“…they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:7b
Japan had a problem, so researchers and innovators solved it in a uniquely Japanese way—they invented the Otohime (Sound Princess) toilet accessory. Back in the 1980s, Japanese environmentalists were alarmed when they discovered that women across the country were wasting water in public restrooms by flushing the toilet multiple times in order to mask bodily noises. Initially, an education campaign to save on water was launched to solve this problem, but it had minimal impact. In response to this crisis, Toto, a major Japanese toilet manufacturer, developed a toilet noise masker, which helped women preserve their dignity and the country to conserve water. These simple electronic devices were initially mounted in bathroom stalls where the occupant could easily activate it by simply pressing a button, producing the equivalent sound of a flushing toilet. Soon, pocket-sized versions were sold that could be taken anywhere, which are now being replaced by a phone app that serves the same purpose.
This is only one example of how Japan remains on the cutting edge of toilet technology as the traditional “squatty potty,” once commonly used throughout the country, heads towards extinction and gives way to the multi-faceted “washlet toilet.” These modern bathroom marvels exhibit several functions, ranging from seat warmer, pulsating water jets for bidet and posterior wash, automatic lid opening, automatic flushing and a blow dryer. Some versions even play relaxing music for the user. It is predicted that more advanced models will soon include medical sensors that will be able to measure blood sugar, pulse, blood pressure and even the body fat of those sitting upon them. Talking toilets that greet the occupant and accept verbal commands are also in the development stage. Fortunately, most buttons on these ceramic wonders are now identified by pictograms, as earlier Japanese only models led to some rather comical situations for foreigners unable to decipher the instructions.
While we may admire such technology that deals with unpleasant situations, it certainly has its limits. Like Adam and Eve who vainly tried to hide their disobedience to God through makeshift clothing, all attempts to cover our sins before our Maker are comparable to a toilet noise masker. He is not deceived by what goes on behind the closed doors of our lives while we make futile efforts to preserve or promote a false virtuosity to others. Improved technology can certainly help prevent the wasting of water, but only full obedience and an open heart to the things of God can avert the wasting of our lives.