Tokyo Offers Some Opportunities for California

One of the aspects of Japan that feels particularly alien is the toilets, which appear to have recently seen duty on the U.S.S. Enterprise.

On the first model closely encountered, along the right edge is a six-button control console.

Beginning nearest to the wall, a button allows the seat to be heated. Next, a “stand-by” button lights as water gurgles into the bowl in preparation.

Then comes a series of small horizontal hash marks which light to show if the level of water pressure has been raised or reduced.

This becomes important with the next two functions. On a button labeled “Bidet,” is a silhouette of a woman in profile atop an inverted pyramid of black dots.

The next button shows a horizontal Numeral 3 atop a curved-edge “Y” of dots.

The last button on the console is the second most important control – STOP. The spray does not cease without pilot intervention.

Most importantly — and a source of mystery for the better part of a day — is the flush mechanism which turns out to be a button beneath a silver, tongue-shaped handle mounted on the side of the counter next to the toilet.

Firing photon torpedoes now, captain.

This first encounter with the toilet of tomorrow proves to be the equivalent of driving a Yugo and thinking its a Rolls Royce.

In the upgraded room at the Sheraton received on the second day, the control panel is handheld. It also offers a drying function and a massage. Massage being a pulsing of the water stream.

And Katie informs that the family who hosted her here owns a toilet that warbles soothing music and, as a family member approaches, beckons by raising its lid.

Like the designer facemasks: An opportunity beckons.

In light of Governor Schwarzenegger’s championing of new green technology perhaps California would do well to support new yellow and brown technologies.

The marketing possibilities of promoting such a multi-faceted device might be enough to kick start the state’s service industry. It seems a short-sell to call the device at the Sheraton a “Washlet,” as Toto, its manufacturer, does. Assign some California ad executives to the task and sales would skyrocket.

How about “Water Master,” just as a brain-storming starting point? Far more authoritative. Who wouldn’t pay more for a “Water Master” than a wimpy ol’ “Washlet”?

California could certainly use some manufacturing jobs. How about building our own souped-version of Washlet?

Expanded use of the multi-faceted devices might also lead to some new causes of legal action, a boon to trial lawyers.

Not to sound jingoistic, but think of the design improvements and additional functions that could be added if the genius of Silicon Valley was brought to bear? Two words: Intel chip. 

California’s economic recovery—beginning from the bottom up.


Filed under: Trip to Tokyo


  1. Sounds like a satisfying use for the stimulus package funds….

    Comment by skiboy — 6.09.2009 @ 6:00 am

  2. I’m watching conference committee, waiting for this issue to be brought up…..maybe when they need to take a brief break!

    Comment by Linda Muir — 6.09.2009 @ 10:04 am

  3. Sacramento has one of those magical toilets – in the ladies room at Zen Sushi at 15th & I. Not sure about the men’s room, though.

    Comment by Lurking reader — 6.09.2009 @ 12:25 pm

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    Comment by Gisela — 2.16.2010 @ 10:20 pm

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