Toirepronounced “toe-E-ray” is the Japanese abbreviation of “toilet” and is used in its place. Toire comes directly from the English word “Toilet,” so it is extremely easy for any Westerner to remember and pronounce. The use of the word “toire,” while used fairly widely before World War Ⅱ became particularly widespread during the time of the U.S. post World War Ⅱ occupation, and has become eclipse of the other most used Japanese word for toilet, “benjo” .
Over the course of the 20th century, toilets in Japan have evolved to become arguable the most advanced in the world. With a few exceptions over the centuries, sit down style toilets first appeared in Japan in the early 20th century, such as in the many high-scale buildings and department stores which rose in Tokyo during the 1920s and 1930s, but only became widespread in general households after the Second World War. Until this time most Japanese ceramic toilets found in homes and public restrooms were of the “squat” toilet style seen throughout greater Asia. With the introduction in “Washlet” style toilet by TOTO and the “Shower Toilet” of INAX over the course of the late 1960s to early 1980s, Japan stepped to the forefront of the world in toilet innovation and quality.
“Washlet” style toilets are distinguishable in that they possess an array of features not seen in the majority of Western ceramic toilets. Modern washlet style toilets have heated seats, adjustable water pressure and automatic bidet jets, both heated and non-heated air jet driers for post-bidet use, pre-installed relaxation music and/or MP3 compatibility, a “masking sound” feature that simulates a flush to cover up for unpleasant sounds, LED lighting, and anti-stench oxygen cartridges and or ionizers. During the first decade of the 21st century in light of increased environmental awareness “washlet” toilets have seen great improvements in water efficiency and energy use. Recent models also come equipped with wireless touch pad control modules that can be hung on the wall or placed on other surfaces. Next time you’re in Japan, don’t be shy and try out a washlet toilet. You won’t believe what you’ve been missing!
By John Offer