Negotiating Japanese Technology, or How to Use a Toilet in Japan

Negotiating Japanese Technology, or How to Use a Toilet in Japan

“Hey look at that! The taxi driver opened his door while he was driving down the street toward a passenger.” Matt, the 16-year old son of my traveling companions, Leanne and Tony Argyle, pointed out what turned out to be a neat bit of technology. In Japan, taxi drivers push a button to automatically open the rear door as they pull up to a passenger.

Vending machines are ubiquitous and not quite as difficult as learning how to use a toilet in Japan

Vending machines are ubiquitous and not quite as difficult as learning how to use a toilet in Japan

Automatic taxi doors were just the tip of the iceberg. There were vending machines that sold almost anything imaginable, even cigarettes! My young friend and his sister, Cailtin, wondered about the potential for minors to purchase smokes. A quick Google search put our minds at ease. A chipped, adult ID card is required to purchase cigarettes from vending machines. The Argyles spent one day at a Japanese auto plant and returned with tales of life-size dancing robots. Even the parking garages are high-tech. With space at a premium, the Japanese have built multi-story garages where cars pull in head first onto a rotating disc. The turntable rotates the car, whisks it up several floors, and moves it sideways into a parking space.
 

 
For me, however, the most astonishing technology was Japanese toilets. They warm the water, wash your derrière, perform a bidet wash, offer deodorizer at the push of a button, and even play music or flushing sounds to mask other more embarrassing sounds. When a toilet seat lid stood up automatically for me on one occasion, I just had to make a video called “How to use a toilet in Japan.” Alas, by the time I departed, I was so used to Japanese technology that not even the automatic opening taxi door surprised me. Seriously, why don’t we have more things like this in the USA?

17 Comments on “Negotiating Japanese Technology, or How to Use a Toilet in Japan

  1. LOL, I thought you were going to give advice on using the floor-level Japanese-style toilets. If you wander off the beaten path any distance, you might need to use one in an emergency! My advice is to hold onto the plumbing so you don’t fall in.

    • Hi Esther: Fortunately, squat toilets have become a common occurrence for me, given all the third world countries where I travel. I’ve gotten quite good at using them. But I can’t say the same for my first encounter with them, which was indeed in Japan 🙂

  2. I love the toilets in Japan – especially the seat warming function! And I was amazed at the cigarette machines also. Just had to take a photo of one to prove that they still had them!

    • It was a strange and wonderful world in Japan, Jill. Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Seriously, why don’t we have more things like this in the USA?
    Barbara,
    These have been here in USA for years, but only high end users can afford them.
    Toto has had the seat quite awhile.’I think the price is coming down and you will see these in the big box stores soon.

    • That would be amazing, Patti. Never knew they were available in the U.S. If I ever have a place of my own again, I’d want one!

  4. you see, Barbara, here vending machines for cigarettes are nothing unusual. you could find them even fixed to garden fences along the streets. Those are gone, now. But they are still in use. By putting in the right amount of coins you buy what you want. No ID needed.

    • The vending machines were pretty remarkable, Catherine. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. We have the same toilet seats here! I have one in my bathroom.

    • Wow! If I ever have a place in the States again, I want one too, Roxann.

  6. Can’t wait to give their toilets a try … in the coming years, I will finally make the trip over to Japan!

    • Good for you, Tim. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did.

  7. Oh, Barb! you made me chuckle! But if I ever get to Japan, I know I will be grateful for your tutorial!

    • LOL -thanks Vonnie. I have since learned that they have been available in the US for years, but that they are considered too expensive so are never used. Hugs and much love to you all.

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