High-tech toilets targeted to reel in tourists ahead of Olympics


Staff Writer

Japan’s high-tech toilets are nothing new but their growing popularity has prompted the government to use them as a tool to promote tourism and sell the technology abroad.

A panel set up under Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of women’s empowerment, submitted a report Monday recommending the government use toilets to boost tourism in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Japan’s toilet technology should serve as a perfect tool to spread our culture of omotenashi (hospitality),” the panel said in the report.

Japanese toilets, famous for their heated seats and bidet jets, are synonymous with cutting-edge technology. In fact, they are so popular overseas that Chinese tourists flocked to appliance stores in Tokyo during the Chinese New Year holiday in February to purchase them.

For its “Japan Toilet Challenge” initiative, the panel proposed that the government award efforts by facility operators, companies and municipalities across the country to keep their toilets comfortable, clean and safe.

It also suggested revising the often poor English-language instructions in public lavatories so tourists can better understand how to use them.

Toilets are even key to achieving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-hyped drive to create a society where “all women can shine,” the panel said, going as far as to characterize their renovation as a symbol of female livability.

“Toilets greatly affect the quality of life for women,” its proposal read, noting more efforts should be taken to shorten the time women wait to use the bathroom.

One of the latest innovations is an app that allows people to use smartphones to control their toilets.

Developed by housing fixtures maker Lixil Corp., the app allows smartphones to flush toilets and adjust the water pressure for the bidet without using the toilet’s control panel.

To showcase its latest toilet technology, toilet maker Toto set up Gallery TOTO at Narita International Airport in April. The facility is designed to lure people into trying out its state-of-the-art lavatories.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “Please come to Japan. Our Olympics may not be as promised, but you can poop in style.”

    On a personal note: Who needs to use their portable telephone to flush a toilet?

  • GBR48

    The high pressure bidet jet feature would make that a popular app to hack.

    ‘Toilets greatly affect the quality of life for women’. Indeed. What oft was Thought, but ne’er so well Exprest.

    I love the idea that (most likely male) engineers are sitting around a table in Japan earnestly brainstorming ways to reduce the amount of time women spend in the toilet.

    It would be lovely if more of Japan’s epic bogs were exported, and further than the People’s Republic, as they are very difficult to obtain in the West. We have cold winters here, and delicate bottoms.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    Eikaiwa Scene : Student: “Why did you come to Japan?”
    Teacher: Why to use your FABulous toilets of course!”
    Student: “Yappari ne,”

  • Frank Hansen

    There is not a single washlet in the toilet adjacent to the Tohoku Shinkansen entrance at Tokyo Station. Nor is there hot water or soap to wash your hands. There is no way to dry your hands neither. What about starting the efforts now and here?