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Japan makes it easier to use its high-tech toilets

Commentary: Some foreigners have been confused by signage on Japan's loos, which do far more than flush. So its sanitation industry comes up with standardized icons.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Please tell me you understand all these.

Japanese Restroom Industry Association

Pressing the wrong button on a piece of technology is a rite of passage.

Pressing the wrong button and having streams of water pour hell-for-leather toward your nether regions is, sadly, a rite of passage in some of Japan's most high-tech restrooms.

It's not been easy for foreigners to decide which button does what in toilets that go far beyond the standard flush.

The nation's sanitation industry has, therefore, pulled together to get foreigners out of the mess they've been creating.

The Japanese Restroom Industry Association has just emitted a press release in which it announced a standardization of the often complex and contradictory signs that have adorned its toilets.

The toilets we're talking about aren't the usual basic things. They're known as "washlets" and they're full of exciting options. Sadly, some of those options made foreign users appear overly excited when they emerged. The signs, you see, didn't seem to make obvious sense.

Should you have never enjoyed a washlet, here are just some of the high-tech options they offer: lift the seat, put it down, long flush, short flush, heated seats, front and rear bidet and, naturally, hot-air drying.

Japan is deeply motivated to please foreigners because it will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020.

It's bad enough hosting foreigners who have no idea how to hold chopsticks and ask for french fries with their teriyaki. The standardized icons might keep them from also coming back from the restroom looking like they've had an accident with a very large bottle of soy sauce.

As the press release puts it, Japan is keen on "communicating the 'clean toilet culture' to people all over the world."

I'm sure you know of several restrooms that could use Japan's clean toilet culture. Several people, too.

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