A post on Tokyo conveniences would not be complete without a blurb on toilets.
The first time I visited Japan in 2009, I was startled by the toilets. Almost as much as I was by the Beijing toilets, but in a totally different way. Whereas the Chinese squat toilets forced me to get reacquainted with the basics, Japanese toilets scared me with their advanced electronics.
Japanese toilets are decked out with heated seats, water sprays, air dryers and music. The heated seats are kind of nice, especially in winter and after you get over the first-time shock. The water sprays are mysterious – they’re automatic sprays to wash your netheregions. How they work I’m not sure – I’ve never been brave enough to look and risk a facial. The air dryers are practical, in theory. The music is just wierd. Apparently some Japanese like their privacy so much, they play music to distract eavesdroppers. So make that two notches on the weird scale: toilet music and eavesdroppers.
My Japanese has not improved much over the years and my experience with new and improved toilets was interesting. Normally the buttons are labeled with instructions and graphics. Rarely are they written in English. In my recent visit, I was bewildered by additional new buttons. My problem was I couldn’t tell which was to flush. On the up side: one of the buttons was a speaker phone to get help.
Toto is the leading maker of Japanese toilets. They have a Tokyo showroom which we’d attempted to visit but didn’t because they’d changed addresses and we were hopelessly lost. I wish now that we had tried harder.
Apparently they have a poo-powered motor bike on display. Despite its design, the Toilet Bike Neo is not actually powered by human waste. The three-wheeled 250cc motorcycle runs on a biogas fuel, which is fertilized, purified and compressed from livestock waste and household wastewater. Toto revealed the bike in a 2012 media release (see DigitalTrends article here) but didn’t share its general production plans.
I didn’t see any on the streets of Tokyo.
Tokyo, January 2016