In the U.S., no one likes to talk about toilets. In Japan, in their modest culture, using the toilet is not a taboo subject. In fact, top of the line ‘thrones’ are a status symbol. It has been reported by one of the largest manufacturers, Toto, that Westerners panic at first contact with a Japanese toilet seat, due to the unfamiliar buttons, symbols and just plain fear that it could backfire (all over you).
Are you familiar with standard Toto toilets that went on sale in the U.S. in the recent past? They are the toilets whose forceful flush threatens to suck your private parts down the drain along with everything else, using minimal amounts of water. They are more expensive than our standard toilets but very impressive. Toto has been Japan’s largest toilet maker for over 100 years. The Washlet is Toto’s combination bidet/toilet. It is expensive but despite the cost they are everywhere in Japan. Washlets are the toilet seats of choice in most public restrooms in Japan. It is estimated that 70% of Japanese homes have a toilet seat with Washlet’s magical capabilities.
Here are some of the features of the Washlet –
- It has a remote control for it’s features
- Heated seat with adjustable temperatures
- A nanotech coating on the interior of the bowl to prevent anything from, um, sticking or staining the bowl
- Flush water that’s partially electrolyzed to add an antibacterial ‘bonus’ to every flush and a bleaching effect for any stains
- An embedded bidet within the toilet with water temperature controls and pressure
- Air deodorizer
The highest-end Washlets have proximity sensors that cause the seat to rise when you approach and lower when you depart. Are you sold yet? If so, start saving. Prices on Washlet Toilet start at $330 and go all the way up to $1750 or more for one with all of the features I’ve described here.
Toto’s “intelligent toilet”, now about 10 years old, is a system that includes scales built into your bathroom floor, sugar and blood pressure monitoring, access to the internet and your physician, and the ability to conduct a urine analysis. It also costs $6,100!
There is the Sound Princess toilet. Modest Japanese would continually flush the toilet to cover any sounds that might be embarrassing, thus wasting lots of water. Toto created the Sound Princess, a toilet that generates noise (a simple melody or sounds of a forest are among the choices) with a simple wave of your hand.
There is a U.S. company that sells bidet seats to accompany existing toilets called Brondell. It is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2003 by serial entrepreneur and MIT graduate David Samuels. Their comparable toilet seat to Toto’s is called the Swash, and its models sell for about 50% the cost of Toto’s seats. The seats get the same 4.5 stars rating as the Toto.
Other U.S. companies are venturing into this slow-to-take-hold field. Kohler is one such company. Their bidet seats do not get the rave reviews of Toto or Brondell.
If you are obsessed with toilets, travel to South Korea and go to the toilet museum/theme park there.