Wednesday, February 1, 2006


Posted by kuri, ping, the pinglet, & mini-ping on 2/01/2006
If there is one thing I like about Japan (and I like many things about Japan!), it is the toilets. Especially the washlets.

I love the heated seats in the winter, the automatic bidets, all the little dodads and gadgets attached. I've even gone into public restrooms where I can relax to the sounds of birds singing. Too bad there isn't a portable TV...then there would be absolutely no need to come out of the bathroom, except to sleep.

I saw this article today about how Americans have started to appreciate Japan's heated toilets. Toto, which is located in Kitakyushu no less!, calls it an "an invigorating and revitalizing bathroom experience", which is not the exact phrasing I would use to describe daily visits to that room, but hey, to each his own, right?

Well, I have a toilet story for you! This story still brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face whenever I remember also makes me wipe my brow with relief after getting away from a potential "international incident", which might have occurred, had I not been quick thinking.

In 1999, Kitakyushu was the site of the US-Japan Conference of Mayors and Chamber of Commerce Presidents, which was a biannual meeting that had been held since the end of WWII. Since the HQ of Toto was located in Kitakyushu, the company wanted to present the mayors from the U.S. with a commemorative gift. Which was a nice gesture, I thought.

One day, I was in the office and saw a brightly colored object on my coworkers desk. It looked like one of those boxes that contained moist towelettes, but my Japanese coworker (CW) was looking at this object with fascination as he typed on his computer so I decided to see what was up.

Me: What's that?

CW: It's a washlet.

Me: A washlet? To store moist towelettes? Where do you take them out of?

CW: What are you talking about?

Me: That! That...thing on your desk. What is it for?

CW (suddenly in English): It's a travel bidet and people use it to wash their ass (Yes, he said "ass"...I didn't even know he spoke English for god's sake.)

Me (totally struck dumb with what he just said, feeling hysterical giggle bubbles well up from my stomach--that's the best way to describe it): Why is it on your desk? Shouldn't it be in the bathroom?

CW: No, we're giving it to the U.S. mayors as a commerative gift from the meeting. We're going to put the logo on it and we want you to translate the pamphlet on how to use it.

Me (now, with TEARS running down my face, clutching my stomach, totally unable to control my snorts, laughter, all out HYSTERIA and fear about what he just said): You're going to give that to the mayors? What, so they can remember Kitakyushu every time they take a sh*t?

They were going to offer the mayors a choice of three different types of washlets--ladies, regular, and large...and I was going to be the interpreter for this exchange. Uh, I don't think so, is what I told them but in my head I was screaming, "Fire me! Don't make me do this!"

They're on sale if anyone's interested! Tell them I sent you. *grin*

6 of you feeling verklempt. Tawlk amongst yourselves:

Narelle said...

How hysterical!!! I can just see you now Chris trying to keep a straight face while explaining to these people that it is actually a very thoughtful gift. Imagine having an embossed loo seat from your local conference - how funny !!!


Andrea said...


L. said...

I`ll bet the mayors would have liked it, actually -- especially if any of them had plans to travel in other Asian countries on their trip.
And I would have just loved to have read the "how to use it" pamphlet.

kuri & ping said...

I don't know how I would have explained this! Really!

L, the pamphlet was priceless...little cartoon sketches of people crouched over the toilet, operating the "petite washlette", as it was called. I should have made copies. :)

Fan said...



Granny said...

I wish I had one of those lovely toilets.

That story is so funny. No way could I have read that description to anyone.


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