No one says, "I'm going overseas for the sweet restrooms!," but bathrooms in Japan have fascinated visitors with their luxurious comforts and high-end technologies for a while now. You're probably familiar with Japanese restroom features like the toilets that have a million buttons and boast the infamous "posterior wash"; however, you might not know that the originals were homegrown in the US and Switzerland.
Back in the '60s, the Wash Air Seat was designed for use in medical facilities. It wasn't until 1964 that it was imported to Japan, and it took another three years before a true Japanese super toilet was created. Initially, locals didn't embrace the luxury toilets with open arms because for some reason, toilets have an "unclean" image. But everything changed in a 1982 commercial featuring pop star Jun Togawa. When she read a letter from her butt that said, "Even bottoms have feelings," the hearts (and rear ends) of the Japanese people melted. These days, it's estimated that about 76% of Japanese homes have at least one high-tech toilet.
This isn't to say that Japanese bathroom perks are all about the potty. Restrooms in the Land of the Rising Sun can give medical advice, play relaxing tunes, and help you clean your dirty laundry. Sounds too good to be true? Read on to get to the bottom of this!
Some of the coolest Japanese bathroom features aren't in the bathroom. Actually, it's not rare for the bathtub control panel to be in the kitchen. So, while you're getting your grub on, you can program the bath to fill up automatically.
Just like a bowl of soup, you'd expect the bath water to go lukewarm before you get a chance to savor it. But, because the control panel keeps the water at a consistent temperature, your bath will be in peak condition by the time you're ready for it.
In the US, toilets made after 1994 use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush, but some older models can drain as much as 7 gallons a pop!
A major benefit of restrooms in Japan is that you have the option to be more eco-friendly with the push of a button. If all that needs to be cleared is some liquid gold, hit the button for the small, economic flush. For all other clean-up, press the option that looks like a person with outstretched arms saying, “This is gonna be huge!”
Aside from the flush volume, some units conserve water by providing a tiny sink above the toilet tank; after you flush, water starts flowing from the faucet. Don't worry, it's perfectly safe to wash your hands. Japanese people love recycling, but even they have their limits on greenness.
From the purse shelf to the makeup rooms, Japanese restrooms are incredibly female friendly. However, those features are just cosmetic compared to the biggest benefits. Due to their special mechanics, ladies come into contact with toilet seats more often than men, which can be terrifying if there aren't enough squares to cover the bases. But in Japan, you can count on a toilet seat sanitizer being available basically all of the time.
Cleanliness doesn't stop there, though. Some bathrooms have what they call a “changing board." Instead of dirtying your socks on the floor, you can stand on this support while you switch outfits in COMPLETE privacy. Unlike in the US, the walls of stalls extend fully to the ground; there's no gap where people can judge you by your footwear or lack thereof.
Last but not least, mother's with small children can rejoice. There are often little toilets for the girls, and even a urinal for boys.
Remember as a kid how you wanted to be a prince or a princess? This Japanese bathroom feature has nothing to do with that. Nicknamed the "otohime" ("sound princess"), this function covers up bodily noises with more pleasant sounds... like that of a flushing toilet. Well, that's how it used to be, anyway. Nowadays, everything from classical music to ambient white noise can be heard. All it takes to activate these kicking tunes is the push of a button or a rear end on a toilet seat.