Japan is trying an unconventional way to impress visitors to their country with both their technology and their gracious hospitality — a toilet “gallery” where it’s just fine to touch, and sample, the exhibits.
Toto, Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer, plans to soon open a high-tech bathroom “gallery” in the departures section of Tokyo’s Narita international airport.
“Gallery Toto” will feature four stalls each for men and women, so departing visitors can try out the company’s famous Washlet models, complete with all the features that come in an upscale Japanese toilet — bidet, seat-warmer, sterilizing and deodorizing functions, and electronic flushing.
The gallery, with its futuristic illuminated walls, features murals of Mount Fuji and other iconic landscapes of Japan.
Toto says the display will provide an opportunity for travelers to experience “Japanese toilet culture” and technologies, hoping that it will also help boost international sales.
And Japanese toilet culture is something to behold.
Almost every train and subway station in Japan, and many of its parks, boasts a spotless public restroom. It’s not uncommon to find a public restroom where the toilets feature all these impressive technologies, plus additional conveniences like a special seat for your baby while you do your business (which doubles perfectly as a bag-holder) and a flip-down board that you can stand on while you get changed so you don’t dirty your socks on the bathroom floor.
Nor is it unusual to find little toilets and wash basins for children, or hooks to hang your umbrella on while you wash your hands. Accessible stalls with plenty of handrails are standard in this rapidly aging society.
And that’s just in public places. Many Japanese homes have similarly fancy toilets, which allow users to adjust the temperature of the seat and the water pressure and temperature from the bidet.
What must Japanese think when they travel abroad?
While the Toto gallery will be available for viewing and use from next Friday, potential customers won’t be able to buy products on the spot. Instead, Toto officials hope foreign visitors, flushed from the experience, will buy its toilets after they get home.