Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Toilets of Asia: Narita Airport and Japanese Techno-Toilets

Toilet type: Western seated, techno-seat
Gender: Men's
Location: Narita Airport terminal
Noted for: "equipment to cleansing the buttocks with warm water."

No, really:

You have to speak four languages just to go to the bathroom.
The Japanese have an obsession with toilet technology. So much so that there is a TEDx presentation inspired by them (best quotes- "It's as if the toilet is saying 'Welcome!'" "And this kind of highly skilled robot [toilet] also has a warm heart." "You become worried that you can't live without this toilet.")

Did you know that a self-heating toilet seat can be programmed to heat within 6 seconds because yes, the Japanese have gathered marketing data to prove that most people are seated within 6 seconds of arriving in the stall? You better bet I'm timing myself next time.

Also, looking for a bidet while out on the town? There's an app for that!
Most articles about techno-toilets reference the Japanese interest in cleanliness as a reason for the toilets. As the TEDx talk states, the goal is to create a restroom experience in which you actually don't have to touch anything, from automated toilet lids to cleaning to flushing to the sinks. I also read elsewhere, and I can't find it now, that the Japanese invest in toilets because in many small homes, the toilet is the only place where you can get some "alone time." People therefore go a little overboard spoiling themselves. I've fallen dearly in love with my toilet's seat heater function, although mine is not of the six-second variety and must be left on in the winter. (Actually, the seat heater is more important here than in the US as well because of the tendency not to use central heating. Your toilet seat therefore reaches temperatures at which you fear A Christmas Story-style fusion of your hapless buttock flesh).

So those are good aspects of techno-toilets. On the other hand, now that the idea is spreading, things like this Korean commercial happen:

And I'm not sure I can forgive Japan for that.

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