What's a Japanese Toilet?

by Michael Franco
white clean toilet in washing closet

For decades, Japanese innovation has made an indelible impact on the world. From video games to food to cars to cartoons, Japan is a nation of pioneers. And yet, as impactful as these contributions are, there is one technological marvel that arguably towers above the rest. You probably aren’t even aware of it, but this innovation has the power to transform your bathroom experience forever. You read that right: The Japanese have revolutionized the toilet, and it is glorious.

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Japanese-style toilets have a variety of features, including an integrated bidet, heated seats and automated lids, all of which work together to make your excursions to the potty cleaner, more convenient and more comfortable. In Japan, these state-of-the-art toilets are the norm — restaurants, hotels, offices and the majority of homes have them.

Here in the United States, however, they are few and far between. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By knowing what your options are and where to look, you too can enjoy the life-changing magic of the electronic Japanese toilet, no matter your budget.

Features Galore

The biggest distinguishing factor between toilets in Japan and toilets in the U.S. is the sheer number of features offered by Japanese versions. In the U.S., toilets generally have one function: flushing. But in Japan, electronic toilets can include upwards of twenty different functionalities and features. Here are some of the most common ones:

Cleaning Wand

The signature feature of a Japanese-style toilet — also called a washlet — is the cleaning wand. Located directly below the toilet seat, the cleaning wand sprays your tush and offers a remarkable level of cleanliness that just can’t be achieved with toilet paper alone. But this isn’t your average bidet. These Japanese-style seats are all about versatility and customization. The integrated cleaning wand generally has two washes available: a posterior wash and a front wash.

It doesn’t end there. Many Japanese bidets allow users to customize water temperature and water pressure to suit their individual preferences. Some models even allow for the option for the jets of water to pulsate or vibrate. Higher-end toilets take it a step further and mix the water with soap for advanced cleaning.

Heated Seats

Another popular feature of the electronic Japanese toilet is a heated seat. Say goodbye to those cold winter mornings when a quick perch on your throne can send an unwelcome, icy jolt to your hindquarters. These heated seats are completely customizable and typically include a timer function that saves power. For example, you might set your seat to be all warm and cozy in preparation for your morning constitutional, but then time it to cool off during the day when you are away. More advanced models that utilize “smart” technology will even learn your regular usage patterns and preferences to make your trips to the bathroom as comfortable and convenient as possible.

White Noise

In addition to the comfort and advanced cleanliness offered by Japanese-style toilets, the white noise machine function is intended to enhance the privacy of the user. Depending on the model, these noisemakers are triggered by the user sitting on the seat or with the press of a button. Some toilets play a standard sound of running water, while others let the user choose between a number of different sound options. The higher-end models can even play classical music if you so desire. It’s one of those features you didn’t know you needed in your life.

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Other popular features of Japanese toilets include automatic lids that open and close as you approach, air dryers and deodorizers that treat your bum as if it had descended from royalty. What’s more? All of these features are controlled via a handy remote control. These offerings make for an unparalleled potty experience that’ll have you tossing your toilet paper aside and wondering how you ever settled for less.

Finding Your Toilet Soulmate

Sound interesting? Luckily, there are several ways to get this technology into your home. If you’re ready to take the plunge into electronic toilet paradise, you generally have two main options. You could replace your existing toilet with a fully loaded and customizable smart Japanese toilet like the Toto G400. However, at $2,000, a complete toilet replacement may not be in your budget. In that case, you can harness the power of these technological marvels by purchasing a Japanese-style bidet seat like the Brondell Swash 1400. It’s a more affordable option, but it still includes a number of high-tech features like a heated seat and adjustable bidet settings.

The Toilet You Didn’t Know You Needed

Once you’ve tried a Japanese toilet for yourself, it’s likely you’ll want to recreate this luxurious experience in your home for the many bathroom breaks of your future. So all that’s left to figure out is how much you’re prepared to spend and which Japanese washlet is best suited for your particular wants and needs. Trust us: You won’t know how you lived without one.