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Centuries of toilets honoured in Japanese museum

he museum operated by TOTO -- best known for its bidet-equipped Washlet series -- opens its doors on Friday in the southwestern city of Kitakyushu, where the company is based.

TOKYO // Japan’s leading toilet giant opens a new museum this week dedicated to a century of lavatories, from its first water flushing model to the most cutting edge version with odour-neutralisers and variable water jets.

The museum operated by TOTO -- best known for its bidet-equipped Washlet series -- opens its doors on Friday in the southwestern city of Kitakyushu, where the company is based.

High-tech toilets, common in Japan, regularly win praise from foreign tourists and celebrities as the epitome of Japanese know-how -- a contraption that offers both comforting warmth and a frighteningly accurate bidet jet.

But the toilet firm said Thursday that it is reaching back into its past with a replica of its first water flushing toilet seat, which came onto the market in 1914.

There will also be remakes of washrooms that TOTO supplied to major buildings across Japan, including the State Guest House in downtown Tokyo, where foreign dignitaries stay, and those installed at a luxury hotel for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Admission will be free, it said.

Nearly every household in Japan and many public restrooms are equipped with a seat that is plugged into the mains electricity.

At their most basic, they simply get warm and spray warm water for rinsing, while at the other end they boast motion sensors, high-power odour-neutralisers and variable water jets, all tailored to conserve energy and water.

The nation’s bidet seats have won the hearts of the rich and famous, including Madonna and Will Smith, who have both sung their praises.

The seats are also among the most popular items targeted by Chinese tourists, ranking alongside high-spec rice cookers and cosmetics.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: August 27, 2015 04:00 AM

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