Posts Tagged ‘Toto’

So as I wrote previously, Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo had to place a little message card on the bathroom vanity, “Don’t Be Afraid of Our Toilet” to explain to the hotel guests about the sophisticated toilet system.

Lately I’ve spotted the TOTO Washlet or similar product in American homes as well, though it still seems to be a rather exclusive amenity unlike its popularity in Japan.  Besides, I have yet to acquire one myself for my home in Los Angeles.

Then on my last trip to Japan, I noticed something else in public bathrooms:  yet another TOTO bathroom “gadget” or perhaps I should call, an “amenity.”  It’s the “Otohime (音姫),”.the literal translation of which would be, “sound princess.”   I had seen it probably more than a decade ago in bathrooms of some private offices and such.  It is a simple device to create camouflaging noise to cover any natural “sound” that comes with your personal activity in the stall.   The premise, I guess, is that people would flush the toilet unnecessarily to cover the  “sound;”   therefore waste the precious water.  (Either that or rattling the toilet paper roll.) Of course, leave it to Japanese.  They’ll have a solution!

Push the button on Otohime, and it would make some sound as if you’re actually flushing the toilet.  I always thought it was brilliant, but I had not seen it around like the Washlets.  Then on my last visit, I noticed in public places such as department stores and restaurants that their bathrooms were equipped with Otohime.    May be I was just missing it, but I didn’t know it was getting to be a normal fixture in the bathrooms.

I’m sure it’s a lot simpler to install than the Washlet, and I’m sure I can probably get one to use in my own bathroom before I can get the much-coveted Washlet.  Perhaps I can start creating my own private Japan in my bathrooms at home!


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On Kenny’s first trip to Japan, I took him to meet a couple of good friends of mine. Upon arrival at their home, I pulled him into the powder room right in the foyer area (before my friends came out to greet us, mind you), pulled his pants down, sat him down on the toilet, and started pushing buttons. This was no ordinary toilet; it was the TOTO Washlet, equipped with a seat warmer and a high-tech mechanism to clean your behind after your business in the bathroom.

This was in 2000, and by then, Washlet and similar products were fairly well established in Japan; most of the modern homes and public establishments seemed to have it. But it was certainly a new thing for Kenny! The way it gives you control of the water temperature, the angle at which the water hits your behind, and even the dryer are all quite delightful, and I’m coveting one for my home in California. They have been sort of available through the local Japanese communities, but now TOTO has a beautiful showroom in West Hollywood with full services! http://www.washlet.com/

So, last year, I had an opportunity to go to Japan with a prominent sports agent on quite a lavish business trip. We were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo — not to mention being on the same floor as Bono, who was there for the African Conference. In my room I noticed a dainty little card on the bathroom vanity saying, “Don’t be afraid of our toilet.”

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