Top of my Christmas list this year is a TOTO Washlet. No, it’s not a flannel for Dorothy’s little dog but a high-tech Japanese toilet.
The all-singing, all-dancing lavatories we discovered in Japan were incredible, taking daily ablutions to another level. It’s a wonder we managed to leave the hotel every day, such was the array of services available to pamper the Burgess bottom. It’s slightly worrying to know that the toilet is hooked up to the electricity supply. It’s even more disconcerting to sit down, unexpectedly, on a warm seat. Some were so hot they could generate a rosy glow on your cheeks.
We were grateful to discover that most toilets had diagrams to indicate what each botty-button would do. In some public loos, however, there were so many Japanese characters to choose from, it was like pressing shuffle mode: you never knew what delights were in store.
The deodoriser: often this is activated as soon as you sit down, regardless of your intentions.
The washer: warm water is dispensed upwards. Extra buttons can adjust the position of the spray and the pressure. Just like a Kärcher on your patio.
The dryer: not always available, you’ve won the lavvy lottery if you find this button.
The music: for any shy performers, you can mask any noises with the sound of flushing water or a jolly tune. I waited for the Trumpet Voluntary or the 1812 Overture with its cannon finale, but they weren’t on the playlist.
There are so many options to choose from, it can take time to complete your business. It was therefore very reassuring to find public WCs everywhere, especially in the cities. In the rugby stadiums we visited there were dozens around the whole perimeter, often with a courteous, if slightly authoritative volunteer, indicating the free cubicles. Dougie was chastised when he tried to go off-piste and choose his own. I loved the ladies’ loos here as there were so many cubicles, an in and out door, plus little urinals for mums bringing in their little boys.
For all this technological wizardry, I was surprised to discover that traditional Japanese squat toilets still exist, often side by side with ‘Western’ loos. Admittedly, they are spotlessly clean, but it still gave me a fright to open a door and see the gleaming porcelain flat on the floor. Pre-warned about the squat loos, I searched online for the best way to use them. After practising crouching in the living room at home, I learned that I don’t have the agility or muscles to squat properly. You can’t just hover: that’s a recipe for disaster.
To squat properly, and remain balanced, your feet need to be completely flat on the floor and your derriere needs to be very low down, in line with your ankles. The Japanese have done this since childhood so it’s a natural position. At my age, with my knees, it’s impossible.
Thank heavens, then, I always found a hi-tech toilet when I needed to spend a penny – or yen. Those visits became some of the highlights of the holiday.
So, Santa Baby, slip a TOTO under the tree for me. Been an awful good girl…