Japan's smart, gorgeous toilets (photos)
Inax Live Museum
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 control panel for Inax's Regio toilet has about 30 buttons to control functions such as seat temperature and water pressure.
This elegant porcelain urinal on display in the Inax Live Museum is about 100 years old. Made in Seto outside Nagoya, it has blue and white sometsuke-style paintings of birds and flowers.
Toilet from Meji period
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.
Urinals for men and women
These colorful urinals at the Inax Live Museum date from the early 20th century, and apparently were used by both men and women.
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.
This cafe commode on the southern island of Yoron-to, in Kagoshima-ken, brings tropical flora and fauna to the restroom experience.
Spigots on display
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.
Neorest control panel
Another slick control panel for the Toto Neorest toilet series. Pink and green toilet paper not included.
Toto's Neorest Hybrid is only 17 by 26 inches, compact enough to fit into cramped spaces.
It may look like a traditional tea house, but this quaint structure in the mountain town of Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture, is actually a public toilet.