Home > Focus on Japan 2009 > Back to the Land of Civilized Toilets

Back to the Land of Civilized Toilets

December 30th, 2009

I must say, my backside is glad to be back in Japan. Not that American toilets are terrible, but they pale in comparison to Japan’s. Especially in winter. The heated toilet seat is one of the greatest inventions ever. I can’t say how many times in the past few week I had to either pre-sit on the seat, clothed, to warm it up a bit, or else take the cold plunge right off the bat. Back here in Japan, the seat is nice & toasty whenever you need to use it.

Another difference, although strange: American toilets are lower and smaller. That’s the opposite of what I’d expect, but–at least with the units I used–that’s what I found. The seat itself is smaller in America, more round I think, making it harder to reach in while sitting; in Japan, the seats are more comfortably elongated, plenty of room. Also, I found myself sitting close to the floor in the U.S., while Japanese toilets are comfortably higher.

Bidet-Toilet-Seat-AAnd the thing I missed most: a built-in bidet. Many Japanese toilets have them, with electronic controls on the side. Push a button, and a retractable arm comes out and then washes your backside with warm water. I resisted using these for year, being wary of anything that did something like that, but Sachi got me using it–and I came to depend on it so much that I very much noticed the lack of this feature while in the U.S. Not only does it keep you cleaner, but it saves a considerable amount of toilet paper. Why this has not caught on more, I don’t know. But it’s fairly common in Japan, and has been in use for decades.

2009-10-19Finally, there are public restrooms. I have noted this before on this blog, but public toilet stalls in America are horrible for privacy. Not only do the partitions start a foot or more from the floor, but there are half-inch-wide vertical gaps between the stall doors and the adjacent walls. How many times have you sat down in a stall in a crowded public restroom only to have more than one person press their eyeballs up against this crack to check on who’s in there? In Japan, public toilet stalls are more or less sealed. While there is a gap between the partition and the ceiling, everything else is closed. No gaps at foot level, no gaps in the door–you have actual privacy (visually, at least, although it helps with smells, too). In case there’s an issue about whether or not a stall is occupied, either the doors swing open when not locked, or there is an indicator outside showing if the lock is engaged.

Japanese-ToiletThat said, one still finds, all too often, “Japanese style” toilets in public stalls–that is, the weird, old-fashioned, hooded trenches which require one to squat down. Disgusting for several reasons, which I will not go into here. Why these are still used is beyond me–people who hate sharing a seat, or a concession to older people, perhaps. However, you rarely find a public bathroom which does not give you an option–though often times, if there are both types, the Japanese-style stall will be the only one unoccupied.

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  1. Jeff9
    January 6th, 2010 at 00:19 | #1

    The Japanese Toilet is really a toilet bidet combination and although nice is also very expensive. You can keep your current toilet and get the same benefits by adding a hand bidet sprayer for very little cost. A hand held bathroom bidet sprayer is so much better than a stand alone bidet and this is why: 1. It’s less expensive (potentially allot less) 2.You can install it yourself = no plumber expense 3. It works better by providing more control of where the water spray goes and a greater volume of water flow. 4. It requires no electricity and there are few things that can go wrong with it. Available at http://www.bathroomseprayers.com

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