Yes. In Japan, toilets definitely qualify as an experience. I am a fan of public squat toilets in Asia, but in Japan it is always interesting to ‘experience’ toilets at the other end of the technology spectrum.
And modern Japanese restrooms are without a doubt the most high-tech in the world, mostly thanks to the leading manufacturer of ‘washlets’ Toto, which has sold over 30 million of their advanced toilettes since starting production in 1980.
Traditional toilet rooms are treated as a completely separate part of the house in Japan as they are considered ‘unclean’. They even have ‘toilet slippers’ which are placed just inside the restroom by the door. In the same way it is customary to leave your outdoor shoes outside in Japan, toilet slippers are kept separate from the rest of the house and are not to be worn inside.
The other thing I noticed during this visit were toilets in department stores, hotels and restaurants that had an extra panel on the wall in the toilet cubicle. The first time I noticed this, I immediately assumed that it was some kind of button to flush the toilet. However, when pressed, the cubicle was filled with a loud flushing water sound… but no actual water. Confused, I left in a hurry and even after washing my hands I could still hear the flushing water sound coming from my cubicle. Later, I found out that this device is installed mostly in ladies toilets. Apparently, women tend to get embarrassed by noises they make while in the toilet and the device is supposed to drown out those sounds (hmmm, it only managed to freak me out a bit and not calm me while i was there..). It is called Otochime or ‘Sound Princess’ feature. It not only masks toilet sounds but also saves water as the user doesn’t have to use the actual flush more then necessary. One of the brands called ‘Eco-Otome’ makes a sound blocker which fits on a key ring. It can be attached to a mobile phone and it’s flushing sound lasts 25seconds. Of course, the designs are very girlie – lots of pink, with pictures of ribbons, etc…
Heated seat, six different spray modes, automatically opening and closing lid, deodoriser, air drying function and auto-flush. Aparently there are some with MP3 players, fragrance vaporisers, self-cleaning and motion activating lights.
It is important to keep track which ones have auto-flush.. I got too used to this feature and the next place we stayed in used an old-fashioned lever to flush. Let’s just say that Husband was not too pleased..