Home > Slice of Life, Yuri > The Most Unexpectedly Advanced Technology in Hokkaido

The Most Unexpectedly Advanced Technology in Hokkaido

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve just returned from my trip to Hokkaido, Japan, and I must remark that I had a great time. The scenery was beautiful (I have a new wallpaper for my cell phone), the food was terrific (I’m going to need to burn off a lot of calories), and the overall experience was great. This being said, I still regret a little incident in a shopping mall over the JR station in Sapporo: Two cute high school girls in front of us got onto an escalator and instantly realized they were traveling in the wrong direction. So, giggling, they held hands, scrambled back up the escalator, and skipped off.

And the only thing I could think of was: WHY DID I NOT HAVE MY CAMERA READY

…Ahem.

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting very much technology-wise when I came to Hokkaido. This is by no means a put-down towards Hokkaido – again, I maintain this is a great part of Japan – but it’s just that when you are surrounded by kilometers and kilometers of farmland and mountains, and when there are several segments along the highway where you can’t get a mobile signal, then one also must acknowledge that one is in a very rural place that can be jokingly described as “in the middle of nowhere”. Still, Hokkaido was rather well developed, and I took a bit of effort to look for the latest in Japanese gizmo wizardry. And nowhere did I find a piece of technology so surprisingly advanced than in the corner of the restroom of my lodgings in Niseko.

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This is a toilet. Most Japanese toilets since years ago – to my knowledge – have already been equipped with bidets. For all you North Americans who don’t know what a bidet is, it is essentially a water spray under the toilet seat that helps clean the holes between your legs when you’re done doing your business. It saves on tissue paper, and some people feel it more comfortable.

So I needed to use this particular toilet on my first night’s stay here. And when I first turned on the light, stepped in, and reached for the lid of the toilet, said lid suddenly automatically opened with a mechanical whir before I had a chance to reach it. Mildly bewildered, I looked up and realized there was a motion sensor on the roof. So, a little bit awkwardly, I sat down…and realized the seat was warm. Because the seat was electronically heated from the inside. Of course.

After I finished relieving myself, I looked to the options I had on my right. All the buttons were listed in Japanese, but I understood enough of it to make out that there were buttons that controlled the strength of the water coming out of the bidet, and where it aimed (because people sit on different parts of the toilet seat). There were two separate options, one for the anus, and another for the vagina; they also came in two different modes, one that seemed to spray at maximum blast for maximum cleanliness, and another that alternated between strong and weak currents labeled “massage” in Japanese.

Being the cowardly gaijin that I am, I opted to go for the normal bidet functions.

So when I finished using the bidet, I noticed that there was another button marked “dry”. Not entirely sure what it was, I pressed it…

…and a blow dryer starts blowing warm air from under the toilet seat to dry off the aftereffects of the bidet water. At which point I just sort of awkwardly sat there and wondered, “Japan, are you for real?”

(Speaking of air current applications on a toilet, there is apparently another button that opens a vacuum under the toilet seat. For, apparently, if your crap really just stinks too much.)

There were two other buttons labeled “big” and “small”, which were buttons that dictated how much water was flushed depending if you urinated or defecated, as well as buttons that dictated the placement of the toilet seat and the lid. I’m in the habit of putting down both before flushing the toilet, but just as I stand up and start pulling up my pants, the lid of the toilet suddenly automatically closes behind me, and the toilet flushes itself. All while I looked back and kind of gave the toilet this “but I haven’t done anything yet” look.

The toilet didn’t look back or respond. I suppose I wouldn’t have been surprised if it did. But if it did, I only assume it would shrug.

And that was possibly the most unexpectedly advanced piece of technology I saw in Hokkaido.

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Categories: Slice of Life, Yuri
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