Japan’s Civilized Toilet Revolution, Ignored in America

Up until two days ago, like the vast majority of Americans I had never used a bidet. Our machiya in Kyoto has two modern-style integrated bidet toilets, a Panosonic and a Lixil model. Over 80% of Japanese households have a bidet toilet. I can’t find reliable data on how many American households have a bidet toilet, but I’m confident they are a rarity in my home country.

And it only took one experience using a bidet toilet to convert me into an enthusiastic–make that obsessed–fan of the bathroom appliance. I am now determined to install one in our master bathroom at home. Here is what changed my life forever…


It looks innocuous enough. Plain, low profile, innocent. It is anything but(t). In fact it is a seductive, technologically sophisticated and almost hypnotically compelling piece of equipment that lures you into its embraces with a heated seat, a warm spray of water just where you need it for as long as you want it, followed by a gentle blow dry and even a deodorizing finis or a derrière massage.

A wirelessly connected panel offers fingertip controls so your fingers don’t have to go anywhere else. Toilet paper is obsolete.


The controls are intuitive. Except when they are labeled in Kanji like the upstairs toilet controls. Then one must rely on the somewhat mysterious and/or mildly entertaining pictographs on the buttons.


This is something I must have back home! Remarkably, when we remodeled our house over a decade ago I had the foresight to have had an electrical outlet placed within inches of the toilet base in our master bath. So I’m ready.

Except…there is one remaining issue. Our bathroom is dark: black slate tile floor, slate tiled shower, dark bamboo wall paneling, black glass sink, and a dark grey toilet. A white toilet will ruin the aesthetics. And in American there are very few choices when it comes to modern integrated bidet toilets. They are all white! In the minds of many, white is the color of cleanliness and purity. Not in our house. I need a black bidet toilet. Like this Lixil model, which is not sold in America.


But(t) I have a plan. I can buy a white Kohler Karing bidet toilet, which is just as sleekly modern as the black Lixil that I lust after, and then  take it to one of the many San Francisco Bay Area auto detailing shops that “wrap” cars in protective vinyl film. For them it will be a simple job to wrap a white Kohler in matte black vinyl. Voila!

Next post about our Kyoto trip >>> Kamibentencho, Our Neighborhood


3 thoughts on “Japan’s Civilized Toilet Revolution, Ignored in America

  1. We have them at our house in Iran. I grew up with them. Just like anything else, they must be of good brands to do the job. 🙂


  2. Hi Barry,
    This was the 1st blog of yours I read and it got me thinking. Maybe I should install a Bidet in our
    soon to be remodeled Ranch house? I have never used a Bidet either. On my trips to Europe
    if a Bath had one I always was a little intimidated and never tried it. So now would be the time to
    add power near where the toilet goes. You said the controls are wireless?
    Enjoy the rest of your trip and your Bidet!



  3. Pingback: Renewal: Mixing Old and New | Electric Travels

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