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Japan - Toasty warm toilet seats a review (with a little bit of flying thrown in)

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Old Feb 19, 14, 3:32 am
  #1
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Japan - Toasty warm toilet seats a review (with a little bit of flying thrown in)

Background

So my last trip report seemed to interest a fair few people and I thank everyone for the warm comments. What seemed to provoke the most excitement it would seem, was not the fascinating culture of Japan, the wonderful people or the beautiful, it was the electric toilet seats. So given that I am now aware of the core demographic/target audience for my musings I have decided to use my current trip to highlight and review some of the range of electric toilets available in this fantastic country.

“So are you just going to post a lot of photos of toilets?” I hear you ask. Well that would be ridiculous of course; I mean who in their right mind would want to look at toilet lids? No-one! That’s why I am also going to do my best to review said toilet lids, highlight some of the key features and assign marks accordingly

Oh, I’ll also throw in a few bits about food and flying just for the dullards who aren’t interested in Japanese lavatories facilities.

Getting to Japan

My flight out to Japan was by way of British Airways as usual, company policy demands that we fly in the boiler room to keep us all honest and not get ideas above our station, with ~120k miles last year flown down the back my DVT is coming along nicely. With Japan being about the furthest I fly for work I usually burn miles if possible as I urn 12k miles and need 15k to move up a cabin. On this trip that meant a jump from World Traveller (coach) on the way out to World Traveller+ (bigger seats, more legroom, slightly better food) and from WT+ on the way back (the fare was more or less the same as Y) to Club (business) on the way back.

So anyway I headed out the door early on Sunday morning bound for Heathrow Terminal 5 and BA 5 to Narita. The flight is at a ludicrous time of 12:40 and lasting ~11:30 this means you land at midnight UK time to be presented with a full day in front of you, so you have a mostly day flight out with a full day to deal with when you land. The Haneda is even worse as it leaves around 8 in the morning and lands before 5, meaning that you get no night whatsoever. Why BA can’t get better slots I don’t know, it’s been suggested that its JAL protectionism but I will let those more knowledgeable than myself confirm or deny.

So having arrived at Heathrow I preceded to the first class lounge for some breakfast. Toilet update! Very poor toilets in the lounge, no electrical wizardry at all, not heated, no sprays or lights or music, poor showing by us Brits I say, clearly lagging Japan in terms of bog sophistication.
Anyway I won’t bother with photos of the lounge, there are plenty out there already and it’s a big room with some seats, fairly good food (especially breakfast) and decent booze.

BA 5 – LHR to NRT

One of the reasons I fly to Narita instead of Haneda apart from the better timing and even though NRT is less convenient for getting to our office in Shin-Yokohama is the fact that the NRT route is served by a shiny new 777-300. The main benefit of the BA 773 is that you are guaranteed the latest seats throughout the plain with new WT and WT+ installed down the back. You also get the new AVOD with a much wider choice than the old system in aircraft with old WT(+) cabins, although in my experience the new AA system on their 773s is even better. I’m a big fan of the new traveller plus seat and it is a lot more conformable than the old one and it feel roomier, although this may be an illusion. I would suggest that if you are forced to sit upright for 12 hours you would be hard pressed to find a better product out there although I have heard that Qantas W is good as well.

So we headed off for Japan, 11 hours 10 minutes of flying ahead of me and I settled in to watch the excellent gravity, good Captain Phillips and junky Thor 2. I usually watch garbage on planes as my brain doesn’t want to bother processing movies of any substance, indeed something about the altitude seems to make junk seem better and there have been occasions I’ve watched something in the air, thought it was brilliant, re-watched it on the ground only to realise is was a pile of garbage.

About an hour in Lunch was served and in W on BA this means a normal Y meal but with a club world main. The choice was between beef or sea-bream and as the former is usually about as tender as tyre rubber I went for the Japanese option of the fish.


Menu


Lunch

The fish turned out to be a good choice as, while horrendously overcooked as always, at least I didn’t need a chainsaw to cut it and it was tasty with the sauce offsetting any dryness.

An hour or so before landing we were served breakfast (at midnight) with a choice of a full English or an omelette, I went for the former and this was very good considering it was the standard Y meal.


Breakfast

After breakfast and another hour we touched down in Japan, passed through customs and into the world of the heated toilet seat.


You know you’re in Japan when you suitcases come out as well ordered as this!

So having left the airport and with a day to kill I headed to Shin-Yokohama to see how long I could stay awake for. Last time I came to Japan I got to the hotel had a few hours kip and then headed to the office, I don’t think this did me any favours in terms of jet lag latter in the week so this time I stuck it out and stayed up. Having checked into the hotel, the Associa Shin-Yokohama, an unremarkable but perfectly pleasant business hotel, I freshened up and headed for the office whereupon I encountered my first toilet lid.

Toilet Lid 1



This model, an Inax Shower Toilet (I forgot to bring my shampoo), you will notice goes for the all in one approach to lavatorial manipulation with the loo controls attached to the side of the lid. This clearly has benefit in terms of packaging and installation but is less convenient as when required a twisting motion is need to see what you are pressing, certainly don’t want to unleash a bidet on oneself when simply requiring a quick shower! Instructions are provided on the wall of the cubicle and this is where this particular model loses marks as a number of exciting sounding features advertised on the instructions weren’t in fact present on the lid itself, for example “Flushing sound (exclusively for women)”.



I was most disappointed by the lack of the flushing sound feature as I was keen to learn why, as a man, I was unqualified to use it. I was also intrigued about what sound was actually made, I assume it was something suitably lady-like (some Mozart perhaps) and loud enough to drown out the sounds of straining.

Having overcome my disappointment at the lack of the lady flushing, I award this particular model as follows:

Overall 6 out of 10 points lost on account of the false advertising and disappointment at the aforementioned feminine flush missing feature.

More lids, some food and a baffling ATM tomorrow….
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Old Feb 19, 14, 5:54 am
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Great report so far!

God I miss heated Japanese toilets (esp. in winter), its like your arse is in utopia ...
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Old Feb 19, 14, 9:36 am
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Nice report! I seriously contemplate go to Japan for (family) vacation. Reading your report Japan seems to be a must go destination
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Old Feb 19, 14, 11:07 am
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Excitedly awaiting further reviews. One can note that these toilet lids are beginning to become available outside of Japan!
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Old Feb 19, 14, 2:41 pm
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I am glad to see, that I am not the only one fascinated by these japanese toilets. My favourite was the Toto TCF 521 (Hotel Granvia Kyoto).

Fair warning: Do NOT press the button labeled "Maintenance only" ...
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Old Feb 19, 14, 7:30 pm
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I'm partial to the happy face button on the lavs...I'm laughing thinking about them now
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Old Feb 20, 14, 8:09 am
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Welcome to Japan.

I am ready to see more pics of shower toilet which we call "Washlet".
Waiting for further reports.

I hope you enjoy(ed) your stay in Japan.
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Old Feb 20, 14, 7:08 pm
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Some food
Before I continue on my lavatories odyssey around the land of the rising bum spray, I thought I would talk a little about food. I’m a big fan of Japanese food, simply the fact that it is so different from stodgy western food makes it ok in my books. Each time I come here I learn a little more about it and I am willing to try everything that is thrown at me. The thing I love so much is the fact even a 1000 ¥ (~£8/$12) bento box is presented immaculately. This goes for the country in general, the emphasis on politeness leads to universally excellent service and a desire to please and that is reflected in the food served.


The attention to detail is even reflected in the tooth-picks which have a delicate little detail at the top!

On my second day in Japan a couple of colleagues and I jumped on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and headed for Nagoya for some meetings the following morning.


The bullet train was on a bit of a go slow…

As soon as we got to Nagoya we went out for Tonkatsu and specifically the Nagoya specific version, served with a thick miso sauce. It was really fantastic, crispy on the outside, amazingly tender pork in the middle and the miso sauce was a great accompaniment. The dish was also served with a huge bowl of shredded cabbage which you drench in the gorgeous sesame sauce.


Tonkatsu a go go

This trip I did a fair bit of travelling around on the Shinkansen to see various clients so lunch usually consisted of a bento box full of delights. The thing I enjoyed most about these was that half the time I didn’t have a clue what I was eating but generally it was all good. One of the things I love about Japanese food is the range of flavours you get, and each bite can be quite different.


Bento heaven, I had an even more random box on another train but forgot to grab a photo.

On my last full day in Japan I went to visit a company near mount Fuji (a truly iconic an impressive volcano/mountain) and after our meeting we went out for Unagi (Eel) one of my favourite dishes. I try to avoid carbs whenever possible, not easy in Japan, but on the menu at this particular restaurant was the choice of a plain and simple box of the fantastic tasting fish which I devoured readily.


One of my favourite Japanese Foods, Unagi.


The ever impressive mount Fuji (sorry for the blurriness, we were going 150 mph at the time!)

For all the amazing food available in Japan, the local population do seem to have a soft spot for some of the worst of western foods with Starbucks everywhere, Burger king and, most popular of all, KFC. Oh, and very randomly, this…


Toilet number 2!
As I mentioned earlier, I headed over to Nagoya for a meeting and, with the appointment early the next morning, stayed overnight in the Meitetsu Grand Hotel. It was a slightly odd place dressed up to look a bit like a grand old European hotel inside whilst simultaneously being a bit care worn and faded. My room was large, for a Japanese hotel, but generally a bit run down and the toilet was something of an old model.


Loo Two!

The seat controls were again mounted to the side again making access tricky. One impressive thing, however, was the seat heat which moved beyond toasty and into the realms of light bum cheek cooking. There was an option to turn it down but Japan is cold this time of year so I felt I could walk on the wild side and leave my behind to cook. Another exciting feature of this particular model is the variable spray strength controlled by a large analogue dial. This allowed me to pretend that I was some kind of space ship captain slowly dialling up the power on my rocket/bum spray.

The whole show, however, was let down by the fact that the flush was a manual one mounted behind the toilet on the wall. Can you imagine having to actually having to manually flush a toilet with a lever? Such barbarism!!

Overall: 7 out of 10, nice features, good heat but all let down by lack of electronic flushing.
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Old Feb 20, 14, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by im.daniel View Post
Great report so far!

God I miss heated Japanese toilets (esp. in winter), its like your arse is in utopia ...
Glad you like it, I know what you mean about the lids, its going to be very hard going back to one of those medieval unheated affairs we have back home!

Originally Posted by TPJ View Post
Nice report! I seriously contemplate go to Japan for (family) vacation. Reading your report Japan seems to be a must go destination
Do it! I love Japan its an amazing place and so different from the "west" that it is a must see I believe!

Originally Posted by roastpuff View Post
Excitedly awaiting further reviews. One can note that these toilet lids are beginning to become available outside of Japan!
If they ever come to the UK I will be first in line!

Originally Posted by Askartus View Post
I am glad to see, that I am not the only one fascinated by these japanese toilets. My favourite was the Toto TCF 521 (Hotel Granvia Kyoto).

Fair warning: Do NOT press the button labeled "Maintenance only" ...
Noted, although I haven't run into a model with such a button yet!

Originally Posted by macdonaldj2 View Post
I'm partial to the happy face button on the lavs...I'm laughing thinking about them now
I can but imagine what such a button might do, I haven't experienced a happy face lid yet.

Originally Posted by Osakaboy View Post
Welcome to Japan.

I am ready to see more pics of shower toilet which we call "Washlet".
Waiting for further reports.

I hope you enjoy(ed) your stay in Japan.
I love your country so thank you for the welcome! Sadly I'm sitting in the lounge now awaiting my flight home. I travel a lot on business and so generally am happy to head home but leaving Japan is hard because every time I come I love the place more!
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Old Feb 20, 14, 10:08 pm
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Finally, a report about the best thing in Japan. After our trip there a few years ago we bought two special toilet seats, one of the most excellent inventions ever. Keep the details coming...
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Old Feb 21, 14, 9:47 am
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You can certainly get Toto's in the US. Our whole house has them but I'm the only one with the built in bidet/bum warmer. We're in Florida but sleep cold so it is very nice in the middle of the night
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Old Feb 21, 14, 12:13 pm
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I am curious about the "preparation" button on toilet #2. What?
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Old Feb 21, 14, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Dianne47 View Post
I am curious about the "preparation" button on toilet #2. What?
I never noticed that, perhaps it's like a parking sensor for your arse, guiding you in.
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Old Feb 21, 14, 12:50 pm
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funny & entertaining report. I also travel to SE Asia a couple times a year (mainly Hong Kong and Tokyo), and fell in love with the washlets as well...so much that I installed one in my apartment. A bit expensive but totally worth it.
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Old Feb 22, 14, 9:06 am
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Toilet 3
I don't wish to ruin the surprise but this toilet lid was AWESOME.

On my last full day in Japan, we headed out towards Mount Fuji for a meeting. The day before the weather was beautifully clear affording me a stunning view of the volcano from the Shinkansen. I was looking forward to a closer view today but sadly everything was shrouded in mist, no matter however, the toiletry marvel I was about to experience more than made up for it.

We arrived at the client's site half an hour or so early and so had a bit of time to kill. Japanese meetings are amazing things really, everywhere else in the world where I have had meetings, you generally turn up at some kind of reception, tell the receptionist you are there, they call your contact who comes down to meet you. In Japan you just turn up at the meeting room at the allotted time and everyone appears as if from nowhere. Then there are the rituals, the giving of business cards is amazing but saying goodbye is even more impressive (and long-winded) with a flurry of bowing and backing away, I'm never quite sure when to stop bowing in case it is rude. Somehow it's comforting, with everything so formalised you know where you stand and what to do when.

Anyway I digress, we had a bit of time to kill so we grabbed a coffee this gave me the perfect excuse to go and examine the conveniences! It didn't start promisingly, the loos were small, bland and with only one cubicle, I wasn't hopeful but how wrong I was. I slowly opened the door of the cubicle and there before me was a technological marvel. The toilet lid was opening itself right before my eyes, as if to say "come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable". What's more, the gentle raising of the lid revealed something even more impressive, a landing light! I had never thought that a loo might need a light but now I will look down on any lid that doesn't have one!


Such wonders to behold!

The control panel revealed yet more exciting features....the ability to reposition the spray, just in case your bum is in a different place to everyone else. Dryers, deodorising two different types of spray and best of all, massage! Normally I have to pay a Thai woman called Bang Bang for such services, but no more, now I can get a toilet lid to do it free of charge!


Small but perfectly formed

Overall: 10 out of 10. How could it be anything else with such a plethora of features? Truly a wonder of the modern age.
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