Limitations and Innovation (The Japanese Bath)

Now the Japanese toilet has been talked about a lot. There are also videos out there on it (including real demos). Everyone knows the level of innovation that the Japanese have taken toilet technology. What most miss out is… the WHY.

(If you have no idea what so special about Japanese toilets, there is an interesting video out there at

My first visit to Japan was in 1999. Even then, their toilets were already amazing and people are already taking pictures of the toilets. Well not much has changed since then.

The thing that got me thinking on this trip to Osaka was the bath facilities in my Airbnb Bathapartment. When I looked at the bathroom, it reminded me very much of the set up at an onsen.

Just like at an onsen, there is even a low stool to sit down for washing. The shelves and even the taps are at a level just nice when you sit on the stool. That is the pre-washing part before you get into the real onsen.

Next comes the actual bath. The bath tub is very well designed with a neck rest and even cotubmes with temperature control for the water.  I just wished I understand enough Japanese to figure out how to fully control it.

The shower room is also temperature controlled with options to dry, cool, heat or just ventilate (fan) the shower room. You can even set the options to a timer.

As I think about the toilet and shower room in my Airbnb unit, I am thinking about the traditional Japanese culture. They are so tied to their traditional ways, that even in modernisation, they are finding ways to tie back to culture. They recognised the limitations and they found ways to bring them back.

(If anyone is interested to check out the Airbnb unit I stayed at in Osaka, you can check this out

Space is scarce, so the toilets are much smaller. To overcome the tight space, they innovated their toilets that allow themselves to be clean in even tight spaces.

As they move into cities, it does not make sense to keep going back to bath houses. So they innovated in their shower rooms.

So for the rest of us, are we using our limitations and challenges to inspire us to innovate?





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