Japan's rich culture is an oddball assortment of things from both the past and the future. Whatever the passionate Japanese produces is definitely way beyond our wildest imagination. Their zeal for the Washlet – a high-tech, tushie-warming toilet-is proof enough for that.
In the southernmost part of one of Japan's main islands stands a $60 million toilet museum solely dedicated to the Washlet. Toto, the maker of this derriere-washing toilet, decided to open the museum to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary in 2017. For three months since opening day, the toilet museum has already welcomed more than 30,000 visitors inside its walls.
The Toto Museum has thousands of items on display, all records of the evolution of the Japanese toilet: from the ceramic squatters of the 1900s to Toto's Washlet. The museum is a center for Japan's commitment to good personal hygiene and good hospitality, as well as the country's technological expertise.
Toto has also displayed multiple generations of the Washlet, from the first 1980 rudimentary model, which had cords and dials to the Neorest, one of the best quality Washlets ever made.
Aside from that, there are extra-wide, extra load-bearing Washlets designed for sumo wrestling stadiums, Japanese parliament restrooms, and a module bathroom from a Tokyo hotel. The bathroom suite used by General Douglas MacArthur is also on display.
What makes the Washlet work best is its bidet that is built into the seat. The bidet sprays every little nook and cranny. The Washlet is a standard hygiene tech in every Japanese home, public building, restaurant, subway station, and government offices.
The newest Washlet models even have seat warmers. The user can control water pressure and temperature. Some models have a warm air dryer and a water massage function.
There is also a function called "power deodorizer." When you use the flush, the Washlet will produce music or "otohime," meaning the "sound of a princess."
Other Washlets have automatic sensors. When a person approaches the toilet, it automatically lifts its cover and spray antibacterial liquid onto the bowl.
It's interesting to note that the Washlet is also popular in the Middle East and South Asia. However, it seems as if it has not taken off yet in the West.
One of the visitors of the museum commented that although the Washlet is well-loved in Japan, the high-tech toilet does not even exist in Canada.
"I think that [Western] people are missing out on such an innovative product, such a cool gadget. And I wanted to impress my husband, so we decided to come here," said Mami Yoshida, who lived with her husband for ten years in Montreal. Yoshida visited the museum during a recent trip.
Toto is currently promoting the Washlet in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and New York, but the price for comfort definitely does not come cheap. The most basic Washlet costs about $599, while the high-quality Neorest costs $6,500.