Sunday, January 25, 2009


As you know, I like taking pictures of interesting toilets. So when I saw a newspaper advertisement for an exhibition on toilets, I had to check it out. The exhibition was put on by ToTo, a Japanese toilet manufacturer.

This is one of Japan's earliest styles of toilets, a platform over a river, next to a rice field, used 4,000 years ago.

Later, people used a device similar to a western chamber pot, although it had a drawer for sand which could be removed, kind of like kitty litter. The box on the left is for poop, and the one on the right is for pee.

The box on the left is filled with fragrant tree branches. The one on the right is a miniature replica of a compost device, and people used the human manure for their gardens.

This is an early ceramic squat toilet, which would be set into a wooden floor above a pit.
Japan's first western-style toilets were manufactured in the 1940s. The seat and lid are made of wood.

This women's urinal was produced for the 1964 Olympics in Japan, but it never became popular. It seems to be a compromise between Western toilets (which don't require squatting) and Eastern squat toilets (which are cleaner because the user doesn't have to touch a dirty toilet seat).

Today, Western style toilets are replacing squat toilets in Japan. Most apartments and hotels and public places have Western style toilets. In public restrooms in the train stations, both kinds of toilets are available. Usually people wait in line and use the first toilet that becomes available, either squat-style or Western. I am comfortable with either style. In Japan, cleanliness is not an issue in public bathrooms, but in other places where the restrooms are sometimes dirty, I prefer a squat toilet because I don't have to touch it, and it's certainly more comfortable than trying to "hover" over a Western-style toilet. I have used squat toilets in Peru, Bolivia and Vietnam.
Above, the requisite slippers are pictured next to the modern Japanese toilet. In Japan, you must remove your shoes before entering a house or apartment, so as not to bring dirt from the outside into the home. Similarly, when entering the restroom in a house or apartment, you put on the toilet slippers that will be provided, and remove them when leaving the bathroom. This way, you don't bring dirtiness from the bathroom into the rest of the house. (Not to worry, the bathrooms are always very clean in any case!)

Many Japanese toilets have a bidet or shower feature, operated by controls on an arm. The shower water squirts out of a nozzle at the back of the toilet seat, and it is clean water coming from a spigot, not from the toilet bowl or tank. Often, the seat is heated for your comfort, and (as I mentioned in a previous post) there is a "flushing sound effects" device which makes a fake flushing noise so that others won't hear you using the toilet. I have even seen a toilet with a light in the bowl, so you can see it as you enter a dark restroom.
Some toilets, like this shark one, have a lid that opens automatically when someone enters the stall.

There are extra large toilets for sumo wrestlers (while a normal toilet seat measures 370 x 452 mm, the sumo wrestlers' toilet is 420 x 530 mm),

extra small ones for children,
and extra fancy ones for adults.

ToTo, the company hosting this exhibition, exports squat toilets to Southeast Asia,
and Western-style toilets to China.

This is how Japanese people draw cartoon poop!
Hand driers in Japan work much better than driers in the U.S.! The air comes out both the front and back of this device and whirls around in this compartment rather than dissipating into the room. Your hands dry very quickly!
By Japanese standards, this is a very large tub! In Japan, people use their tub for soaking and warming the body, not for bathing. Since people shower and wash before entering the tub, the water in the tub stays clean and can be used by several family members in the course of an evening. The flat object on the left-hand wall is a lid for covering the tub, to preserve the heat. In the past, all Japanese bathtubs had a water heating device to re-warm the bath water that was in the tub, but since some people were burned by the device, it's seldom used anymore.
This is a more compact Japanese bathroom, with a shower and bath tub. The little stool is for the people who like to sit down while taking a shower. Squatting or sitting is the traditional Japanese way to take a shower.
In this fancy room, you can watch TV while taking a bath.

And speaking of fancy Japanese technology, here Itsumi looks at a model kitchen shelf for storing dishes. This shelf is normally above head level, but when you push a button the shelf lowers into reach. The floor of the shelf is a metal rack, and the drawer that Itsumi is holding collects water that drips through the rack. This way, you can put your clean dishes directly onto the rack to dry, skipping the drying rack step and saving space that a drying rack would occupy on your counter. Much of Japanese technology is about saving space!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I like the idea of that dish rack!