Customers checking washlets in Shanghai.  Photo: Weibo
Customers checking washlets in Shanghai. Photo: Weibo

When Chinese President Xi Jinping recently ordered a nationwide clean-up targeting the nation’s putrid public toilets, party cadres quickly got to work. The country saw a rash of “showrooms” that displayed idealized creations with deodorant, piped-in music and even automatic flushing.

Reports say that Beijing this month issued rulings ordering restaurants to check toilets once every 15 minutes and to disinfect lavatory fixtures at least four times a day.

Xi’s clean toilet campaign has also set in motion sales of Japanese-style “washlets” – douche spray nozzles: more than five million of them were sold in 2017 according to a report by Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shinbun.

Photo: Weibo
Xi Jinping’s “toilet revolution” means a boost to washlet and bidet toilet sales in China. Photo: Weibo

In the showroom of one Japanese brand in Shanghai, a salesperson even drank a cup of water from the cleansing jet of the latest bidet-style toilet on display, to show the superior quality of the filtered water, according to a local paper.

Gold-plated, bidet toilets that featured in the Japan pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo drew huge attention, and before long Japanese washlets became a must-buy for Chinese tourists visiting the country.

There was even a news report about a Chinese women who reportedly stole a washlet from her hotel in Tokyo after she was so impressed by the cleansing nozzle’s “oscillating and massage mode”.

Japan’s embassy in Beijing has reportedly been in talks with Chinese officials about offering Japanese support for China’s toilet revolution, with participation of Japanese firms including the inventor of the washlet, Toto, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Read more: Deodorant, washlets and facial recognition in China’s toilets