Posted by: Ian Rowley on February 19, 2008
It’s taken a generation, but according to data from Japan’s Cabinet Office, a remarkable 65% of Japanese homes now include toilets with electronic bidets. That’s up from 14% in 1992 when the government began collecting the data and zero before 1980 when Kyushu-based Toto began marketing the high-tech Washlet toilets, which usually also come equipped with heated seats and drying air jets. That’s great news for Toto and rival Inax, which control about 80% of the market between them in Japan.
Just as surprising, at least to me, is that outside of Japan and Korea, sales of the hygenic lavatories have never really taken off. In Japan, reports the Nihon Keizai daily, about 3.6 million electronic toilets are shipped each year and one million in Korea. The most expensive models, which can cost thousands of dollars, can self clean and conduct basic medical tests. Yet overseas, perhaps due to cost, concerns over electricity in bathrooms and less demand for heated toilet seats (a necessity here in Japan where few homes have central heating), remain few and far between. Toto reckons overseas sales account for just 10% of its business.