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Japan wants its high-tech toilets to conquer the world

Toto/Wikimedia Commons
No ifs or ands about it.
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The Japanese government has big plans for its high-tech toilet industry. Toilets from companies like industry leader Toto—which are so ubiquitous that they are used to track national prosperity—will get a multifaceted promotional boost starting this year, according to Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun.

The first step is a fully functional showroom at Tokyo’s Narita international airport, where visitors can “experience elements of Japanese culture that are difficult to explain in words,” according to Toto. In practical terms, that means a a motion-sensing toilet seat that lifts automatically, a stream of warm water sprayed at one’s undercarriage, and a gentle, warm breeze to dry everything off. The Narita exhibit space also features neon walls that show the silhouettes of dancing men and women, presumably celebrating how far toilet technology has advanced in recent years.

The hope is that tourists will become converts to high-tech, no-hands toilets. Chinese visitors have already made smart bidet seats like Toto’s Washlet a highly sought-after item. But as Toto international chief Hiromichi Tabata told the AFP, “Many celebrities say they love the Washlet when they visit Japan, but the fervor is temporary.”

Japan’s domestic toilet market is worth several hundred billion yen, but the market is expected to shrink since the majority of homes have already switched to smart toilets and the overall population is in decline. Toto already makes about one-fifth of its 544 billion yen ($4.5 billion) in annual sales from overseas.

The government is also planning to work with the International Electrotechnical Commission to establish a global quality certification for toilets with warm-water spray options, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

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