Have I ever mentioned before how one simple thing would hugely improve my life? A toilet that actually flushes properly and doesn't leave you staring down the bowl for the next ten minutes ensuring nothing has popped back round the U-bend and waiting for the cistern to refill enough to reflush. A toilet that doesn't require several buckets full of water lobbed down it every few months to clear the expensive blockage of built up debris the feeble flush hasn't shifted. In short a proper toilet like we used to have in the old days before Eco-toilets were forced on us.
|Economy model featuring temperature adjustment and two different spray functions|
And so this brings me to the ultimate toilet... the Japanese toilet.. complete with a minimum of three different orifice sprays, (as in three different sprays not three different orifices - although you never know) heated bog seat and a flush enough to whisk away the most defiant of debris.
Obviously at first we showed the natural British reticence when confronted with anything remotely resembling a bidet. But soon the warmth of the seat (which normally one would treat with the slight repugnance of knowing it had only just been vacated) became quite relaxing. By the time we had reached our second hotel I had tested out a few of the sprays - just for research purposes obviously. At the third hotel the sound of laughter coming from the toilet room assured me that the Bedsock was joining in the research process too. It took a while to realise the optimum position to sit in order to achieve a full 'wall of water' spray in the correct location - Japanese bottoms are doubtless (like most things Japanese) more compact than British ones.
|Mid-range model with 3 sprays (never did really get the difference between first two options)|
The toilet seats come with their own control panels and, more worryingly, sometimes a notice saying beware electrocution! As the instructions were almost invariably in Japanese it took a while to work out what all the various controls did resulting in a rather hot bottom when I turned the heating controls up too far.
|Super deluxe all singing and dancing option but I couldn't work out which was the flush!|
The more luxurious the accommodation we stayed in, the better the bog seat. We were vastly taken with the one at our final ryokan which opened its lid when you entered the room and played soothing music. Less so with a previous one which without being asked, played crashing wave music every time I performed my ablutions but studiously avoided doing so for the Bedsock!
Clearly these are not toilets that you would want to share with others without some provenance of them being thoroughly cleaned prior to use so we were amazed to find that even the most humble of motorway stations had public toilets with these capabilities. As someone who either spends ten minutes lining any public bog seat with paper prior to ablutions and has perfected the art of hovering high above, the idea of using these was a step too far. Perhaps it is different for the Japanese - their obsession for pefectly packaging and presenting everything may give some truth to a phrase that passed for wit in my teenage years "X is so perfect their shit comes out pre-wrapped in plastic".
But unfortunately whilst suffering from toilet envy we must take into account the ecological unsoundness of Japanese toilets. Apparently Japan has closed most of its nuclear reactors and my understanding is that it has been able to do this because people are using less electricity in their homes. Unplug a few heated bog seats and another nuclear reactor could be shut down.
Sadly, knowing I am doing my bit to save the world doesn't make me feel any better about my own toilet's failure to flush and I am already missing the 'bidet' setting on the hot seat.