For the H. Wayne Huizenga class, it makes perfect sense. You've already got a private jet for business, so why not get a "rectum water jet" for your most private business? The "bottom drier" comes standard, as the salesman must have mentioned, along with the heated seats and the symphony of pleasant nature sounds that drown out unpleasant natural sounds. Finally, the air purifiers, so that Mr. Huizenga will always enjoy the business advantage that comes with thinking -- knowing -- that his shit don't stink.
But the question is whether Toto, the Japan-based lavatory and kitchen ceramics company, can make its case for domestic luxury to a broader set of U.S. consumers. A good place to start is with an article in this week's issue of The Economist, which is what distinguished people -- the Toto demographic -- read in the bathroom. In it, Fort Lauderdale is mentioned as one of the "posh American cities" where Toto has opened a "gallery." The website is here, and the gallery is just north of East Cypress Road near I-95. A bit of intel you coffee-swilling morning commuters might find handy.
This isn't a particularly new technology, however. Waterlets have been around since 1980 and are in the majority of Japanese households. They've become a status symbol in China. But the article says that the company sells only about 2,000 waterlets a year in the U.S., and that may be partly to blame for the company's slow growth. I found a 1990 article in Forbes that put the company's previous year's revenue at $2.5 billion. Twenty years later, it's $5 billion.
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For Westerners, reviews have been... well... they've covered the whole spectrum -- from euphoria to post-traumatic stress.
A writer in London tells of how she excused herself from her table at a sushi restaurant, then "ended up road-testing the lavatorial equivalent of Nasa's Discovery shuttle." It was, she declared, "the best toilet experience of my life."
Not a description that an elementary school teacher visiting Korea would use for his own encounter with what he called a "superloo." A vivid, terrifying tale that I'll let Andrew Mitton tell you himself:
The toilet itself is a fancy affair, marble tiled, modern hand dryers and porcelain bottles of hand soap with gold gilded caps. I find an empty cubicle and take my position. Halfway through the unspoken act I notice that I am in fact sat on a very space age contraption with lots of buttons and flashing lights. Me, being me, I give no thought whatsoever to the consequences of pushing all the buttons at once. At best I think that the seat may warm up or the toilet will speak to me. There follows a period of nothingness, which in retrospect I would describe as the calm before the storm. I would estimate that this time lapse was 4/5 seconds. Suddenly I am hit straight up the rectum by what can only be described as an jet wash of water (it seems that I have inadvertently set everything to full). In total panic I leap from the seat (I guess you could say it literally scared the shit out of me). With the stealth of a ninja I spin on my axis only to be hit full in the face by the water cannon. I duck and the torrent the scale of Niagara bombards the cubicle door. I am in a total flap by now and my mind goes blank. I throw my whole body into the path of the the water jet and am quickly soaked from head to foot. I fight my way through the jet and slam my hands down on all the buttons until eventually the water stops as suddenly as it started.
I emerge from the cubicle with much resemblance to the proverbial drowned rat. Things are worse than I could have possibly imagined, my bizarre bathroom behaviour has alerted the other patrons of the toilet, who are plentiful and eagerly waiting to perform their ablutions. To hide my inner turmoil, I raise my head, look them in the eye and positively stride out of the cubicle as if this is my normal routine. I hasten to inform that water is by this point, flooding under the cubicle door and in danger of flooding the whole bathroom. Undeterred by my sodden state I stride back into the corridor, past legions of first birthday babies. They are alerted to my presence by my squelchy shoe noises and all go quiet. I then return to my seat and try and blend in with the conversation. However my co-teachers have also been drawn in by my squelchy shoe noises and have looks of total horror on their faces. I am forced into an explanation of my shit house shenanigans and expect to be met by rapturous laughter. What actually happens is, they all fall silent and I get the feeling that I have brought great shame upon the teachers of Anmin elementary school.
There is a moral to this story but I doubt that I will adhere to it.