Japanese Way of Life … My First Experience


My first visit to Japan (over a decade back) had me scared … Going to the most expensive and technically advanced city in the world – Tokyo, was a dream come true. A shuttle to the city – expensive like hell, was in indication of atleast what it would cost me.

Reaching the hotel – you deal with the most polite & warm people in the world by far – with smiling ladies bowing and wishing / thanking you (for everything under the sun it seems). You feel special and welcomes – unlike in the West. Then you check into probably the smallest & most expensive hotel rooms in the world you will ever live in (well, aside of Paris & London I guess) and you are now living the Japanese life.

Then I came across one of the most innovative and absurd technological marvels of the modern world – the JAPANESE TOILET SEATS!! Nowhere in the world is there such a fascination for toilet seats that comes even close to what is seen here. A billion $ industry, believe me that this can scare a technologically challenged person into constipations for days.

The 8th 'Man-made' Wonder of the World

The 8th ‘Man-made’ Wonder of the World

For a first timer – it’s weird … a seat with a large electronic console right next to it. With a range of buttons & knobs… and symbols which makes you worry what will happen if you press a wrong button. Will you get just a spanking … or worse a launcher shoots you into space!! Anything is possible – especially if you end up on one with only Japanese instructions.

The seats are usually heated … nice & warm, so that you don’t have to sit on a freezing seat in the winters. Then I saw the buttons … with words like Bidet, Faucet, Showers (!!!) and other options written with nice visuals next to it. I had no clues what to expect. I carefully press one button , standing as far away as possible. Nothing happens … why should it, you are not sitting – so the pressure sensors shut off all the controls. I could not use this without knowing what was to happen could I … especially being a physics graduate!!

I then press the seat hard and then press the button marked bidet. Abracadabra … a small dispensing pipe glides out from the back, self-cleans (of course – you wouldn’t expect anything less right), then a jet of water shoots out straight to the floor like in a fountain!! Well, did I say you can adjust the intensity … yes, you can. At high intensity, it’s an experience that I would not like to describe but leave for you to discover.

Then I pressed ‘Faucet’ and the same thing – only water spouts in a different manner. Some of the other buttons did nothing, or so I thought, so I ended my inquisitiveness there thankfully for the evening. The fascination though remained for years.
Toto which makes most of these seats started off about a century back apparently … and the more expensive ones come with sensors for noting your blood sugar levels, BP etc.; others come with deodorization, Ozone-ization (!!!), blow dryers, music players etc. going well into the kinky domain.

I am so proud (seriously) that we have one nation here that does not shy away from offering such delights in personal care whereas in India – 5* hotels planners would rather commit suicide than put a basic health faucet in the toilets instead of only toilet papers. Well, that’s another story …