Toto Ltd., Japan's leading toilet manufacturer, announced today that it was offering free repairs for a defect that had been identified in its popular "Z Series" toilets. The company said that the defect, related to the toilets' electrical systems, may cause the toilets to catch fire. Company spokeswoman Emi Tanaka said that 29 incidents had been reported in the past year, three of which involved actual fires and the others involving large quantities of smoke.
You may remember Toto Ltd. from its prior development of "photocatalytic organic decomposition technology," though more recently it has focused on "super hydrophilic photocatalyst technology," which is way better.
It also makes toilets.
If it seems strange that a toilet would have an "electrical system" at all, you're obviously not an owner of a high-end Toto toilet, or "washlet" as it is more properly known. The Toto Z-Series washlet (which, if the research department has done its job correctly, is sold as the "S400" in the U.S.) incorporates a number of high-tech, 21st-century features that make it so much more than your current Mark 1 Hydraulic Dung Transport Device. In particular, the S400 features automatic flush, a "sensor-activated lid that automatically lifts as you approach the toilet and lowers as you walk away," a heated seat, an automatic air purifier, a bidet attachment that provides "front and rear washing," warm-air drying with three temperature settings, and something called a "massage feature," which I refuse to investigate any further. While I'm glad that so many of the exhausting chores connected with elimination have finally been eliminated, there is still a lot of room for improvement. I assume that the S401 will be able to sense when I need to go and just come get it, sparing me the time-wasting trek to the bathroom in the first place.
The bidet attachment appears to be the culprit in the recent fires, which is quite disturbing. "At your command," according to the company website, "an integrated, self-cleaning nozzle extends to release a warm, soothing stream of aerated water to provide the ultimate in personal cleansing." The feature is "designed to introduce you to a level of unprecedented comfort," but, it appears, may also occasionally introduce your ass to an unprecedented level of fire.
Tanaka pointed out, however, that this was only a case of a manufacturing defect, and that no one had been injured by the problem. "Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries," she said. She added, helpfully, that had you been using such a toilet when the defect manifested itself, "the fire would have been just under your buttocks."
Toto says it will repair any of the 180,000 affected units (the washlets, I mean), which were those manufactured and sold in Japan between May 1996 and December 2001.