out so it automatically flushes for you - that comes out of a dispenser in the stall.

My feelings about these are rather mixed - on one hand it is much more sanitary (but most restrooms here are actually quite clean, I seldom see unflushed toilets or litter in the stalls outside of schools) but on the other hand, the sheets of paper are rough, are not comfortble to sit on. The paper also tends to move on you....

I'm not sure if using a Japanese style toilet would be any more comfortble though - for me anyways :p

Yashiko, unlike yours, public restrooms here, especially ones at train/subway stations, are sometimes dirty because of bad manners...

I just got back from Tokyo, and was actually looking for a picture of one of those squat-toilets. Out of everything I found in Japan, I loved it all... except for those awful toilets. Heh. :)