The Porcelain Throne.
As you may or may not have heard before, one of Japan's many strange fascinations is their love of the toilet. Or the "Toi-re," if you will.
Before we rush to judgment over the Japanese obsession with toilets, you really can't argue against their importance. After "thank you," the first Japanese phrase we learned was "Where is the bathroom/toilet?" And just to help us memorize it, we sang the phrase "Toire wa doko desuka" to the tune of Follow the Yellow Brick Road from The Wizard of Oz.
We've come along way from squatting above a hole in the ground and Japan has certainly tried to perfect the final evolution of this seemingly simple household feature. The most ironic part about the advancement of Japanese super toilets must be the existence of so many outdated squatty-potty type toilets throughout the country. These are pretty awkward to use if you grew up with Western toilets, but you get used to it (see photo ----->).
When choosing between the two open units in our building, I do have to say that the difference in toilets put me over the edge to go with Unit #510, which had a super-toilet, rather than Unit #610, which had a simple porcelain seat. How about a brief video to explore the fun? The following is a video tour of our brand new toilet in our apartment:
Several washing features
Eco flush (2 choices)
Water-saving hand washing thingy
Neon green bowl light
Now that you've seen ours, I hope you share my sense of admiration for the people at TOTO and Panasonic Toilets. These groups of pioneering men and women have made the world a warmer, cleaner, and more comfortable place for Japanese (and gaijin) bottoms.
Some fun links and extra info for the super-toilet curious out there:
A hilariously true story about how toilet marketing in Japan is changing: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090510x5.html
Apparently the phenomenon is catching on the U.S. (fun): http://www.bidet.com/deluxe.htm
Here's a guy from the U.K. admiring one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsq8JbxOREg
Some features of these super toilets as described on Wikipedia:
Advanced technology is being integrated into toilets with more functions, especially in Japan (see Toilets in Japan). The biggest maker of these toilets is TOTO. Such toilets can cost anywhere from US$200 to $5,000. The features are operated by control pads (sometimes with bilingual labels), and even hand-held remote control devices. Some of these features are
- Automatic-flushing mechanisms, operated by a photocell or other sensor. Typically these flush a toilet when the user stands up, or flush a urinal when the user steps away.
- Water jets, or "bottom washers" like a bidet, as an alternative to toilet paper
- The "Portable Washlet", Toto's portable hand-held bottom washer
- Blow dryers, to dry the body after use of water jets
- Artificial flush sounds, to mask noises such as body functions
- Urine and stool analysis, for medical monitoring. Matsushita's "Smart Toilet" checks blood pressure, temperature, and blood sugar.
- Digital clock, to monitor time spent at the toilet
- Automatic lid operation, to open and close the lid
- Heated seats (some of which may overheat)
- Deodorizing fans
- Automated paper toilet-seat-cover replacers, which automatically replace a paper toilet-seat cover with the push of a button.
- Electric Toilet Brushes