People don’t like talking about toilets, so we’re going to. In particular, we’re going to talk about the Japanese Shower Toilet. Concretely, we’re going to advocate the adoption of the Japanese Shower Toilet in the US. Currently, this variety of commode is only widely seen in its native country.

In the US, the Japanese Shower Toilet (along with its less sophisticated cousin, the bidet) is not found with any meaningful frequency. The occasional house or hospitality business has one, often equally as much for novelty as for functional application. Americans overwhelmingly rely on toilet paper to do the job. Americans are missing out.

It seems that the Japanese toilet would be good both for people and the environment. Putting aside the planetary and health benefits, it’s simply a good experience. To a new user, even the most basic functionality of the Japanese toilet can be a big hurdle to overcome, but once the initial trepidation has been conquered, the benefits become clear. Whether it’s heated seat for greater comfort, the sounds that give you more privacy when you sit down, or the cleaner, less-wasteful backend (pun intended) of the encounter, there are plenty of reasons to be happy once the deed has been done.

Nevertheless, bathroom habits and practices are hard to change and can lead to awkward situation, just ask Cosmo Kramer. Particularly when what seems like a perfectly good situation is cheaper than the alternative. But, there are non-scatological examples where the status quo has been revolutionized. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out when discussing the Japanese john, people didn’t realize they needed an iPhone before Apple launched it.

Now the iPhone and its smartphone brethren are everywhere. So much so that homes are being refitted with smart devices and the so-called Internet of Things (IoT, also known as the Internet of Everything [IoE]) so that you can use your phone to control these devices. Nest thermostats are one example, app-controlled washing machines are another, and the list goes on.

Japanese toilets, however, do not seem to be on the list. Or if they are, they’re not very high up. This, possibly, is because unlike other IoT devices they don’t require a smartphone to operate; in fact, a toilet-control app that’s accessible by multiple people could lead to mischief.

Smartphone-controlled or not, the Japanese toilet in the US is still very much a cutting edge amenity. Ultimately, the market may be driven by individual homeowners, but as we sit here in the middle of the amenities arms race in multifamily, we can’t help but think these toilets could be as much of a gamechanger (or more) for forward-thinking properties as providing dedicated apps or free wi-fi.

Would this put off some prospective residents? Maybe, but people can use a Japanese toilet just as they would use any other toilet – just ignore all the buttons! In helping reduce toilet paper usage a property might be able to push its green credentials while reducing the chances backed up pipes at the same time. At the very least it would be a differentiator and would pay for itself in press exposure. At the very best, it would flush away the old way of taking care of business in apartments across America.

Photo credit: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Modern_japanese_toilet.jpg)

Control panel of a Japanese toilet. Photo credit: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons