When foreigners visit Japan, they naturally focus on areas of the country that stand out to them as unique, like maid cafes in Akihabara, pachinko parlors, love hotels and of course Japan’s high-tech toilets. Most toilets you’re likely to encounter in residential homes or hotels here are “washlets,” those awesome toilets that wash and dry your butt for you and also have a “bidet” feature, though being male I’m sure I don’t know what that is. They were invented in 1980 by the TOTO Corporation — no relation to Dorothy’s little dog, the name is actually short for 東洋陶器 Toyo Toki, meaning Eastern Ceramics — and were originally developed for use in hospitals before the company decided to try selling them commercially. Japanese toilets increase your comfort by keeping the seat heated to the perfect temperature for you (this is called a “warmlet”) then by washing your backside when you’re done doing your business. They’re popular with Japanese women, who always seem to suffer from chronic constipation, since the stream of water can be a big help. The toilets have other features, too, like cool LED lights for trips to the bathroom at night, hydraulically operated seats that open for you, and white noise generators to mask any sounds you might make while doing your business, which Japanese females hate, dainty feminine things that they are. TOTO and its competitor INAX are trying to build a market for high-tech Japanese toilets outside Asia, but so far it’s been slow going, perhaps due to taboos regarding toilets in the West. I imagine most homes in Europe and the U.S. don’t have conveniently-located electric sockets right by the toilet, either.
I am a big fan of Japanese “washlets.”