Some Japanese toilets are an attraction all in their own, with a range of technological features that are sure to alarm the first time user.
The high tech toilets, which are in most homes, hotels and shopping centres, feature an electronic panel that controls an array of handy features including seat warmers, hot air dryers and tiny robotic arms that squirt warm water at the guest. These technological marvels have become commonly known as washets, a name that is the trademark of Toto, the largest manufacture of these high tech bidets.
Japan is the world’s leader of toilet technology, some toilets can have up to 30 buttons, the majority only in Japanese but most have a few somewhat humorous graphics to give the novel user a bit of an idea what the button is for.
Usually only three buttons are required, The Oshiri, which means “Honorable Buttocks”; No Joke, it sprays the rear and the icon looks like a butt. Then there’s the Bidet, this is shown in pink for the woman. Then the Kanso, this is the dryer and it usually is a yellow wavy air icon. There can be various other buttons that operate things like water and blower pressure, temperature and angle. Some of the expensive models can automatically lower the seat or lid at a touch of a button, one of the reasons why it’s not a bright idea not to play with buttons when your mid stream. If you get into trouble there is often a red button to stop the water or blower, and they will generally require pressure on the seat before they start hosing you down.
The flush button is on top or the side just as it is in a western toilet. Some cisterns have a small wash bowl and tap on the top so when you flush you can rinse off your hands with the same water that is about to fill the cistern, a remarkably simple yet clever water saving feature indeed.
Public urinals are at the other extreme of the scale, they are usually in cubicles which people can see into, and this keeps people from loitering. You just go about your business quickly and get out.
You might even come across a traditional Japanese squat style toilet. These are becoming less common, but they can sometimes be found in public places. Here, the person backs onto the device and goes about their business. These don’t have any fancy devices, and it is recommended to carry your own paper as a lot are not stocked.
Another unique Japanese toilet invention is the “Otohime” or “Sound Princess”, because Japanese Woman found the noise they made going about their business was embarrassing, they often would constantly flush the toilet to hide any bodily noise. Because this was a waste of water, the sound princess was born to play a constant flushing sound and relieve the woman of embarrassment.