The development of the toilet and the treatment of excrement in Japan are closely linked to a growing mechanization of the lavatory as a device and its progressive shift vis-à-vis the house from outdoors to indoors. In the Edo and early Meji Periods toilets were located at the edge of or outside the house. Conceived as a squat-latrine system, made out of wood, it was adapted for the easy collection of the excrement, which was then used as fertilizer. Between the World Wars, new systems, new materials, and even new toilets (for instance toilet bowls) were slowly introduced, while the collection of sewage became more and more mechanized, with basket collection being successively replaced by trucks, then mobile vacuum-extraction units, and later still by a Western type of sewage system with pipes. In recent years the predominant European-based device has become hyper-Japanized, highly automated (including washing, drying, background noise, cleaning, disinfecting, etc.), and even described and praised as something kawaii (cute, adorable) in the public narrative.
Irena AtkovskaJunho KimKan TongMalou Mamaty
Thing of Modernity – Mapping the Micro-geography of Everyday Environments