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The Mysterious Sound Princess In Japanese Women’s Restrooms

By Asian American in Tokyo | June 8, 2006

Take a look at the photos below. Have you ever seen these devices? All Japanese women have.

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This device is called the "sound princess" and comes in various models. What does it do? That takes some explanation.

Japanese women are well-known for their modesty. Despite the fact that Japan often has restroom stalls with floor-to-ceiling walls and doors, they still don't want anyone in the area knowing they are sitting on the toilet doing their "business". Up until the 1980s, Japanese women using public restrooms would continuously flush the toilet to cover up sounds of their… well, urination noises. Tokyo alone is home to more than 10 million people, so let's say that's roughly 5 million women. That's a lot of continuous flushing and a lot of wasted water! To address this problem, toilet companies created a device that makes an electronically-generated flushing noise, so the "sound cover" effect is accomplished without wasting water. It's activated by a motion sensor, though I'm not exactly sure how this works because I've never been in a Japanese womens' restroom.

Hmm, I'm at the office late tonight and nobody's around, so maybe I'll do some investigation…

It must be really weird for non-Japanese women to see this when using Japanese restrooms for the first time. Talk about a crazy solution to a problem that needs a lot of explanation! But hey, it works. Check out the savings below.

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Topics: Culture, Technology | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “The Mysterious Sound Princess In Japanese Women’s Restrooms”

  1. Stephanie Says:
    March 12th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    It would be nice if something like this would come to America. It’s not like women here are any less modest, just we are forced to be otherwise. I know that I used to DEPISE public restrooms because of that and used to wait until someone else flushed to go.

  2. Ashley Lg Says:
    June 6th, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    That would be wonderful here in america,
    its always so awkward for someone to hear you, and its a bit disgusting to hear others in the restroom as well

  3. dustin Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    that is silly. toilets are made to be used, and if anyone sees you going into the bathroom they will know what you are doing. men often have to deal with urinals that desplay everything to the casual passerby. i doubt women are naturally more modest. also, why use a flushing sound? there has to be a more effective noise canceling sound.

  4. Mike Says:
    January 25th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Why is there no music to block the sound of men hocking and spitting into the urinals?

    Btw, these sound devices aren’t just in women’s toilets in Japan. I’ve been in one that had music before!

  5. Laura Says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 3:41 am

    i agree with dustin. going to the bathroom is something no one should be ashamed about — why should you try to pretend you don’t pee or crap?? it’s just absurd. and it seems to me strange that japanese women are so modest, since, before wwii, mixed bathhouses were all the rage….

  6. waraporn Chanpian Says:
    June 26th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Sound Princess used in rest room ?????????????

  7. fred Says:
    November 29th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    it’s about modesty/civility folks…get a clue…
    courtesy flush please

  8. Ace-Kun Says:
    May 8th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Just let out a Huge Fart, and everyone will go outside. :3

  9. LIST: 5 Common Responses to Awkwardness (That Make Things Worse) « 43 The Block Says:
    September 13th, 2011 at 7:21 am

    [...] Tokyo360.net The Sound Princess, a very real thing. [...]

  10. Surprising Things about Toilets « fibermom Says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 11:05 am

    [...] toilet scientists use to simulate human waste for experimental purposes. We learn about the Sound Princess. We learn about the marketing miracle that led to Japan’s totally modern toilets when the rest [...]

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