They have remote controls. They play music. In Japan, even the toilets are cool.
One of the best places to see the best of Japanese toilets old and new is at the Inax Live Museum in Tokoname, outside Nagoya. There, visitors can see a number of artsy toilets on display such as this sleek throne in black and gold.
Inax's luxury Regio toilet has an automatic lid, an illuminated bowl, and its own soundtrack composed by jazz pianist Yoshiko Kishino. It also releases germ-killing ions. The cheapest Regio has a suggested retail price of 462,000 yen ($5,500).
This Inax Regio toilet has a traditional blue and white floral motif that evokes early porcelain toilets. It was shown off at the 2010 Expo in Shanghai along with a gold-plated version priced at $20,000 and up.
Japan still has plenty of old-school squat toilets, but few are as beautiful as this seaworthy example from the late Meji period (1868-1912). Hokusai, who created the famous "Great Wave off Kanagawa" woodblock print, might have loved it.
This quirky commode at the Inax Live Museum is perfect for kids. It was inspired by designer Paul Frank's lovable character Julius the Monkey. The toilet itself is an Inax Satis, with fully automatic lid action, flushing, and deodorizer. It uses 4 or 5 liters (1.05 to 1.32 gallons) of water per flush.
At the Toto showroom in Tokyo's Shinjuku, a row of toilets with spigots on their tanks is on display. A common water-conservation feature, the spigots are used for hand-washing, and the water is reused in flushing.
Toto's high-end Neorest Hybrid tankless toilets have three flush buttons including a water-saving 3.8 liter (1 gallon) flush. It has many high-tech features such as the company's famous Washlet bum cleanser and bidet, Cyclone flushing system, automatic flush and deodorizer, Kenwood sound system, and even a programmable nightlight. Models start around $2,800 MSRP.
The control panel for Toto's Neorest has an LCD screen showing the time and various toilet settings. The four corner buttons control bum sprays and bidet functions. It also incorporates a Kenwood sound system, with two speakers, preinstalled music with seasonal themes, playback buttons, and an SD card slot for your own music.