Posts Tagged ‘toilet’

Toilet with a view opens in Chiba

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

According to various media outlets, the “world’s largest public toilet” opened outside of Tokyo on April 6. Designed by architect Sou Fujimoto, the single-seater toilet, with its views of plum, peach and sakura trees, allows visitors to enjoy some beautiful scenery in Chiba’s Ichihara City while literally answering nature’s call. A glass toilet cubicle, protected by a 2-meter-high wall, is set in the middle of a 200-sq.-meter garden of potted rape blossom plants. The greenery may look a little thin now, but a bed of clover is in the works.

Room with a view

If you want to get technical, it would appear that the enormous Egyptian-themed public toilet in Chongquing, China, which has 1,000 toilets over 32,290 sq. meters, takes the prize for the largest, if it is indeed still in operation. At the least, Chiba’s toilet might qualify as the biggest individual public toilet cubicle. Naturally, the word “why?” springs to mind.   “The area around the station has an incredible natural beauty,” said architect Fujimoto in an interview with NHK. “We wanted for those who used the toilet to enjoy this scenery and that feeling of release.”

Before you set off for the wilds of Chiba, it should be pointed out that this toilet is, rather unfairly, for women only. Men, however, might console themselves with a particular toilet technology developed exclusively for them. Last October, Sega’s Toylets, a digital toilet game, began appearing in the men’s rooms of pachinko parlors, game centers and chain izakayas across the country (it had previously been available only for short trial runs). A pressure sensor in the urinal measures the strength of the pee stream, and this in turn affects the outcome of the mini game displayed on the console above. Men who fancy having a go at one of Sega’s Toylets can consult the Toylet website, which has links to the shops and restaurants where the devices have been installed.

Toilet humor to celebrate 30th anniversary of Toto’s washlet

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

“Constipation is reading two comic books cover to cover.”

This summer children up and down Japan will be trying to master the art of crafting similarly scatological phrasing as Toto’s 6th Toilet Senryu (poem) Competition gets underway. Winners of the competition not only receive a high tech toilet seat, they also get their poetry printed on limited edition bog roll thus reaching a wide audience of captive readers.

The quote above was one of last year’s winners and exemplifies the noble art of the senryu. Senryu, with its traditional 7, 5, 7 meter is similar in structure to haiku, but lighter in style than its more serious cousin, often containing bawdy humor rather than deep observations on nature. The meter rules of Japanese poems are a little different from Western ones: The ‘on’ units don’t equate exactly to a syllable. For example, this is how the poem quoted earlier breaks up into units:

be.n.pi.de.su (constipation is), 5 on

ma.n.ga.ga.ni.sa.tsu (two manga), 7 on

yo.mi.o.wa.ru (finish reading), 5 on”

Word play in senryu is also common. Take this winning entry from a previous year, which has fun with different meanings of the word kami (紙, paper or 神, god): “I just made it/Buddha is here/but kami is not.”

This year’s competition is very special for Toto as they mark the 30th anniversary of their hugely popular washlet. Visitors to their online gallery can see how far the washlet has come over the years by sliding the cursor over the timeline. These days, toilets in Japan have moved beyond heated seats and bidet sprays to offer a dazzling array of functions, such as automatic sensors that lift the seat as you enter a room and music to mask the sound of those embarrassing toilet-time noises.

The next generation of Toto’s washlets will even be able to talk to you. If you’re interested in experiencing the latest in washlet technology, you can actually operate a prototype of the Neo Test Type-02 toilet, which is installed in the Museum of Science and industry in Chiba, remotely from your computer and see the results over a live feed. The Type-02 can tell your “fartune,” read you the news, weather or stock reports and flatter you if you press the “brown nose button.” For more talking toilets, see  Toto’s website and listen as the toilet reads out last year’s winning entries.

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