The Japanese Toilet Seat Guide: A British Perspective
We ask why Japanese bidets are ubiquitous in Japan, but not worldwide.Japanese toilets have a reputation for being the most technologically-advanced toilets in the world. British visitors to Japan return home with anecdotes of their experience of the 'toilets of the future'. But why are Japanese toilets so much more advanced than UK toilets, and are they fundamentally 'better' than the standard, non-electric WC?
"...whereas [toilets] haven’t changed a jot here in the last decade, in Japan they have gone through several cycles of development, evolving as fast as mobile phones." - Alex James
Interestingly, one of the largest Japanese toilet brands was focused on importing American-made "wash air seats" during the 1960s. Japan has won this reputation through innovating on the original concept, and proliferating the product through Japan and other countries.
Brits Care About Toilet Paper - What About Bidets?
In the UK we're very keen on toilet roll, using almost 2.5 times the European average. In addition, we're also "fussy" about the toilet paper we use - not the brands themselves, though no doubt that does play a part, but the actual quality or experience of the toilet paper.
A 2015 study revealed that the attributes British people care about in toilet paper are:
- Softness (57%)
- Strength (45%)
- Thickness (36%)
There's an attribute that unites toilet paper users above all others - the environmental impact. 81% of the market "said they would consider buying recycled toilet tissue if it were comparable in quality to standard paper".
So we care about the environment, and we're particular about our toilet paper experience. Surely that means Japanese-style toilet bidets should be in every home in the UK?
It's not just the experience, or the environment, that influences how toilet paper affects our day-to-day lives. It represents a £1.12 billion market in the UK (2015). That works out at around £41 per household. Whilst £41 per year may seem like a sensible amount for many, considering this is something each of us will use our entire lives, there are huge savings to be had with an investment in a bidet, or bidet toilet seat.
What Are The Biggest Japanese Bidet Toilet Brands?
Two of the most well-known brands in Japan are Toto, manufacturers of 'Washlets' and INAX. 'Washlet' is a registered trademark of Toto Ltd, but has become the common name for bidet toilets, and Japanese or electronic toilets in general, within Japan (and around the world to some extent).
A good comparison is in vacuum cleaners - in the UK, 'Hoover' is still a common term for a vacuum cleaner even though it's a brand name - 'Washlet' takes a similar position in place of bidet toilet in Japan.
Smart Features...Plus Music
Most electronic bidet seats have some common features - nozzles that can clean your bottom, electronically operated via a panel attached to the toilet, or with a remote control. Heated seats, and warm-air drying, as well as deodorising, are often standard. Some Japanese bidets also include audio - music will play to help the user relax or act as a masking sound to spare blushes.
Japanese-style toilets appear in popular culture from time-to-time due - they've been featured in episodes of The Simpsons (episode 226, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo", first aired May 16, 1999) and Futurama (episode 91, "Attack of the Killer App", first aired 1 July, 2010). In both series they were referred to as a "Japanese Toilet".
The luxury experience comes with some of the simpler features - soft-closing seats that don't slam shut, sensory detection that knows when someone is near (and raises either the lid, or the lid and seat depending on which way they face).
Of course, these bidet toilets don't just take care of their users, they take care of themselves too. "Self-cleaning" and intelligent power-saving mean that the bidet is efficient and very low-maintenance.
Where Can You Buy Japanese Toilet Bidets In The UK?
Hygieya's flagship product, the Hygieya Classic Deluxe, is a 'Japanese-style' bidet toilet seat including many of the super features mentioned above. Our modern luxury bidet seat offers the best in smart toilet technology for British bathrooms.
Article sources include:
Image via Jeremy Thompson (Nara) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%E4%B8%8D%E5%8B%95%E5%A0%82_2011_(5899175683).jpg via Wikimedia Commons