One of the amazing discoveries in our travels to Japan were Japanese toilets. Though there were squat toilets (which took a great deal of physical coordination to use), the majority we found were known as western style- 洋式 – and featured a myriad of buttons for a variety of functions. Not knowing how to read Japanese found us pleasantly surprised by these functions.
According to Wikipedia, Japan has the most advanced toilets in the developed world. This was obvious. First of all, the seats are warmed and the user can control the temperature from between 30 to 40 degrees centigrade. Apparently Japanese women are embarrassed by the sound of urinating so continually flushed the toilet to cover the sounds they were making. There was a big campaign to stop their flushing because it used a lot of water totally working against the green efficiency of these toilets. The campaign didn’t work so now there is a button which allows the user to play a musical sequence of flushing. On one model I used, there were a variety of musical sounds you could choose including a waterfall with birds as well as a rainstorm option.
Of course, these toilets come equipped with a variety of bidet choices too. I became aware of many of these options when I was searching for which button controlled the flush.
Though there is modesty about the sounds people make in public washrooms, the sign below which identified the washrooms at the local gas station near our son’s apartment, did not seem so shy.
Leave it to the Japanese to once again ceremonialize and ritualize even the most basic bodily functions.
…and two additional photos from JB—