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High-tech toilet maker eyes global throne

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Go, TOTO! No one will complain about if their bottoms cleaner, in principle, will they?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Nobody wants publicity from Madonna, even if it's free.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Washlet, the only civilised toilet on the planet.

It should be everywhere!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

with an iPad, coffee machine and bento box, you've got an office for the day.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think his opinion of Americans not wanting to talk about toilets is a bit off. My guess would be a lack of good marketing and sales. I love washlet dunnies too, but I doubt if they would take off in Austtralia cos water is so expensive.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Wouldn't work in San Antonio, where the water is too mineralized. Mineral crystals are a plumber's friend there -- you need a chisel to break it free of immersed fittings.

I also wonder about all less-developed countries where drinking the water is a no-no. I will let you use your imagination.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I visited Japan last year and when I returned, I bought one right away. Now my wife and I only use that one and the others never get used. :) North America needs to advance to civility in that area. :)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Everyone who lives or has lived in Japan loves a washlet. whenever I travel overseas my ringpiece is in agony after a day or normal wiping.

Three reasons washlet has not caught on overseas.

They are really expensive outside Japan, and when vompared to a normal toilet seat Poor marketing in many countries you cannot have electric sockets in the bathroom by law.

But if I leave Japan I am buying a coupe, from the duty free at Bic Camera and they are coming with me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The only reason people are hygiene-obsessed and clean-freaks is clever marketing by the manufacturers. The human race has survived millions of years without these sissy-boy, vanity-based horrors. The Romans and the Greeks would have laughed.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

The Romans and the Greeks would have laughed.

They probably would have made me cry.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The only reason people are hygiene-obsessed and clean-freaks is clever marketing by the manufacturers.

Actually, no joke, hygiene and cleanliness save lives everyday. The discovery of the effects of washing one's hands has single-handedly saved millions of lives.

Personally, I prefer not to be around those that have not figured out how to keep themselves clean, especially after using a toilet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@lucabrasi

"The human race has survived millions of years without these sissy-boy, vanity-based horrors. "

Yes, we also have survived for thousands of years without cell phone, vehicles, internet, airplanes, refrigerator, TVs, radios, computers. Why don't you live without any of them for a year and let us know how you like it ?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I have to admit I use Washlets all the time: at home, at work and at train stations etc, if there is one to be found. But I don't think that in any way is a sign of my being civilised. Rather, it makes me a bit of a fussy wimp. But a shiny, clean wimp ; )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Japanese high-tech thrones are wonderful, but in most parts of the world, they would simply be a disaster. Who do you trust to maintain them and to install electrical circuits near your bottom? I would fear electrocution and stay away. There are something things that simply are only possible in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They just don't advertise it in North America. In decorating magazines it is not found so the masses are just not aware. When I ordered mine from Home Depot's website they offered a small amount of choices. I informed them when I picked it up that it is catching on all over the world. A month later the same site had 5 pages of them. Just coincidence I guess. They are starting to appear in new restaurants in downtown Toronto. We have ours on the main floor so when we have guests, they kinda pause at the door and have a priceless look on their face. They usually ask a lot of questions at that time of how it works. Yes, we have heard a couple of low squeals but they always emerge from the bathroom with a smile on their face... especially the women. :)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Washlets with all their sharp corners and protruding knooks and crannies are bacteria traps. Might be good in a private house but not in public areas or guest rooms. I never use them outside of my own bathroom.

Nanny state like Japan having a machine doing your paper work would work but not in countries where water is precious.

Toto while successful in their home market have a hard road to hoe abroad.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One issue in America, I imagine, is that with the average home now having at least one toilet for every bedroom, and often more, it's just not affordable to outfit every one of them with a washlet. Maybe they can reserve it for the "special" guest bathroom or master bath... high-end European manufacturers are already getting in the game in the U.S. (and in Europe, of course, they've had "analog" bidets for a century or two).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Washlet, ya. Would be great to have bacteria infested water spraying my ass. Seriously, how many of you take it apart, clean it out, and soak it in bleach to kill the bacteria? Just like a shower head, you should do this like once a month, it not more often.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Korlacan Kanthavilay:

" Washlet, ya. Would be great to have bacteria infested water spraying my ass. Seriously, how many of you take it apart, clean it out, "

Oh come on. You think your to-be-cleaned back end is sterile in its normal state? Come on. For showering and washing, you don´t need potable water, and in most of the world that is not what comes out of the tap anyway.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just wash the nozzle with bleach. Why would you need to take it apart?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those things are very welcome during the winter. I have always wondered if Toto has done any serious marketing towards the higher end housing market or even tried to jump on the tourist bandwagon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reliable electricity would be an issue in some countries, where otherwise it'd just revert to a normal toilet.

Though this'd be good for those people who don't wash their hands!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It’s because of the cultural taboo over talking about toilets, said Hiromichi Tabata, head of the international division at Washlet-maker TOTO, a company that also makes bath tubs, kitchen taps, basins and plumbing fixtures.

No idea what Mr. Tabata is talking about! If this were true, why are there so many ways to refer to a bathroom in English? Like others have had said, poor marketing and prices are main obstacles to washlets not becoming the norm in America. I have always thought Toto was sitting on a goldmine with their wonderful products - tis a shame the company has employees that don't know how to do their job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not a matter of Americans being shy and conservative in the area of personal hygiene. It's all a matter of marketing this wonderful product correctly and aggressively to the target population: aging middle class Americans. Nearly all my friends in the States who fit this demographic, have a box of so-called "baby wipes" (I affectionately call them "butt wipes") in their bathrooms, conveniently placed near the toilet. And whenever I share about my adored washlet toilet, everyone is so envious, asking "How can I get one for my house?". I truly believe that if Toto marketed their products in a smart way, there'd be a washlet in nearly every home in the U.S. and I'm sure that most if not all of Japan's current economic woes would be solved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm a buyer

2 ( +2 / -0 )

American taboo to talk about toilets? Hiromichi Tabata from Toto is full of BS. Americans can go to Home Depot anytime they want, without having to sit down and drink tea with a salesperson, and buy a toilet for around a hundred bucks, and install it themselves. Most people are not willing to pay three thousand dollars for a "high-tech" toilet.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@WilliB

No one said that feces was going to be sterile coming out, but it's hardly chock full of living bacteria that is harmful to humans.

@JA_Cruise

Cause it's the water inside the nozzles that hold bacteria. Not the outer portions.

@sctaber56

Baby wipes next to their toilets...really? They must have a lot of clogged pipes, cause that's exactly what they'd do to their plumbing. Baby wipes aren't designed to be flushable. Unless they simply toss the wipes into the bin, instead of flushing them.

@shimonetadaisuki

Ya, for American men, we'll talk about everything. Our conversations usually end up leading to something about sex, cars, TV, or pooping. It's definitely nothing that's taboo. Maybe women don't talk about it...I have no idea. Who knows what they talk about when they're all grouped together.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

lucabrasi,

The Romans and the Greeks would have laughed.

I don't think so.

I'm not sure about the Greeks, but the Romans would probably have welcomed it. They didn't use toilet paper, they washed, using a sponge on a long stick:

http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2009/08/what-the-romans-used-for-toilet-paper.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

shimonetadaisuki

Most people are not willing to pay three thousand dollars for a "high-tech" toilet.

Agreed.

But a washlet attachment doesn't cost anything like that. I think ours was about 20,000 yen. And there were cheaper ones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Godan-san,

Why are there so many ways to refer to a bathroom in English?

Because many people are embarrassed about it.

Let's face it, it isn't a bathroom, is it?

It threw me the first time an American asked me where the bathroom was, I thought she wanted a bath. Seriously.

Toilet comes from a French word meaning "towel," the meaning changed to washing hands and face and then, to a place to wash one's hands and face and finally to a place where a person gets rid of bodily wastes.

French people prefer the English expression W.C. and in England we prefer the French word toilet. Generally speaking, words in our own language have more impact and those borrowed from another language don't. That's why we don't use words like pss and sht in polite company and if it is absolutely necessary to describe these functions, we use the latin based urinate and defecate.

But, for whatever reason, Japanese people are not as embarrassed to talk about it and they don't resort to euphemisms like "Number One," and "Number Two," it's unchi and oshiko.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“Americans avoid talking about those kinds of things so we can’t expect success from word-of-mouth, even if they recognize our products are excellent.

I'm going to have to disagree with these people. You walk into any Home Depot or Lowes and there is an entire AISLE of toilets to choose from. We don't pretend we don't use them. I think the biggest issue with the high-tech toilets is that American homes normally are not wired at that location. But I guarantee you that if I had one in the guest bathroom, (along with an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet explaining all the buttons), any guests would be asking about it when they left the bathroom. I think the REAL issue in America has to do with tariffs. I did a search on Toto fixtures and couldn't find ANY, nevermind the washlets. I DID find some "bidet seats" by another manufacturer, but they were quite a bit more than the cost of a basic toilet. This one seemed to come closest to the features of a washlet:

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202566084/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051

Some viewers were irate over a 1982 television commercial for the newly-released Washlet which featured a girl trying to wipe black paint off her hand with paper, making a mess in the process.

“Paper won’t fully clean it,” she told viewers. “It’s the same with your bottom.”

LOL. Short and to the point. Very effective advertising.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Water Closet" is a total mystery to me. It brings up visions of a custodial closet that has a deep sink and a drain in the floor.

Most of the bathrooms in American homes contain both bathing and waste-handling fixtures, so "bathroom" becomes the default name for where either function is performed. Real estate listings will list a house as having "2 1/2 bath". This means two rooms with bathing and waste-handling fixtures, and one room with only a waste-handling fixture and sink. I guess "2 1/2 dumpers" is not pretty enough for realtors. For public places, "bathroom" is normally replaced by "restroom" (another mystery as we don't do much "resting" in there.) Less common and dying out fast is the "Lavatory". "Toilet" refers to the actual unisex fixture, rather than the room it's in. For men's restrooms, an additional fixture is the "urinal".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

American taboo to talk about toilets?

Anyone else remember the fuss raised on JT when they did a piece on the 'Toire no kami-sama' song? It seemed to be mainly Americans complaining at great length about the use of the word 'toilet'.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I remember the article about the "toilet God", but I don't remember too much commenting on the use of the word "toilet" by ANY nationality. What do you remember them saying? As I recall, the article was pretty funny, considering the inspiration for the song.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Restroom works sometimes my friends husband routinely falls asleep on the toilet. About it being a "god", how many have not paid "homage" to one on all fours?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

American don't like the word "toilet" or "WC". Every time I look for a toilet, I have to ask for a "restroom". Furthermore, there are too few public toilets, particularly around Times Square.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

American don't like the word "toilet" or "WC". Every time I look for a toilet, I have to ask for a "restroom".

I'm not sure where that comes from. If someone asked me, "Where is a/the toilet?", I'd have no problems at all with the usage. "Restroom" is fine but if someone says "toilet" that just means I now know the REASON for the search as well as the destination. They still haven't encroached into the "TMI Zone".

About it being a "god", how many have not paid "homage" to one on all fours?

Ahh yes! ALL HAIL RALPH, THE PORCELAIN GOD! It takes more than one hand to count the number of times I've knelt at his altar while calling out his name!

Actually IIRC, the "Toire no Kamisama Song" was inspired by the song writer's grandmother, who told her grandchild that a beautiful god lived in the bowl and girls who diligently cleaned the bowl would be blessed with fair skin and stunning beauty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I bought a Toto Washlet and I am so glad I did.

American toilets need a fully functioning body and nervous system and I have MS so that often left me with scorched shorts and a dirty butt.

Since I installed my Washlet, I leave the bathroom worry free. The peace of mind is worth as much as the hygiene benefits.

(The text system does not handle TM superscript properly: ™ )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Western countries haven't needed them because their bathrooms have long been comfortable anyway, with central heating and thick insulation in the walls. Japan's electric toilet seats started out as being heating devices, a function of the primitive construction of Japanese homes that made sitting on the throne for any period of time a terrible ordeal.

The technology and engineering required in keeping a home consistently warm and comfortable far exceed the technology of putting a heating coil inside a toilet seat. As for the bottom washing, the French have had the bidet for ages.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Western countries haven't needed them because their bathrooms have long been comfortable anyway, with central heating and thick insulation in the walls.

I've been in my share of cold bathrooms in Western countries.

But of course your generalization - based on your extensive knowledge of all the Western countries, is far more informative.

As for the bottom washing, the French have had the bidet for ages.

So what?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Americans for the most part have warm bathrooms. European countries...not so much. My old German apt the bathroom was concrete, then tiled from floor to ceiling. The only thing keeping it warm was the radiator heater, which didn't keep it warm at all. I ended up buying an electric fan heater to keep the room warm. I had to preheat my bathroom for 10 mins, before deciding to take a shower or anything in there, cause it was freezing cold during the winter.

My old British home...terrible too. Tiny radiator to keep it warm and a gigantic single pane window. They also carpeted the floor and surrounded the bathtub with wood. That bathroom made absolutely zero sense. I cut up a blanket and covered up the window with it. The 1/2 bath on the 1st floor was just simply cold. Zero radiator, so I only use it to pee. Too cold to even think about sitting on the toilet.

I'd love a cushioned and heated toilet seat. I don't need a bidet though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So what?

So... why do foreign visitors to Japan "marvel" at a water jet that sprays one's bottom? They've been around for ages in France and elsewhere. I guess positioning it in a toilet seat is a bit of novelty, but still...

based on your extensive knowledge of all the Western countries

I think you'll find that central heating and extensive insulation are now standard in developed Western countries, whereas in Japan they are not. You need to get out more.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"It’s because of the cultural taboo over talking about toilets,”

What a crock. If Americans (or Westerners in general) were so 'shy' about the scatalogical, as Tabata claims, why do toilets in Japan have a 'sound eminating' function in women's washrooms? for example. And that's but one example of a generalization.

One reason is DEFINITELY cost, but another is about the gratuitous nature of a lot of the equipment and/or its functions. I mean, in many cases, in people's homes, they have these washlets with all the functions at the side of the seat, then a (removable) remote control within arms reach that has many of the same functions? Now, as a guy, who stands up to pee, such a remote is closer than bending over to push a button if I never lift up or put the seat down (which of course I always do), but what's the purpose of the other functions on a remote when you would need to be sitting down to use them anyway?

Anyway, I don't have a washlet in my home -- a little too dainty for me, I'm afraid -- but there are times when I miss the heated seat if nothing else, and I do think the washlets as a whole are pretty wicked tech. Not at all necessary for life, as some posters seem to think it is, but it can make it easier for some. In any case, there's nothing wrong with making it available.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Why all the silly debate? Warm seat(when needed) plus a clean bum is a good thing. Or do just prefer the John Wayne paper that's tough as dirt and doesn't take ##it off anyone? Your choice, pardner.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smithinjapan-san,

I don't know where you live in Japan or what kind of house/apartment you have, but many apartments in Tokyo have walls so thin and are so tiny that you can hear EVERYTHING that goes on in the "smallest room."

Supposing you had just had a meal of rich, starchy potatoes in a sauce of baked beans and, with friends over, as you sit in the kotatsu, you feel the gases developing. You manage to hold it in until you get to the bathroom, where, to your relief, you find there is a "sound eliminating" function. Mistime it, though, or have the volume down too low on the "SE" function and everyone will be treated to your toot at full volume.

Washlets, though, are great.

Once you get used to them, you can't do without them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think you'll find that central heating and extensive insulation are now standard in developed Western countries, whereas in Japan they are not. You need to get out more.

I think you'll find that you haven't visited all the developed Western countries, and that your generalization is based on speculation that attempts to cover countries you don't know and haven't been to.

I've been in plenty of bum-chilling bathrooms in Western countries where a heated toilet seat would be welcome, and there are many people who would be happy to have them. You ever see those soft toilet seat covers that people use? It's fair to assume that their function is not purely to soak up piss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@wipeout

I think you'll find that you haven't visited all the developed Western countries,

12 visited at last count. Lived in 4.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

12 visited at last count. Lived in 4.

Precisely my point. You can't speak for all of the Western countries, because you've only seen a few of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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