Going to the bathroom is a completely normal and natural necessity. It’s also a private situation not usually discussed even with our closest family members. Bathroom matters are only brought up as the butt of schoolboy toilet humour, or amongst the sick and elderly when proper bowel movements differentiate the healthy from the ailing. Wherever we go in the world, people need to go to the toilet, whether it’s in a royal hotel suite with gold fittings, or a hole in the ground located in the jungle. Sanitation is important in every case, for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones, so it’s important to ensure our toilet environment is as clean as possible.
It might come as a surprise to some people that our infatuation with toilet paper as a bottom cleaning substance is purely a western ideal. In a way it’s a good thing, because if everyone in the world used toilet paper we would have no forests left by now – such is the amount of paper we use. Asians in particular have taken a different path toward personal toilet hygiene, and water is the bottom cleaning substance of choice.
The Asian tradition
Until recently, squatting to do your business was the tradition in Asia, Africa, India, the Middle East and South America. Simple squat toilet facilities were considered adequate, and washing one’s behind was accomplished by using a pitcher of water. High standards of cleanliness were attained by maintaining a regulated lifestyle, including actions associated with bodily toilet functions, and people would defecate early in the morning prior to taking a full bath in the river. Some higher sections of Asian and Indian society still ascribe to this ritual, and no one will enter a kitchen or temple without being completely clean from head to toe.
Our westernised reliance on toilet paper is certainly a convenient option, but there is debate about the sanitary result of wiping our backsides with a wad of dry paper. Some people like to have a shower after passing stool, but then there is the equation of water waste verses cleanliness to consider.
Japanese toilets fit the bill as a happy medium, but not everyone is convinced just yet. Japanese bidet toilet systems, often called washlets, are connected to a water source that cleans your posterior with a spray of water, and this is where many western people get a little grossed out. There is a very real fear amongst some people that spraying water will result in splattering of poo around the toilet bowl, on the seat, over the body and even on the floor. The picture of a smelly mess requiring additional cleaning is too much for some people, and even though it is nothing like the reality, certain prejudices remain.
Westerners are also unaccustomed to spraying a jet of water in their behind, or at other private parts. For some, it is unseemly or even unmanly, and our collective cultural cringe is quite a barrier to overcome.
Learning to trust the experts
However, we have trusted the Japanese to create some of the world’s best electronics and the most reliable cars on the planet, and Japanese people are known as extremely attached to cleanliness both inside and outside the home. So why the reluctance to believe in the sanitary reputation of their toilet systems? There are in fact, several reasons why Japanese toilets are extremely sanitary, both for the user and for the bathroom itself.
- The water spray nozzle is the most distinctive and useful feature of a Japanese toilet. It can be adjusted by remote control for position, spray style, and temperature of water. The water jet sprays only where it is supposed to without wetting anywhere else.
- Many Japanese toilet models also have self cleaning functions at the push of a button, saving a lot of money on cleaning agents and materials that end up polluting the environment.
- New Japanese toilets are very water efficient, using less than 4 litres of water per flush compared to 13 litres used by traditional western toilets. Sanitation starts in the Japanese toilet, with flow-on effects that are good for the environment.
- Some models feature germ-killing UV lights that are activated when the lid is closed, providing additional sanitary protection.
- The use of water instead of toilet paper is known to help combat a range of skin conditions including ‘itchy bum’ caused by an unclean derriere.
We wouldn’t expect to properly clean our face, hands or body without using water, so why should our bums be left out of the loop. It’s obvious to anyone who has used a Japanese bidet toilet that improved cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation is the result. You can bet your bottom dollar that purchasing a Japanese toilet will be money well spent.