Japanese bidet makers flush with post-coronavirus opportunities

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Japanese manufacturer Toto's "intelligent" Washlet system being showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP file photo)
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Just as bidets are popular in the Arab world, shower-toilets such as the Washlet from Japan are in a league of their own. (Supplied photo)
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Updated 04 April 2020

Japanese bidet makers flush with post-coronavirus opportunities

  • Long a fixture in Arab and Asian toilets, the device is now getting a second look in US and Europe
  • Modern-day models have functions such as seat warmers and controls for water temperature

DUBAI/TOKYO: As supermarkets in the West struggle to keep rolls of toilet paper on their shelves, Japanese people do not have to worry about disappearing toilet rolls, as they have something superior: the Washlet.

Just as bidets are popular in the Arab world, shower-toilets such as the Washlet from Japan are in a league of their own.

With such functions as seat warmers, deodorizer to even air dryers, the popular Japanese company Toto creates luxury toilets that have become a staple of Asian homes, restaurants and public buildings.

Toto introduced the first electric toilet with an integrated bidet, the Washlet, in Japan in 1980.

The Japanese company, which was founded in 1917, prides itself on its commitment to improving the environment by creating sustainable toilets that include water-saving features such as eco-friendly flushes.

There is also a unique option in some of Toto’s bidets: Flushing sounds or even music that can cover up embarrassing noises when people do their business.

Washlets have many options in its latest products, including controls for water temperature and jet stream power and direction.

Customers have a choice of speedy and soft jet streams.

Most Washlets have two jets, one for men and one for women. A control panel at the bottom makes the seat easily maneuverable. But advanced Washlets have a control panel at the wall so a user can relax while doing their business.

Toto’s most expensive toilet is the Neorest 750H, which costs over $13,000, according to the official website.

The popular toilet includes an automatic lid that opens or closes when one approaches, an adjustable spray position, a multifunctional wall-mounted remote control and an air-purifying system along with a Bluetooth connectivity to play one’s favorite tracks.

The Washlet even has its own museum. The Toto museum, located in Tokyo, showcases the history and evolution of the bidet in order to pass on the “corporate values to future generations.”




The Toto museum in Tokyo, Japan. (Courtesy: https://jp.toto.com)

According to the official Toto Museum website, which showcases the culture and history of plumbing equipment, the company “hopes the museum provides visitors an opportunity to learn about the philosophy behind TOTO Manufacturing and how products have developed.”

Toto has several showrooms around the Middle East, including multiple in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.

The company also has a showroom in San Francisco. However, while the Western world is aware of these smart hygienic products, their own habits have yet to grow accustomed.

Other big names in the toilet market include Inax and Toshiba. Prices range from about $175 at discount stores to about $325, although an expensive model can cost more than $400.

Japanese-style bidets are enjoying a spurt in popularity owing to toilet-paper shortages in Western countries resulting from panic shopping amid the coronavirus public-health emergency.

At the same time, production has reportedly hit a snag. Nikkei xTECH has reported delays of parts from China, where the first major coronavirus outbreak occurred, amid disruptions in the chain of business.

Suppliers have also not been able to keep up with increased demand from manufacturers trying to stock up on parts they fear may be difficult to obtain moving forward.


What We Are Reading Today: A Course in Microeconomic Theory

Updated 27 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A Course in Microeconomic Theory

Author: David M. Kreps 

 

David M. Kreps has developed a text in microeconomics that is both challenging and “user-friendly.” The work is designed for the first-year graduate microeconomic theory course and is accessible to advanced undergraduates as well. 

Placing unusual emphasis on modern noncooperative game theory, it provides the student and instructor with a unified treatment of modern microeconomic theory — one that stresses the behavior of the individual actor (consumer or firm) in various institutional settings. The author has taken special pains to explore the fundamental assumptions of the theories and techniques studied, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses.

The book begins with an exposition of the standard models of choice and the market, with extra attention paid to choice under uncertainty and dynamic choice. 

General and partial equilibrium approaches are blended, so that the student sees these approaches as points along a continuum. 

The work then turns to more modern developments. Readers are introduced to noncooperative game theory and shown how to model games and determine solution concepts. Models with incomplete information, the folk theorem and reputation, and bilateral bargaining are covered in depth. Information economics is explored next. A closing discussion concerns firms as organizations and gives readers a taste of transaction-cost economics.