I’ve written a whole proper (?) article on the matter, mainly showing the similarities between how the Japanese adapt English words and how English speakers adapt Japanese words. More similar than you might think!
November 10, 2010 at 11:26 am (Japanese toilets and toilet habits)
I imagine the heated toilet seats came first, because if so they’d be the only heating in the average Japanese toilet. If so, there would’ve had to be a power supply to the toilet, and after that the other bells and whistles* probably just came along typical kaizen-style as “obvious” little additions until by and by “It’s a toilet, Jim, but not as we know it”
* In case you haven’t tried a Japanese toilet and believe that they probably have everything, what with “crazy Japan” and “high tech Japan”, they don’t have actual bells and whistles. Bird song occasionally, but no bells or whistles as far as I know…
It could just be the famous Japanese service and attention to detail, but I noticed the other day that it isn’t both back doors but only the pavement side one. I wonder if they have to have it by law in order to stop people getting out of taxis into the street
“Obviously the Japanese eye is see the color differently than to foreigner. To you is is green, but to us it is called ‘blue’ or ‘aoi’. The blue means, ‘sorry, you will have to be out in the blue coldness for a while longer’ and the red color means, ‘welcome to the warm inside our taxi!'”
More seriously, I’d always assumed it was because red gets your attention, but it still seems silly to me. Alternatively, maybe it is red for warning, getting you ready for the shock of how much you will have to pay.
They don’t do that badly- but we are talking about an education-obsessed country that has a far bigger economy than the UK, and the UK does a lot better. Explanations I have heard include young research high flyers leaving Japan for countries where they don’t have their supervisor putting only their name on their research for the first thirty years, not being able to attract similar talent from other countries, not getting lots of money from alumni, and language problems with getting published in the big (usually English language) journals.
I don’t know if these surveys can actually take the education people receive there into account, but the vast majority of the (few) Japanese I know who went to top universities seem totally incapable of imaginative thought and particularly ignorant of the world outside their chosen area- much more so than people in the junior college that I worked in. Of course, that might well have been forced out of them by the preparation to get into those universities and so not necessarily the fault of the unis themselves.