BY WENDY HUNG
Last week, New York City’s Kitano Hotel announced that it will transform each 149 rooms with Japanese-style washlets or super toilets by the end of the month. Each will include features that aren’t uncommon to those found in Japan: warm-water rinsing modes, warm air dryer, “adjustable cleansing wand,” heated seat, automatic air purifier and wireless remote control.
It made us wonder what exactly are washlets and all the wonderous things we need to know about them. For every traveler to Japan, the one single item that is part of the amazed discovery of its culture lies in the high-tech toilets. So here are 25 things you didn’t know about Japanese’s fantastic, super toilets:
25. Super Toilet is what many travelers now refer to them as. But in Japanese, these high-tech, multi-feature toilets are: woshuretto (ウォシュレット) = washlet.
24. The original idea of washlets first came from the western culture, the U.S. released the very first version back in 1964.
23. Think International! Toto Ltd is the world’s largest manufacturing company of toilets based in Japan. Today, it has plants in: China, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S., China, Indonesia, Vietnam. It also has a showroom in London.
22. No, not the dog from Wizard of Oz! Toto is the abbreviation of Tōyō Tōki (東洋陶器) which stands for: oriental ceramics.
20. During WWII, American forces who were stationed in Japan were not used to squatting toilets, and requested flush toilets to be installed throughout the country.
19. To the masses! Toto has sold 20 million washlets to a nation of 160 million people.
18. Turn up the heat. One of the most beloved functions of super toilets was created since ceramic toilet seats were too cold especially during Japan’s harsh winters.
17. Marriage Saver: that’s what people refer to the function of super toilets that automatically put the lids and/or seat covers down.
16. Home is where the bum is. More than half of the households in Japan have high-tech super toilets (washlets) installed.
14. The Neorest was the first version that knew each owner’s habits. It takes two days to learn and can adjust heat temperature as well as retractable nozzles. It also knows when the owner has completed its business.
13. Shower Toilet is a product of Inax, another Japanese toilet manufacturing company. These toilets spray at a 70-degree angle and obviously performs greater firing power and accuracy.
12. “Clean is Happy”: In 2007, this was a campaign that broke Japan’s Super Toilets market into the American public. For years, the Japanese never understood why Americans didn’t have washlets installed. Part of the campaign included: street badgest of smiley-face badges handed out, viral web ads and a website that targeted specifically toward the American audience.
11. Turn back time. In 1917, Toto was founded by Kazuchika Okura who was working for a ceramics company and thought it was a good idea to make toilet bowls.
10. Intelligent Toilet is a version that measures: blood sugar in urine, pressure pads and weight.
9. Madonna power. In 2005, the superstar toured back in Japan after twelve years and publicly said how much she had missed Japanese warm toilets.
8. Bottom have feelings! In an ad in 1982, Japanese pop star: Jun Togawa stood on a fake butt reading a letter from her butt. It said: even bottoms have feelings!
7. The Wash Air Seat arrived in Japan in 1964, manufactured by American Bidet Company. It was a detachable seat with a nozzle that sprayed warm water and blew hot air for drying purposes. Back in the States, these toilets were originally produced for hospital patients who had a hard time using toilet paper.
5. Customize me. Some can now replace toilet paper, some wipe before washing, some wash before wiping, some wash only, and some wipe only. Some super toilets also can adjust heat temperature or blow dry according to the owner’s liking, between 40 °C and 60 °C.
4. Flush Princess. Also called: otohime (音姫) is a function that exists in most female public restrooms. Essentially, it’s a box that plays fake flushing sounds to cover up the noise of bodily functions.
2. Celeb buzz! Stars who have toilets in their homes: Will Smith, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez.
1. Back to the future. In the making are: talking toilets that greet the owner, or datas that can automatically be sent to doctors through internet or cell phones.