As proud products of the great State of Kansas, Dorothy’s little Dog, Toto, and the movie, Wizard of Oz, put Kansas on the map. Now, in a startling discovery during a second visit to Japan after 52 years, Toto’s reputation has grown to national prominence, and fulfills a role throughout Japan that boggles the imagination. Toto’s rise to prominence in Japan was not fully appreciated until after our arrival in Nagasaki in April, 2009.
Landing in Tokyo in mid-afternoon, we transferred to Haneda Airport where most domestic flights originate. This hour-long bus ride revealed Toto’s prominence through huge signs on high-rise buildings and retail establishments alike. Exactly what-all Toto was up to in Japan was certainly not clear at this point. Arriving in Nagasaki, our final destination, in late evening did little to unravel the mystery, but Toto was on display everywhere.
After an exciting reunion at the Nagasaki Airport with the Nakirimoto family, we were escorted to their lovely traditional home on the mountainside overlooking the bay north of the Nagasaki peninsula. There we were re-introduced to Japan’s still fascinating culture where Toto acquired prominence as magnificent as the Great Buddha.
Entering their traditional home we were greeted by the customary shoe mezzanine, pictured here. Nobody wears shoes in the traditional Japanese home, so all shoes are stored just inside the front, side, or rear door. As may be seen, two pairs are stored on the floor, and many dozen pairs may be seen stored neatly on the shelves of this wall unit with sliding doors.
Undoubtedly the Japanese can explain in some detail why this tradition is widely practiced throughout the country, and the ladies love it.
This storage unit is not Toto, although it might well have been.
After depositing our shoes at the door, we were shown our three-room guest suite. The front room was a sun-room with access to the small garden in front of the house. The back room was our bedroom pictured here with two single beds, Japanese style. The beds are futons which provide two inches of cushion above the floor of inlaid tatami mats.
After many days of achieving the posture needed to arrive on these beds, we became quite accomplished at both raising and lowering ourselves to sleep.
These beds are futons on tatami. They are not Toto, but they might have been.
The middle room in our suite was our living room, dressing room, storage room, and all-purpose room. On the outside wall was the traditional tokonoma, or beauty spot pictured here. The only furniture in the room was a heavy duty coffee table where we sat, changed clothes, and stored everything requiring storage off the floor.
This is not Toto, but it might have been.
The magnificent character sitting in the tokonoma is a mighty warrior which is given to the oldest son of the family on his first birthday. Up close it resembled Bugs Bunny complete with long ears, but the implements of war and body armor reveal his true character.
This, as it turns out, was not Toto either, but you can bet there is one of these characters in every traditional Japanese home.
You can rest assured that Toto is nearby.
Across a small hallway we found Toto. Toto is a full featured, heavy-duty, porcelain appliance with both electric and hydraulic operations that warm the cockles of your heart and other body parts. As you may see, this model plugs into a wall socket, and comes with a control panel on the right side while seated. Toto is found in all modern homes and commercial buildings throughout Japan.
Only a few of the many features will be described. While the Japanese are not concerned with well-heated homes, they have discovered that a well-heated toilet seat provides both confidence and comfort, specially on a cold night. Every Toto that I checked radiated a stimulating warm environment which certainly might enhance the job at hand while seated.
Whatever the job, the control panel as displayed offered an assortment of options for finishing the job in style. What is not shown is the mechanical appliance that, when activated, slips under your working parts and performs certain magic functions at the touch of a button.
While I can not speak for the ladies, Toto’s magic functions were somewhat frightening to me, and while visiting Toto on numerous occasions throughout Japan, I never had the courage to find out personally, what all Toto did.
I also discovered, following rather explicit instructions, that some functions are encouraged with reckless abandon. Here I am eating long strings of noodles with chop sticks, while issuing a slurping sound that only a Japanese mother can fully appreciate.
I also learned that having a Toto around every corner, there was no need to worry about cleaning up the remnants. Toto is eminently capable, warm and tidy throughout modern Japan.
Dorothy’s little dog can’t hold a stick to what Toto in Japan achieves.