Pit toilets came into widespread use over the following centuries. In the thirteenth century the Japanese, who were largely a farming people, began to use the waste taken out of these toilets as fertilizer
The earliest known toilets in Japan date back about 1,300 years. Excavations have uncovered pits that were used as toilets, as well as more advanced toilets consisting of a ditch carrying water through part of the house to convey the waste outdoors. Since ancient times, there also existed toilets built over running streams. These types can be considered a primitive form of flush toilets.
Pit toilets came into widespread use over the following centuries. In the thirteenth century the Japanese, who were largely a farming people, began to use the waste taken out of these toilets as fertilizer.
The remains of 50 toilets were found in Fujiwarakyo (present-day Kashihara, Nara Prefecture), the capital of Japan from 694 to 710. They were of two types: simple holes in the ground and primitive “flush” toilets set over specially dug gutters. Both types were constructed in such a way that their users faced north.
In the old days, human waste was collected and used for fertilizer. Excrement was considered so valued that landowners owned the rights to it not the renters who produced it. Renters however did own the rights to their urine. Excrement was saved, stored in tanks and was classified into five grades in accordance with suitability for fertilizer. The waste of rich people was regarded as the best because their diet was better. The lowest grade came from prisons. Farmers continued to collect human waste from the cities until the 1930s. Some merchants made deals with farmers to exchange their waste for eggplants and white radishes.
Plumbing and toilets were not widely used until after the Great Tokyo earthquake in 1923 when they importance sanitation to reduce disease was realized. After World War II, Western toilets became more widespread. Toto and other companies borrowed technology from France, the United States and Switzerland and, as the Japanese have done with other technologies, improved it and adapted it their own purpose.
One idea that Toto developed that didn’t pan out was the female urinal, a cone-like devise that rose from the floor. Several hundred were made in the 1950s and 60s. One of the last remain ones can be seen in Japan’s National Stadium, built for the 1964 Summer Olympics. Japanese inventors had been experimenting with women’s urinals for some time. Nineteenth-century earthenware models were shaped like open umbrellas.
In 1977, shipments of Western-style toilets overtook Asian-style ones for the first time. The manufacturing of squat style toilets ended in 2003.
Toto imported a bidet-toilet , called Wash Air Seat from American Bidet Co, in 1964. Two years later it produced its own version. In 1980 Toto introduced the Washlet. An advertising campaign for the new toilet in 1982 featured an actress in a flower-print skirt who thrust her rear toward the screen while a song went: “Bottoms want to get washed too.” The ads and the toilets---inspired by American and European toilets with bidets intended for haemorrhoid sufferers and medical use---were a big success. Imported toilets from Switzerland had been available before that but they cost ¥480,000 the cost of a car. As of 2005, Toto has sold 20 million Washlets and sells about 3 million a year.
From Squat To Not?
Japan has launched a campaign to convert unpopular Asian-style squat toilets into sit-on “western” models, as the nation prepares to welcome tens of millions of foreign tourists in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The high-tech country is famous for its toilet technology that can bewilder foreign visitors, with features ranging from seat warming to bidet functions – with variable pressure.
But to the surprise of some and the dismay of many caught short, several toilets in public places are traditional “squatting” facilities.
About 40% of toilets at 4,000 locations in popular tourist spots are “squatters”, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
The government is offering to shoulder one-third of the costs to install sit-on types, complete with the bidet function expected of a Japanese toilet, officials said.
A survey by major toilet-maker TOTO has found more than eight out of 10 foreign tourists prefer sit-on types, said Akihiko Yamakoshi, an official at the government’s Japan Tourism Agency.
“As we aim to receive 40 million foreign visitors (a year), we want them to enjoy touring Japan with as little stress as possible,” he told AFP.Some foreign tourists simply do not know how to use old Japanese-style toilets while others complain they are unsanitary, he said.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan has been hitting records in recent years. More than 26 million foreign tourists visited Japan in the 11 months of 2017, already exceeding the annual record of 24 million set in 2016.
The government aims to boost the number to 40 million by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games.
The toilet conversion is mainly designed for foreign tourists but it could also help elderly Japanese who may have difficulty in squatting down, said Yamakoshi.
The Sewage Side Of Things
To improve environment of residential areas and public toilets, municipalities have quickly constructed sewerage system over the past 50 years.
Now, sewerage system covers 80% of Japanese households.
Recycling of sewage sludge
•The lives of Japanese citizens has greatly improved, but they no longer use the original excreta recycling system.
• Recycling of sewage sludge has increased.
• Sewage sludge utilized as fertilizer, fuel or construction materials
. • It is important to make these more cost-effective.
A land known for its creative beauty and artistic landscape, Japan’s sewer system stands apart from any other in the world. The most striking example can be found in the city of Saitama, which features a storm sewer system that is a true work of art.
Typhoons are a dreaded occurrence in this part of the world and to reduce the onslaught of their destruction, the sewer system of Saitama has some unique features.
Its construction includes giant concrete silos, which are 65 metres (213 feet) tall and 32 metres (105 feet) wide. They are connected by 6.4 kilometers (almost 4 miles) of underground tunnels that lie 50 meters (about 164 feet) below the city’s surface. The sewer system also has a giant tank with 59 concrete columns
The construction of this incredible urban infrastructure began in 1992 and it is open to tourists. The result of centuries of practice, Japan’s first sewage system dates back more than 2,000 years.
Some 1300 years ago, the city of Heijo-kyo had a drainage system network that ran throughout its borders and five centuries ago, a stone culvert, called the Taiko Sewerage, was built around Osaka Castle and is still in use today.
The Kanda Sewerage, which was built in the Kanda area of Tokyo in 1884, represents the first modern sewerage system in Japan. It wasn’t until the end of World War II, however, that it became a national project to initiate the construction of sewerage systems throughout Japan.
In many countries, sewers are a neglected aspect of a nation’s infrastructure, but not in Japan where storm sewer systems are a work of art.
Since 1958 when Sewerage Law was enacted, sewage works have quickly become widespread and many organizations have been established.
Main Points of Sewerage Law in Japan
• Local governments are primarily responsible for public sewage works.
• National government directs local governments, and provides national grants and loans for construction.
• Ordinances under the law provide fundamental technical standards.
When sewer is constructed, service area must be made known to the public.
• Building-owners in sewer service area must connect their buildings to sewer.
• Highly concentrated wastewater from industries is regulated to protect sewerage facilities and water quality
• Sewage works administration has the right to let officials inspect private facilities connected to sewer if necessary.
• Basic rules regarding sewage service charges are laid out in this law.
• The details of sewage service charges for each municipality are stipulated by local ordinances.
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