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Weird World - Your Guide to the Oddest Places on Earth: The Japanese Toilet

First of all, a word of apology. Though it is still very much in its infancy, we have high hopes for this Blog - hopes that it will be informative, inspiring, intelligent and cultured. Yet here is an article about a toilet.

In our defence, though, we think that one of the principle joys of travel is discovering how everyday culture can differ dramatically from place to place; how the ordinary can seem exotic and fascinating simply in its local interpretation. Here the Japanese excel - for our morning cuppa, read their exquisite tea ceremony; for our B&B, substitute their extraordinarily mannered ryokan. Yet in no area of daily life have they elevated the mundane more profoundly - and, depending on your sense of humour, amusingly - than in bathroom visits.

The modern-day Japanese toilet (the toire) is a thing of technological splendour, significantly more advanced than the modules which carried men to the moon, and boasting control panels with as many as 40 buttons. The range of features can be bewildering, especially to a western visitor, as only a few buttons feature pictograms, and a random selection could elicit a yelp of surprise. In the cold Japanese winter, the seat can be heated, and in summer, air-conditioning activated below the rim. Classical music or the sounds of the natural world can be played to soothe the user and disguise less delightful noises. And a series of adjustable nozzles eject jets of temperature controlled water and soap, followed by a blow dryer, for outstanding cleanliness. Then there are soft closing seats and glow-in-the-dark options, automatic flushing and ozone deodorant systems,
armrests and standing aids.

As long ago as 2002, it was reported that more than half of Japanese households owned a hi-tech loo - more than owned personal computers - so this is big business and certainly no passing fad. Features currently in development include talking and voice-activated toilets, and medical sensors to measure the pulse rate, blood pressure and body mass of the user, and analyse waste for health issues such as high blood sugar, automatically uploading the data to your doctor with a built-in internet connection. Truly, one day, toilets will save lives...

Have you been lucky enough to try one of these technological splendours for yourself? If not, have a browse of our collection of Japanese tours.

Article published on: 28th September, 2014



Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.

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