Toilet for dummies
What’s warm, gentle, talking, caring, cleaning and drying you up? A hairdresser? No, a Japanese high tech toilet!
If you’ve ever lived in, or visited, Japan, one of the things you’ll surely miss when coming home is the warm toilet seat that comforts you when you’ve woken up in the middle of the night and reluctantly dragged yourself to the bathroom. On the other hand, your good ol’ loo might not scare the crap out of you (before you’ve had a chance to take your pants off!) by opening up the lid automatically when entering the room. That’s pretty scary when you’re half asleep during your nightly visit. But we can live with that, the Japanese toilets are extremely service minded after all.
However, our founder Sofia did not make immediate friends with these little creatures during her first encounter on Japanese ground. Before Oceanites travel to Japan she tells us to watch out for the meaning of the toilet buttons and not go all in, the wrong way.
“I visited Japan for the first time in 1999. I travelled with my classmates from the Royal Institute of Technology and we had lined up a number of interesting and important study visits. As students we wanted to make a good first impression, dressed up, hair combed and with prepared questions for our hosts. Among others we visited Ericsson Rn’D in Yokosuka and the highlight included to get the new 3G network demoed to us. After the demo we got the technical facts in a classy conference room, but in the middle of this lecture I felt I really had to go to the bathroom. Tokyo in June can be quite warm and I had just discovered my favourite drink Calpis, available in vending machines exactly everywhere and had probably had a little too much of the good stuff. I excused myself from the room and headed for the bathroom. Being a woman in need I did not register too much around the toilet but focused on getting all that Calpis out. After mission accomplished I pulled pants up, skirt down and looked for the flushing button. Hmm, not to be found where I expected it to be, on the other hand I discovered a cluster of buttons with images showing water spraying in the toilet. I thought the flushing might differ for number one and number two, and chose the button with what seemed to be the least amount of water. And it turned out I was right, the buttons did have different meaning depending on weather you had been dealing with number one or number two, however, they had nothing to do with flushing the toilet. No, as the water came spraying out of the toilet and ON TO ME, I realised the images pictured water cleaning the user, from different angels. I did an action hero move and threw myself out of the toilet in panic but of course it was too late. I was all wet, and I had no idea from what, the water came from down under… Although in disgusted chock, I felt I had to accomplish my mission, can’t leave the toilet in a mess, and figured I had to try all buttons until I found the flusher. I did this hidden behind the toilet door, the first attempt was still spraying onto the door, and for once, long arms was a really nifty thing. I learned that the other buttons lead to spraying your behind from other angles, drying it up and then a dust of perfume to your possible liking. But still no flushing! Eventually I found it behind the toilet and went back to the conference room, looking like a drenched cat. And I had only one message for my classmates; “Don’t ask””
For a foreigner unfamiliar with the advanced habits of Japanese toilets, the user interface can be slightly tricky to interpret when you do not know Japanese. But that’s the issue with a lot of interfaces, you have to play around with them in order to figure them out. But please remember, sit down when playing with the toilet interface.