April 9, 2014

"This Japanese toilet should make Americans very worried."

"I suspect that the real reason we don't adopt Japanese toilets is the very fact that people are so eager to give reasons not to."

49 comments:

annk said...

He might be on to something. A corollary is the British insistence on separate knobs for hot and cold water, an illogical and irritating holdover from better days, perhaps.

persiflage mahal said...

Meh, there's a lot to be said for functional simplicity too. I'm no Luddite but an electronically controlled toilet with butt-washing jets and it's own heating system just seems a little over-the-top.

David said...

Check out the Kohler C-3 200. Yours for about $1300.

Kohler also makes the Numi ($6400). It's a self cleaning toilet, meaning that the toilet is cleaned, not you. To many that is a better feature, I would venture.

Irene said...

No need to worry. Americans won't accept the toilets for the same reasons Americans don't understand bidets.

When I once contemplated installing a bidet, a realtor told me it would diminish the resale value of the house.

When a friend visited me when I was living in Italy, he saw a bidet for the first time and insisted (in a know-it-all way) that bidets were for doing hand laundry.

rhhardin said...

WHen the power goes out, all you have to do with an American toilet is get a bucket of water from the sump hole in the basement and dump it into the toilet bowl, and it flushes itself.

Crapper knew what he was doing.

george said...

We're on our second Toto Washlet. The first one started leaking after about 15 years.
It's the basic model-warm seat, warm flush water (front or rear).
Wouldn't be without it!

Patrick O said...

Why is it we're always compared as technological rejects to people we've relatively recently beat in war?

Maybe we just have other things we're concerned about. Like birthrate.

Charlie Eklund said...

What is it about former Axis nations and their weird toilets? Here's some info on German toilets, which are built to allow the user to thoroughly inspect...well, you know:

http://asecular.com/~scott/misc/toilet.htm

Unknown said...

My parents have one, as does a friend whose wife taught English in Japan. It's pretty awesome, and it's just a seat and some tubing you can install yourself. When you think about it, wiping your bum with just a bit of tissue is not all that great. A stream of warm water gets you much cleaner, and it has an air dryer too.

tim maguire said...

America is in decline because we aren't interested in complicated toilets with a lot of questionable features.

David Smith said...

My last visit to Japan was in '72, and at 25 my knees were still good enough to squat and use their hole-in-the-floor toilets. Don't think I could manage them today, so these gizmos seem like an improvement, but I think they've gone overboard.

Patrick O said...

Also, what's the water usage on one of those? That's a huge issue in California. That's not an issue in Japan.

If it uses too much water for California, it will never catch on in the States. We're the place those things would land.

Patrick O said...

Charlie,

Good point! I stayed at a hotel in Tubingen for a week that had those toilets. It was very weird. Especially when it took a bit of time.

Sam L. said...

Here's the plastic wrap:

http://www.amazon.com/New-Wrap-Plastic-Inches-Import/dp/B000VICIPQ/ref=sr_1_cc_3?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1397091061&sr=1-3-catcorr&keywords=japanese+plastic+wrap+for+kitchens

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Irri-gato?

At least it solves one of the problems I've always wondered about -- how do blind people know when they're done wiping their bottom?

ddh said...

These hi-tech toilets are terrific and easy to use. I would be willing to install them in our home, but my Japanese wife thinks it wouldn't be worth the trouble. The squat toilets are almost impossible to find--I've only seen one, and my wife was horrified that I might have used it (I didn't).

My peeve with Japanese public toilets is that few provide any means to dry your hands. All Japanese go around with facecloths in their pockets to dry their hands because they can't assume that air dryers will be available (you never see paper towels).

Michael K said...

Another sitzpinkler fan.

MayBee said...

I loved my Japanese toilet, especially the heated seat. Another feature I loved was the big flush and little flush options. Better than the three flushes because the pressure is too low in So Cal.

Some Japanese toilets conserve water by running the fresh water through a little sink at the top, then down to flush. That way you wash your hands with the same water that will flush the toilet.

Bob R said...

Heck with the toilet, but I REALLY want the Saran Wrap.

Beldar said...

I have one reason not to: They're very expensive!

Mark O said...

I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so.

Henry said...

Why does the fellow assume the chief in New Guinea isn't hip to the situation? You're rich. We're poor. We're not idiots.

I've been reading a book on missionary pilots in New Guinea. The mission supports translators and churches in remote communities and covers some of its costs by flying goods -- and people -- in and out.

The author knows that the missionaries rub anthropologists the wrong way, but he points out -- do you know what it means to these communities to have regular visits from us? They have access to goods and medicine. They can ship their peanut crop to the city for a higher price and buy goods they otherwise could never afford.

Glenn Howes said...

I have 2 Toto Washlets in the house. The upstairs is the premium model with auto flush. One of life's great luxuries. BTW, all you need extra is a nearby power outlet ; assuming a reasonably compatible toilet model, it just replaces the seat.

As for resources, I'm more concerned with the $60+ a year of electricity it uses keeping the water and the seat warm.

Barbara said...

I'm wondering how we could combine the toilet features with the saran wrap. They're both so nifty.

When we spent a month in Japan two years ago I could hardly bear to come home to my American toilet. It was almost the best thing about our trip and I was sad I could find no postcards featuring their toilets.

William said...

If,as some comments indicate, this is such a vast improvement, why haven't the Japanese marketed it better. Maybe the problem isn't American resistance to new ideas, but poor Japanese salesmanship. Sony hasn't had a hit product since the Walkman. They should look into this.

ironrailsironweights said...

It's easier to have an outhouse and use corn cobs as t.p.

Peter

Joan said...

But let me assure you, there is nothing in the pipeline that is better than a heated toilet with a push-button flush.

The author suffers from a lack of imagination.

bidetsprayerman said...

Japanese Toilets look cool but they are expensive (some very) and cost allot to install and maintain. A much more practical approach to superior bathroom hygiene is the Hand Bidet Sprayer. Costs a fraction, no new plumbing needed, and actually does a better job cleaning you because you have more control of where it sprays. See www.bathroomsprayers.com.

lgv said...

I've been on trips that started in Japan with their fancy toilets en route to rural Indonesia with its squat toilets, finally ending up on a boat with marine heads (hand pump).

The low cost American toilet seems a great choice. No electric buttons and $1000+ price tag. The squat toilets don't work for us that have bad knees and marine heads (no TP down the drain) are just as bad.

We looked at the hat box toilet for our new house, but the $5k price tag was a bit much. I was able to find better ways to waste $4.7k.

richlb said...

I visited my brother in Japan and loved the toilet. I thought the butt sprayer (is that what the technical name is?) would be intimidating, but you can adjust the power from a light rinsing to a pressure wash. The heated seat also keeps the entire room warm.

The last thing I liked about it was there was no separate sink. It was built into the lid of the toilet. For many American homes with a half-bath, you could replace your existing sink area with a standup shower and add the toilet w/ built in sink combo. I don't know why that particular feature hasn't caught on for small bathrooms in the States.

stlcdr said...

America is, on the whole, a walmart culture. Cheapest thing which does the job well (sliding back to 'good enough').

But who is to say you can't get such features on a toilet in the US? While most who would buy such a toilet would install it in one bathroom, when houses have 2 or 3 or more, it'd get expensive really quickly.

Regardless, US toilets are superior to UK toilets; maybe things have changed in the past few years.

But, we could also argue, conversely, why Japanese don't have lots of the great things that the US has. Big roomy closets, ceiling fans, big ass V8 trucks, riding mowers, electric - electronic - toothbrushes, steaks the size of New York, and last but not least, silverware.

Brando said...

While this toilet sounds glorious and good, the hi-tech nature of it offers more chances for malfunctioning (and good luck if the power goes out). With a standard toilet, if it isn't flushing properly it usually requires just a bit of work. Here you'd probably need a technician.

And why is the push button on the wall such a selling point? I never flush while I'm still sitting on the bowl. Like everyone from the Queen of England to the lowliest serf, I prefer to stand up when I'm done, and glance at my masterwork before cleaning and flushing.

MattL said...

So, we should follow the lead of the stagnating Japanese in order to de-stagnate our own selves?

"Noah Smith is an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University. He blogs at..."

Sounds like he's trying to be the next Tyler Cowen and failing. Expect him to tell us about good brunch restaurants next.

I'm not British, but you'll have to take my separate hot / cold knobs from my cold dead hands. They offer much better temperature control, and it's the one firm requirement I won't budge on with my wife when we redo our bathroom.

Tibore said...

I don't know why so many people here are so cynical about these things. To me, they sound great. I'm not yet ready to spend that much on a john when I'm still in my "starter property" condo, but whenever I upgrade to a real house I'm definitely thinking of getting one of those things.

MattL said...

Japan: Where taking a dump is fun and young people don't want to have sex.

Maybe there's a connection?

FleetUSA said...

I've actually used one. Very comforting but I don't think we need that technology.

Charles Chambers said...

I doubt that the Japanese have gone out in droves to buy out truck sized BBQs that cost $5000+.

One can get through the day without a $5,000 toilet and BBQ.

Peter said...

I had an apartment with a large radiant heater next to the toilet. If you want to be warm when you're doing your business, that would be a huge improvement over a heated seat. (I turned it on with a switch, although I suppose it could be improved with a motion sensor.)

In any case, I really don't see any resistance in the USA to using imported technologies. In that respect, the USA is far more open than Japan- or, really, just about any country.




John said...

Guys,

Never, ever, under any circumstances, push the ATR button should you find yourself on one of these thrones.

John Henry

(ATR = Automatic Tampon Remover)

John said...

In the plant where I worked we once had a leak from a hot water line to the cold water.

We learned of it when my secretary came in and said "John, I hate to complain because it feels really nice, but there is hot water in the toilets."

John Henry

Ann Althouse said...

"Heck with the toilet, but I REALLY want the Saran Wrap."

It sounds like the original Saran Wrap that we had in the U.S. before people became convinced that the thin, stretchy plastic film was better.

I remember the original Saran Wrap. We had a gigantic roll of Saran Wrap -- some promotional version of it from before it was available in stores -- back in the 1950s.

I had my school lunch in Saran back when all the other kids had sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. I felt like a celebrity!

Ann Althouse said...

Fact-checking myself in Wikipedia, I see:

"In 1942, fused layers of original-specification Saran or PVDC were used to make woven mesh ventilating insoles for newly developed jungle or tropical combat boots made of rubber and canvas… In 1943, John Reilly (Ralph Wiley's boss)[4] and Ralph Wiley of The Dow Chemical Co. completed the final work needed for introduction of Saran (polyvinylidene chloride), which had been invented in 1939.[5] Saran monofilaments were also extruded for the first time.[6]… In 1949, Dow introduced Saran Wrap, a thin, clingy plastic wrap that was sold in rolls and used primarily for wrapping food. It quickly became popular for preserving food items stored in the refrigerator. Saran Wrap was later acquired by S. C. Johnson & Son. However, today's Saran Wrap is no longer composed of PVDC, supposedly due to environmental concerns with halogenated materials, and is now made from ordinary polyethylene."

Amexpat said...

At least it solves one of the problems I've always wondered about -- how do blind people know when they're done wiping their bottom?

One of my first memories was of my Dad explaining the solution to that problem. He told me to look at the toilet paper after each wipe and stop wiping when it's white. I must have been around 2 or 3 and I've been using that advice ever since (except when in Japan).

Amexpat said...

Introducing Japanese toilets or bidets might make it into the top ten things the US should adopt.

The clear number one is the metric system. Number two would be getting rid of small coins that no longer have a practical use, such as pennies and nickles.

n.n said...

Fresh water is a limited resource. Paper, or rather trees, is a renewable resource. This conversation would be advanced by qualifying the conditions of progress. For instance, stating the energy equations of producing fresh water and producing paper.

jaed said...

I'm not British, but you'll have to take my separate hot / cold knobs from my cold dead hands.

British sinks don't have separate hot and cold knobs. They have separate taps. One stream of hot, a separate stream of cold.

(I think the idea is that you fill the basin and use that, instead of washing under a mixed stream.)

Mark B said...

Very nice toilets, but the reason they have such appeal in Japan is that they don't heat their houses in the Winter. They do have shiny shoes and tight pussies.

Joe said...

I'd rather have a simple toilet for $150 that actually works and stays working.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Some people (and cultures?) are infatuated with gadgets. I suppose if you have enough cash to pay someone else to maintain them or replace them, it's a viable lifestyle.
Me, I look at something like the motorized air vent louvers in a Lexus, that wave gently back and forth, and I shudder. As an engineer, I hated being told to work on fluff like that (and I mostly managed to avoid companies that wanted me to). As a buyer, what I see is 1) having to learn how to work that junk, and 2) being ripped off by repair costs when (not if) it breaks.
The more essential the thing, the less complexity I want. For true essentials like sewage, I want true simplicity. Water pressure in the house, Check, and a free-flowing sewer, Check. (And don't kid yourselves that even those two things aren't actually very very complex inside.)