probably one of the most well-known countries in Asia, perhaps even the
world, for their clean toilets and outstanding standard of hygiene. Japan
is known for two different genre of loos.
The first type is what is known as the Asian toilet by some or the 'squat
toilets' by others. This is basically a gap in the bottom base of the
toilet with a porcelain bottom. This is the sort of toilets that can be
found all over Asia and are the traditional forms of toilets that are
favoured by Asians. Some argue that these toilets are only meant for passing
motion and not for urinating.
This is a logical assumption as, when this form of toilet is used in many
Asian countries for urinating, the floor area around the hole in the base
of the toilet becomes dirty and soiled. Perhaps, this form of thinking
can be exported to other Asian countries in order to allow the public
to use cleaner forms of toilets. In many older parts of Asia, there is
still no choice in terms of the type of toilet that one is able to use
as the squat toilet is about the only one. However, this is slowly changing
as the newer Asian cities now offers the sit-down Western-style toilets,
including the public toilets. This is perceived to be much more cleaner
than the squat toilets.
However, some argue that the squat down toilets have their own advantages.
By squatting down, women can strengthen their muscles around the hindquarters
and this is said to contribute to prevention of urinary incontinence.
Thus, some argue that it is probably the reason why this problem is found
in lesser incidences than Western women. This is likely to remain controversial
and a subject of much debate.
Japanese sometimes use traditional clogs when they are using squat toilets.
One common explanation is that the height of the clogs keeps the person
urinating above the potential wet floor. Some even argue that men wearing
yukata makes them easier to pee as there is no fly involved. Urinating
would be easy as one can just lift up the yukata to one side. These are
perhaps urban myths conjured up by tourists visiting Japan but they are
not without their logic.
The Japanese toilet that draws the most attention is perhaps the electronic
sitdown toilets. The seat rest has an installed heater, a welcomed feature
during wintertime. There are also hydraulic jets that can spray water
to clean either the female private part or the anus. The disadvantage
though is that when a person does not know how to use it properly, she/he
can end up very wet. The jet of water can be strong or weak. The strong
mode can be upsetting for some first time users. The other ergonomic controversy
is the fact that sometimes users, particularly foreigners who do not know
how to use the electronic toilets is unable to stop the jet of water and
may end up washing their face if they turn around to face the toilet bowl
in an attempt to stop the water jet.
It will take a lot of public education and civic-consciousness before
these toilets can be installed in other Asian countries without vandalism
or other forms of misuse or abuse by members of the public. Besides the
toilet seats itself, there are also features of Japanese toilet that indicate
the coming of age of Japanese toilet usage. For example, in many of the
shopping centres, particularly the big ones in the city, there are hairdryers
located in the toilets for the convenience of the women. This is an extremely
advanced features as such hairdryers may easily become the object of theft
or vandalism in other Asian countries. In addition, some even had installed
sofas. More important than such advanced gadgets and relatively expensive
features, are the toilet seat covers. These are things that should be
popularized in other Asian countries in the interest of public hygiene.
In conclusion, Japanese toilets could very well end up as models for other
Asian countries in terms of development. It is certainly a model that
is worthwhile to follow as more Asian economies progresses, particularly
for the advanced developing countries of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore
and Hong Kong SAR. These countries are slowly catching up with the Japanese
standards of hygiene and may level Japan someday. For example, one can
certainly find more electronic automatic flushing toilets in high-tech
Singapore. This is probably an example of latecomer's advantage.