If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll know that their toilets are high tech. Mostly pioneered by Toto, these toilets often come with bidets – extensions that spray water (the temperature and the strength of spray are adjustable) to clean your behind, whether you’re doing the #1 or the #2. But those functions have been around for decades.
These days, many of them have added way more functions that seem quite frivolous, but if you’ve been using them for a while, it would seem like a necessity. Here are some quirky and modern functions of a high-tech Japanese toilet that may surprise you:
For cleaner, dryer businesses
Self-cleaning loo: If you’re a clean freak, toilets can actually self-sterilise their nozzles (the ones used for the water sprays). The nozzles are usually set well behind in a compartment anyway so there’s no risk of contamination, but if you want to be extra sure, you can hit the ‘self-sterilise’ button. Also, some toilets come with self-washing function – press a button and the entire bowl undergoes a rinse so you don’t really need that toilet brush!
Soap and massage wash: If you’re a paranoid about how clean you can get, there are models that allow you to add soap to your water wash! Soap is often mixed in with the water for the first few seconds of the wash. If you want to add something extra, some fancier units may also have water functions that include pulsating or vibrating sprays, nicknamed “massage cleaning.”
Blow-dried bum: Once you’re done, you don’t even need toilet paper: most toilets come with a blow-dry function! Imagine having a hair-drying for your nether regions – and if it’s a particularly hot day, some units have the option for cold air too!
No more embarassing #2s
Fake water sound: Japanese people are shy – and even their toilets can help alleviate any issues of embarrassment. At most toilets, you’ll see a function to add a fake flushing/water sound – this is because they don’t want others to hear their business – whether it’s a #1 or #2. It’s pretty handy if you’re in a crowded loo and you accidentally have a messy business…
Deodoriser: Going one step further, some toilets go one step further to alleviate that embarrassment of someone else knowing what business you did in there. If you’ve had a particularly stinky time, you can be saved by toilets that have a ‘deodorising’ function – yes, it’s designed to minimise the odour. Some units have a ‘power deodoriser’ too.
For your convenience and enjoyment
Remote controlled: Most toilet controls are mounted on the wall, but some fancy units – usually in homes or luxury establishments – offer remote controls so you don’t have to reach for anything!
Auto seat cover: If you think that’s lazy, many loos now come with automatic seats – when they sense your presence, they automatically lift the seat cover (or lower it) for you. Some also light up automatically – handy if you’re using the loo in the middle of the night and don’t want to turn on the lights.
Warm seats: Since winters in Japan can be super cold, having a warm seat to do your business is a bonus so yes, most toilets in Japan have built-in seat warmers. Some of them even have timers so they can set when to turn the heater on and off automatically!
Music option: If you’re the type to spend a long time in the loo and you forgot to bring in a form of entertainment (ie. your phone), then fret not. There are loos that come with a selection of classical music that you can play at the touch of a button! Don’t be surprised if you see remote controlled loos that come with wifi so you can have your Spotify or Netflix on the go.
Toilet for your health
Toilets in Japan have now gone where no toilet has gone: they’re now veering into healthcare territory.
Fatigue Measurement: Found at Ebina Service Area in Kanagawa Prefecture, the toilets here can actually measure your fatigue level! This is a relevant concern since this is a rest area for highway drivers and you don’t want a fatigued driver on the road. To measure your fatigue level, the toilet doesn’t use cameras, but instead rely on a number of vibration sensors built into the toilet seat. The sensors analyse “pulse fluctuations” that calculate how fatigued you are within just 60 seconds as you sit down on it.
Your toilet doctor: Having a toilet that can measure blood sugar & hormone levels seem like a futuristic dream, but Japan already developed that back in 2009, however, they were discontinued due to low demand. Meanwhile Toto’s “Flowsky” toilet is used in hospitals: looking like an ordinary toilet, it’s designed to check for abnormalities in urine flow that might signal bladder or prostate problems. At the latest CES, they’ve revealed the Wellness Toilet with smart capabilities: sit on it, and it’ll your skin and body, sensing your posture and overall wellbeing. Make a deposit, and the toilet scans that, then takes all the information and forwards it to an app on your smartphone.
These are just the beginning of something huge… but for now, we’ll have to contend with all the fancy features designed to make us feel clean.