If you've ever visited Japan, you've probably answered the call of nature at some point, and seen the famous TOTO logo featured on most every toilet here. If you're a wise-cracking gaijin like me, you might have been compelled to say, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Or like my son says, 等々トイレを見つけた tohtoh toire o mitsuketa, "I finally found a toilet," since tohtoh also means "finally" or "after a long time." Toto is the largest toilet maker in Japan, and the fourth largest in the world, and if you've ever enjoyed the warm feeling of having your butt carefully washed and dried by your toilet, you have these people to thank, since the "Washlet" is their invention. The company was launched in 1916 in response to the need for Western-style sanitation as Japan grew more modern, and it experienced rapid growth during the rebuilding after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Like many Japanese company names such as Kyocera ("Kyoto Ceramics"), its name is an abbreviation, in this case Toyo Toki, or Oriental Porcelain. In addition to high-tech toilets, they invented the "unit bath," an easily constructed one-piece bath, sink and toilet room common in Japanese apartments. They also had a successful line of porcelain tableware, although I for one wouldn't want to eat off porcelain plates with that TOTO logo on it.
Apparently Toto is pushing hard to get Washlets accepted in the U.S., although sales are slow so far, with 1000 or so moving each month. By comparison, they're selling a million units a year in China. Click the image below to go to their site and see a pretty amazing website that will probably get you thinking about "that happy Washlet feeling." Clean is happy!