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  • Writer's pictureHarsh

Japanese Bidet Toilet Seat Culture

Updated: Feb 15

The Value Of Personal Hygiene in Japan

Japanese culture places a high value on personal hygiene, and this facilitated the success of the Japanese bidet toilet. If you’ve visited a traditional household or restaurant, you’ve likely been asked to take off your shoes and use a separate set of slippers to enter the bathroom. Separating the clean from unclean is just one example of Japanese ritualistic purification.

Red slippers with white writing on them, resting on the floor.

Even before the coronavirus, commuters wore face masks to prevent the spread of germs. Steamed mini towels are given at restaurants before meals to clean one’s hands. Walk around Japanese cities and you’ll find clean streets, spotless buses, subways and hand-sanitizer dispensers in areas with high foot traffic. Cleanliness is integral to the Japanese identity.

Origins of the modern Japanese bidet toilet seat

The modern bidet as we know it was invented in Brooklyn, New York, by a man named Arnold Cohen, to provide relief for his father’s medical condition. The American Sitzbath featured a nozzle that sprayed warm water and also blew hot air, but it was not successful. Posterior cleansing was then, as is now, a cultural taboo to speak about in public, and as such, few media outlets wanted to run Cohen’s marketing ads.

Cohen licensed his invention to a company called Nichimen Jitsugyo in Japan, which upgraded the original model and 1967 introduced the Wash Air Seat to the Japanese market. This Japanese bidet also failed because it was too expensive—and perhaps more importantly, the concept was too foreign. One must remember that Japan didn’t reopen its doors to Western trade and discourse until 1853. Assimilation of Western habits needed time to ferment.

Eventually, during the early 20th century, Japan began to absorb Western consumerism. This influx of Western goods and ideas created a cultural conflict in Japan, and a growing sense of “ni-ju seikatsu,” or living a “double life.” New Western values were embraced, challenged and certainly rejected. The divide boiled down to accepting tradition or change, and ultimately what should be considered “appropriately Japanese” to disburse across the culture as a whole.

Two people in stylish outfits, one holding an umbrella. Fashionable duo braving the rain with style.

How pop culture launched the bidet into the mainstream

In 1982, a series of commercials featuring actress Jun Towaga promoting the first Japanese-style bidet attachment debuted during prime time, featuring the catchphrase, “Even though it’s a butt, it would like to be washed.” The emphasis on hygiene amplified by pop culture catapulted the bidet attachment to bathrooms across Japan: 80% of households today have a bidet installed, about the same number as personal computers and digital cameras.

The future of the Japanese style bidet

The Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association recently standardized the operating icons for electric bidet seats, to make them foreigner-friendly, especially considering the influx of tourists expected to attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, now rescheduled for mid-2021. It’s a brilliant effort to export high-tech bidets via the globetrotters who will experience their pleasant convenience. The best way to convince people to buy one is for them to use one.

A bathroom with a toilet, toilet paper, and a sign saying "wash your hands".

Using a Japanese style bidet is an experience unlike any other—once you try one it’s easy to see Western toilet culture as a Neanderthal experience in comparison. Japanese bidets have a wide range of bells and whistles besides the expected comfy warm seats and washes— there’s music to motivate bowel movement, flushing sound effects to drown out embarrassing noises, bidets that welcome users with automatic lids, even air conditioning for sweaty rumps.

A clean and modern bathroom with a toilet and sink.

Since the start of the millennium, Japanese style toilets started to evolve into an early disease prevention medical device. Modern bidets can read sugar levels in urine through special receptacles, measure blood pressure via seat sensors, calculate weight through built-in scales, and they can relay this information to your personal digital files, or to your doctor.

“With an eye to our demographic change, we are setting out to make the toilet a space for the early discovery of disease.'' —Hironori Yamazaki, Bidet Engineer

Are Japanese style toilet seats available in India?

Absolutely. In 2019, our cofounder Harsh went to work in Japan. and discovered the Japanese electronic bidet. It was an experience he wouldn’t forget. In awe of cutting-edge Japanese technology, he began his pursuit to bring custom comfort, convenient, clean, and better bathroom experience to the Indian market. In early 2023, He started selling Japanese toilet seats on online e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Flipkart etc.

LushWash aims to educate homeowners about the misconceptions and benefits of modern bidets, even involving loyal customers in the design of our products. We offer great entry level prices—portable travel bidet bottles cost about the same as a lunch, and if you can afford a good smartphone, you can afford a Brondell bidet with the creature comforts you expect.

You don’t have to travel to Japan or take out a bank loan to experience the comfort, perks and healthy benefits of a Japanese bidet toilet. Take a look at the wide selection of bidet toilet seats and attachments we offer for more information—and if you decide to get one, we have a feeling you’ll not only be happy with your purchase, but will also join the Wash Don’t Wipe revolution that gained popularity in Japan back in the 80s, and is now making its way across India.

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