Tag Archives: japan

4 June 2017 in Toilets | Stories from New Zealand, Japan, China, South Africa, the US, the UK and Ireland

Welcome to the new format – from now on every Sunday I’ll be posting all of the internet’s best toilet stories from the last week. I imagine you’ve missed me lots.


Let’s start in New Zealand, with a story about a policeman keeping his job. TVNZ reports on the story of a “highly trained” police officer, whose job is to protect the New Zealand Prime Minister and other VIPs, who kept his job after a disciplinary process. He was using the public toilet in parliament and put his loaded Glock pistol down and then forgot to pick it up. An hour and a half later, when he was on his way back, having realised he’d forgotten his gun, it was discovered by a member of the public. Luckily, no harm was done.


Breaking News reports that Sober Lane, a pub in my home city of Cork, has installed a “Snapchat machine” in the ladies’ toilets, so women on a night out can record their toilet fun and drunk group selfies on the pub’s Snapchat story. I’m sure nothing at all will go wrong.


The ladies’ toilet Snapchat Machine  – photo from BreakingNews.ie


Angry commuter stories make me happy. Angry commuters pissing in plastic bottle stories are amazing. Read this story in the East Anglian Daily Times to experience the anger of rail passengers stuck on a train that only had working toilets in half of the carriages. It does sound inconvenient, as they had to get off the train and get back on another carriage in order to access the toilets, so I’m not not on the passengers’ side. But I still find the idea of the people of East Anglia angrily pissing into bottles on a train quite funny.


Now, a story from the Sowetan Live, about a man who has an amazing name and amazing hair. There is apparently a singer  and reality TV star called Papa Penny Penny. Imagine being called Papa Penny Penny and not being a reality TV star. Anyway, the story goes that he once worked as a toilet cleaner. He told a show called Real Talk that “some people would just do their deeds beside [instead of inside] the toilet pot but I just cleaned”. Poor Papa Penny Penny.



Papa Penny Penny – photo from Sowetan Live


Now to China, where a news story in This Week in Asia appears to be trying to make Japan’s good toilets as much of a problem as China’s bad ones. The story tells of the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, when the city’s many dirty, smelly and old-fashioned toilets had to be renovated before the Games started. It compares this situation to Japan’s amazing toilets, thought to be the best in the world, and lists some of the advantages of Japan’s toilets, with their automated functions, heated seats, built-in bidets and washing functions and even the ability to measure blood pressure or analyse urine content. It claims that before the Olympics come to Japan 2020, the Japanese will have a similar problem because competitors and crowds from around the world won’t be able to figure out how to use the loos there. You should mainly read this story for the amazing photos of Japanese toilets, two of which I include here.


This is a photo of Inax’s (a Japanese firm) flagship toilet at a Shanghai expo. Imagine having a flagship toilet. Photo from This Week in Asia, credited AFP. 


A man wearing a poo-shaped hat climbs a giant toilet slide at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. Amazing. Photo from This Week in Asia, credited AFP.


Finally to San Francisco, and a story from Business Insider (which is basically Buzzfeed in a suit) about a journalist who tries a Japanese toilet. It’s not just any Japanese toilet. It’s apparently “the Mercedes Benz of toilets” and it costs $10,200. To be honest, that’s too much to spend on an actual Mercedes Benz. She said the toilet was nice, but unsurprisingly she also said that it wasn’t ten thousand dollars nice.



A toilet tragedy in China, an 11-year-old sanitation champion and an end to Japanese squatters

Today’s Metro has a story about Yulin in the North-east of China, where a toilet exploded, killing one person and injuring seven others. A lot of fecal matter at the toilet had allowed for a build-up of toxic hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and methane, which exploded on New Year’s Eve. China’s regional authorities have started investing in modernisation of toilet facilities across the country.


The scene of the explosion – photo from Welbo via Metro


In some Indian schools, lack of toilets is a reason why girls stop attending when they turn 11. One schoolgirl from Jamshedpur was shocked by this and decided to make a difference. Swachh India reports that  Mondrita Chatterjee saved her pocket money and pestered adults for contributions until she had collected 24,000 rupee and used it to build two toilets in her village, the first two toilets ever in the village, serving 350 people. She has been named a “Sanitation Champion” by the local authority.


Mondrita Chatterjee and the toilets in progress – from Swachh India


And finally to Japan, where Japan Today reports that there are demands to replace traditional squat toilets in schools with more Western-style toilets. Most Japanese homes now have Western-style toilets, but some people believe that public buildings should have squat toilets as, according to the Japan National Toilet Research Laboratory, some people won’t want to touch the toilet with their bums after others have. This is contradicted by anecdotal evidence that public buildings with both squat toilets and Western-style toilets will often have queues only for the Western-style ones, so it is unlikely that progress will be halted.


A traditional Japanese squat toilet – from Japan Today


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Christmassy blocked sewers, cat poo and how to use a Japanese toilet

Stop flushing weird things, people. The Derby Telegraph reports that Severn Trent are asking people not to flush their Christmas presents down the toilet. Is this not obvious? The released details of strange items that were recovered from the sewers at Christmas, including motorbike parts, underwear and a pair of Muppet slippers. Stop it, people of Derby.


Underwear recovered from the sewers by Severn Trent – from the Derby Telegraph


I’ve noticed an increase in stories about cats using human toilets in the news recently, if you’re someone who follows these things. (I can’t be the only one.) The Lexington Herald Leader reports on an invention by Elizabeth Stone, “The Purrfect Potty”, a device that clamps onto a regular toilet seat and allows cats to poo there. To be honest, I find this more creepy than useful, but different strokes for different folks I guess.


A cat using the Purrfect Potty – from the Lexington Herald Leader


Finally today, an amazing video from a Japanese telecommunications company on how to use Japanese toilets. It shows you how to wipe yourself after squatting, how to position oneself when using a bidet jet and how to clean your smartphone. I enjoyed the video so much, I’ve watched it three times already.


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Japanese toilet paper, Indian urinals, Nando’s and a baptist church, Danger in McDonalds, awful Instagrammers and a baby kangaroo

We start with a picture tweeted by Joel Hensley of toilet paper for old people in Japan, which has been printed with warnings about scammers and criminals.


Japanese toilet paper – from @gryphtor on Twitter


This story from the Times of India outlines the shortage of women’s toilets in Pune, including the installation of new mobile toilets with panic buttons. It’s easy to get angry that toilets are still such dangerous places for so many women. (More on that below.)

The new toilets aim to address the following problem:

Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 12.21.45.png

From the Times of India

(lakh = 100,000)

I don’t quite understand what a urinal is in India.


In other Indian news, @DGNewsClips on Twitter reports that thousands of new toilets have been announced in New Delhi, in a “toilet inauguration spree”. I like the idea of a toilet inauguration spree. I only ever heard of “shopping sprees” and “killing sprees” before.  I like the idea of politicians rushing from toilet to toilet inaugurating with gay abandon.


In the first of two stories about UK councils’ public toilets, Oxford won a prize for the best toilets in the UK. I’m only including this story for the amazing photo in the Oxford Mail of the council staff receiving the award. Look at all those men and how bad they are at smiling.

Toilet Awards.JPG.gallery.jpg

From the Oxford Mail


Also in the UK, Camden Council in London are closing public toilets and replacing them by paying local businesses to allow the public to use their toilets. According the Ham and High, the council is saving money by closing three public toilets and paying 12 businesses £750 each to let the public in. The council will also advertise for these businesses. In the name of providing a public service, the council are now paying NANDO’S and a Baptist Church to let people pee. Nando’s. And a church.


Another case of women being infringed on in toilets in the Ipswich Star, where it is reported that a man was convicted of helping his colleague, called “Danger”, to install a camera in women’s toilets in McDonald’s where they were working. His lawyer insisted that he only did so because of the threats from Danger and not for his own sexual gratification, which is the reason it was treated as a minor offence. He’s been banned from every McDonalds in the UK, and given a 12-month community order, as well as 150 hours of unpaid work and a fine.


People find lots of ways to be awful. “Rich Kids of UK” on Instagram posted this photo. Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 14.17.13.png


And finally, we turn to toilet roll, children and animals. This DIY/parenting blog suggests toddler-proofing toilet paper with an elastic band.

And then there’s this video of a baby kangaroo discovering the joys of toilet roll.

Discriminatory toilets, no such thing as a free tampon, eavesdropping in toilets, daughters vs toilets, composting loos and a toilet museum

Dan Savage at The Stranger writes about a vote in Houston, Texas. The electorate voted to repeal an-anti LGBT discrimination law. The reason the repeal campaign gave for wanting permission to discriminate was so that it could prevent “men” from using women’s toilets and locker rooms, that transgender women are really men in disguise and they pose a threat to women in toilets and showers. It seems a far-fetched idea to me, but it’s an idea that won in Texas. Access to toilets is one of the biggest fights the trans community is fighting at the moment, and moves like this make it seem like it could be a long fight.

The Tab reports on a failed attempt to provide free emergency tampons in the University of Birmingham toilets. These were being used so quickly, with whole boxes disappearing almost instantly, that students in need will now have to request their free emergency tampon from the Student Advice and Representation Centre.


Free tampons – from The Tab

The Herald Sun proved what a classy paper it is by sending a reporter to eavesdrop on what rich women were saying to each other in the ladies’ toilets at the Melbourne Cup. Some of the things they heard: “I just dropped my sunglasses into the toilet.” “My Hollywood tape is stuck to my nipple and I’m too scared to rip it off … what if my whole nipple comes off?” and “I’m sick of my dress … do you want to swap?”

The Indian government’s Swachh Bharat campaign (to bring indoor toilets to the whole nation) has seen some success in Chattisgarh, according to a report in The Times of India. In Chattisgarh, a tribe of 10,000 in the Halba community have taken a vow that their daughters will not be married into houses without toilets.


A dry composting toilet in Ecuador – pic from Fundacion In Terris

The Washington Post is reporting from Ecuador, where the lack of a network of sewage lines has caused health problems and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has aided in the building of hundreds of dry composting toilets that don’t require access to sewage facilities or running water to function. According to the report, they don’t smell, are sanitary and cost less than $300 each.

Finally today, to Toilet Heaven AKA Japan, where a toilet museum is making the news. USA Today reports on displays about the history, construction and design of toilets, as well as exhibits of famous toilets. “Among the more notable exhibits are toilets built for Buckingham Palace and the Japanese prime minister’s residence, both in the 1920s. On display, too, is the plain bathroom suite used by MacArthur — with what appears to be a well-worn toilet — when he was the all-powerful ruler of Japan right after World War II.”


A display at Kitakyushu’s Toilet Museum – pic from USA Today

Toilets vs Smartphones, toilet politics, a waterless toilet and an instant bidet


The firefighters come to the rescue. (from Tigrigna)

We start with a story from last year that has resurfaced in my newsfeed from the Tigrigna site, all about a Chinese man who accidentally dropped his smartphone down the toilet and then reached down to get it back. Unfortunately, not only could he not reach his phone, but he got his arm stuck. This was a squat toilet, so he was essentially plunging his hand into a pit of poo. He was there for six hours until firefighters came, broke the tiles and the toilet and managed to extract him. It makes me queasy to even think about.

I don’t know a lot about Bhutan, but yesterday’s editorial in the Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel drew my attention to the politics of toilets there. The editor takes a stern tone on toilets, saying that even though locals don’t complain about them, tourists with US dollars frequently complained that there were no public toilet facilities and that they wouldn’t come back if this wasn’t changed. He concedes that if toilets were built for tourists, then they could also be used by Bhutanese, but in general, he takes a somewhat condescending tone with his fellow citizens, reproving them for the fact that they misuse the toilets they have, pointing to signs in public toilets reminding people to flush after themselves and  not to climb up and squat on Western-style toilets. It’s impossible for me not to feel some guilt as the West really has a massive array of ways of shaming the people of the developing world, infiltrating even how they view their own way of sitting on their toilets.

Staying in Asia, today’s Japan Times celebrates the launch of a new waterless toilet. It is not the first waterless biotoilet. However, it is the first one that deals satisfactorily with the smell of poo. By grinding your poo up with sawdust. It can be set up anywhere and its main use will be in emergencies like after a tsunami or an earthquake when it can be installed in a matter of minutes.

And our final story today also comes from Japan. Tushy was invented by a half-Japanese woman who had grown up with bidets and was disgusted by the American use of toilet paper. As she says, if a bird pooed on your face, you wouldn’t simply wipe it off with paper. You would wash it with water. Why are our bottoms any different? This was why she invented the Tushy, a clip-on bidet that makes any toilet Japanese.

A sleepy fan, an economist’s bladder, responsible protestors and toilets filled with interesting ideas

A team of firefighters were called to Barnsley FC when an alarm was activated by a man standing on the roof of a portakabin at the grounds on Saturday. The Daily Star reports that the man had fallen asleep on the toilets at half time. He had had “a few beers” and woke up seven hours after the match ended (Barnsley lost) and found the entire stadium locked up and in darkness. He climbed on top of a portakabin to seek help and found that he couldn’t get down. The Star interviewed a firefighter who said, “He had no shoes on and had lost his mobile phone and his hat. He was more bothered about his hat though. He seemed a smartly dressed lad.”

The Bangor Daily News (Bangor in Maine, not Bangor in Wales or Bangor in Northern Ireland) ran this blogpost by a retired economist who is infuriated by the lack of public toilet facilities in Maine now that his bladder is ageing. He posits that the new state motto should be “Maine – Just hold it!” He goes on to list various day trip destinations from Bangor and ranks them according to the quality and/or presence of their toilet facilities. He only gives the I-95 southbound on Newport an F. Apparently you would need to a trained guide to find a toilet there. On the other hand, he gives Schoodic Point an A grade, claiming that the toilet facility there “makes winter visits a treat for locals and tourists alike”, which is wonderful, but seems like an exaggerated importance on the value of toilets, and that’s coming from an actual toilet blogger.


Portable toilet on fire at the Fees Must Fall protest. (Picture from eNCA)

eNCA reports on students from South Africa, who are currently holding the largest protests in the country since the end of Apartheid in 1994. According to this report the student campaign “Fees must fall” has been remarkable for being so peaceful, in spite of its size. The writer of the story is impressed with the behaviour of the student protestors, who have been seen cleaning up after their protests and even organising study groups during the protests. When some portable toilets were damaged in one of the protests, some of the students even started a campaign to fundraise to pay for the damage done to the toilets, which you can donate to here.

Finally today, we look to that always satisfying source of toilet-related news, Japan, where the Japan News reports on the winner of the Japanese Toilet Grand Prix, which is run by the national government and apparently rewards “toilets filled with interesting ideas”.  The winning toilet was at Shinseiwadai Kindergarten in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, where, according to the article “small children frolicked with delight”. The toilet “features an objet d’art in the shape of an apple tree about one meter in diameter. Its branches stretch up to the ceiling, where a blue sky has been drawn. When the kindergartners enter the space, a sensor activates a cat, elephant and giraffe and music begins playing.” I have added it to my must-see list of toilets.


The winning kindergarten toilet (Picture from the Japan News).