[VIDEO] How Japan’s Toilet Obsession Produced Some of the World’s Best Bathrooms

The Toto toilet company recently opened a $60 million museum for toilets in Kitakyushu. Everything from giant sumo wrestler toilets to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s humble washroom to high-tech electric thrones are on display. (Anna Fifield and Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Toto, the beloved Japanese toilet maker, has opened a $60 million museum to celebrate its 100th anniversary. And it’s a hit.

KITA-KYUSHU, JAPAN — Anna Fifield reports: If there’s one thing Japan is passionate about, it’s toilets. Potties, loos, restrooms, john, powder room, however you say it, Japan has put a lot of thought into the smallest room of the house.

Japan loves its toilets so much they opened a museum for them

Japan is famous for its high-tech, derriere-washing, tushie-warming toilets. These are now such a valued part of Japanese culture that Toto, the beloved Japanese brand, has just built a $60 million museum devoted to its renowned product, at its home base in Kita-Kyushu, on the southern-most of Japan’s four main islands.

Toto even makes extra-wide, extra load-bearing toilets for sumo wrestling stadiums.

In Japan, there’s an app to help women find restrooms with space to fix their make-up.

Here are four things you might not know about Japan’s obsession with lavatories.

Theres an app for that

Dont take your chances going to a restroom without a little seat in the stall for your baby, or a fold-down platform for standing on while you get changed so you don’t have to put your feet on the bathroom floor.

There are a bunch of apps in Japan that can help you find the nearest public bathroom, or one with a special facility, like large stalls with facilities for people with ostomates (a relatively common issue in rapidly aging Japan).

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

Lion, a manufacturer of diarrhea medicine Stoppa (and various toiletries and detergents), provides an app @Toilet for people who need to take care of their business urgently away from the home or office. Click on the “emergency” button and it locates the closest restroom.

NPO Check operates a free app called Check a Toilet, listing over 53,000 restrooms in major cities. It shows restrooms nearby with information including whether they’re wheelchair accessible and/or have ostomate-friendly functions. Users can contribute by submitting information on the restrooms they’ve visited.

The Asahi Shimbun carried a story in August about a toilet opening ceremony in Aichi prefecture that involves drinking tea and eating rice cakes on the loo.

And for those ladies who, we now know, need clean bathrooms if they’re ever to leave the house, the well-known map publishing company Zenrin offers an app for women called Koisuru Map — A Map in Love — with information about nail salons, cafes and clean restrooms. This app includes information such as whether there’s a powder space for fixing your makeup, electrical outlets and diaper changing facilities. Zenrin’s (female) staff visits and reviews each bathroom before adding it to their list.

Theres a god of the toilet. Really.

You know how Japan’s washrooms got to be so clean and full of advanced technology? Maybe because they’re being watched over by a toilet god.

Here’s a video about a shrine to the toilet god in Tokyo.

According to the myth, Kawaya-no-kami, the Japanese toilet god, was, appropriately enough, born from the excrement of Izanami, the Japanese goddess of the Earth and darkness. Read the rest of this entry »


Garry Kasparov: The Global War on Modernity

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Islamists set the time machine to the Dark Ages. Putin dreams of czarist Russia. A common enemy: Americakasparov-tall

Garry Kasparov writes: The recent terror attacks in Paris at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher supermarket, leaving 17 people dead, represented the latest offensive in a struggle that most people, even many of its casualties, are unaware is even taking place.

“The guaranteed freedoms represented by the First Amendment frighten the radical mullahs and dictators more than any drone strike or economic sanction.”

Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these “time travelers” to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.

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“Many politicians and pundits in the Free World seem to think that refusing to acknowledge you are in a fight means you can avoid losing it. But ignoring the reality of the conflict puts more innocents like the Paris victims—instead of trained soldiers and law enforcement—on the front lines.”

Radical Islamists, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Boko Haram and Islamic State, set the time machine to the Dark Ages and encourage the murder of all who oppose them, often supported by fatwas and funds from terror sponsors like Iran. The religious monarchies in the Middle East are guilty by association, creating favorable conditions for extremism by clamping down on any stirring of freedom.

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 “There are no easy ways to deter homegrown terrorists or nuclear-armed dictators, but this culture of denial must end before true progress can be made.”

Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin’s closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.

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Since the time travelers cannot fight head-to-head with the ideas and prosperity of the Free World, they fall back on their arsenal of ideology, violence and disregard for human life.”

In the East, Kim Jong Un ’s North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights. Read the rest of this entry »