Meeting Mr Toto …

The hotel room had a western style bed, a carpeted floor, a couple of chairs, a desk and a TV.

On the bed was a cotton night shirt that buttoned down the front, a minor difference in an environment that otherwise could have been in almost any city in the world.

The room was too warm. I turned off the heating. Finding a way to deal with the welcoming warmth would be necessary at every accommodation for the coming weeks.

And then I went to the toilet …


“Shit”, I thought, which was at least contextually appropriate. The user’s manual is under the lid, once enthroned it can’t be read, but then, you only need to read it once. The controls will be at your right hand. What could possibly go wrong?

The seat is heated, you may wash your bottom … with warm water.  Air dry, why not? As you sit a flow of water beneath you will reassure you that the porcelain will not be soiled or is it just to make a noise to cover the sounds that you are so keen to keep to yourself?

Do play with the buttons. The only one you need to know about is marked with a circle with a central dot. That stops whatever you manage to start.

Every hotel I stayed at had this style of toilet, the better ones had the control panel on the wall. Public toilets came in two flavours, a few had squat toilets, most were like this one. None was merely ordinary, it seems the Japanese completely leapfrogged the Australian dunny.

Japan is different. It has a that quality that the French think they have. I hope I can convey that quality in my writing. It exercises a strange influence on visitors, some are never quite the same …

But in his home and office bathrooms, Mr. Friedman had installed a Toto washlet. To sit upon a standard commode, he said, would be like “going back to the Stone Age.

Ms. Poh said. “It’s about the heated seats. Your life is really good when you have a heated toilet seat.”

Three days later, Mr. Aboulache went online and bought a Toto washlet, which he installed in the shared upstairs bathroom of his home in Los Angeles as a surprise for his wife and son.

“We’ve been delighted,” he said. “It’s our favorite toilet.”

Mr. Friedman, too, is an enthusiastic proselytizer for washlets …

Whenever he talks about their virtues, he said, “I feel like one of the Apostles passing the word of God.”


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