What would modern life be like without the humble toilet? Actually, we’d rather not think about that.

Many of us around the world should direct our thanks to TOTO Ltd., the world’s largest manufacturer of toilets and the very company that invented the washlet. In fact, Friday, August 28 marked the grand opening of the new TOTO Museum in Fukuoka Prefecture, where the company was originally founded in 1917.

Takashi Harada, our Japanese reporter who proclaims that he couldn’t survive a day without a washlet, immediately made a bee line to the new sanctuary to give thanks to the toilet gods and to learn a bit about the historical evolution of the toilet.

■ A new museum in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture

The TOTO Museum opened its doors on the premises of TOTO’s headquarters in Kokurakita Ward, Kitakyushu City, in anticipation of the company’s 100th anniversary in 2017. The smooth, round, porcelain-white museum exterior is reminiscent of a clean bathroom. This sight only made Harada feel more excited about what amazing knowledge he was about to learn upon entering.

▼ The entrance to the TOTO Museum


▼ The stylish and spacious interior


Inside, the museum houses a variety of products historically significant to the company, and Harada was surprised to learn that TOTO actually produced tableware until operations were suspended in 1970. Many people don’t know this tidbit about the company’s history since today it’s so firmly equated with the toilet business.

■ The history of home appliances which use plumbing

TOTO has now spent nearly a century making quality products indispensable to our daily lives. The museum showcases the various manufacturing ideas of successive generations of passionate company presidents, and you can learn a lot from the displays about the company’s role in the history of household appliances making use of plumbing. The museum’s space is fully utilized and organized in an easy-to-understand way which shows how toilets have changed with the times.


Out of all of the products, Harada was most fascinated by the toilets equipped with integrated washlets. From learning about the days before effective drainage systems were put in place to the days of toilets with button-control panels, you can’t help but be impressed by the development of modern technology. Perhaps elderly visitors will feel a twinge of nostalgia upon seeing the older models.

Let’s take a stroll through Harada’s pictures to see some of the neat products on exhibit at the museum! 


▼ An inscription about the history of TOTO


▼ A TOTO bike


▼ You can check each individual part within this semi-transparent toilet.


▼ Historical company presidents and their inspirational quotes


▼ People use toilets every day without a second thought, but few realize how one is constructed.


▼ Decades of toilets


▼ Various designs of urinals


▼ Of course, there’s more than just toilets.


▼ TOTO is now a globalized company. Here are some products being sold in China…


▼ Asia Oceania…


▼ Europe…


▼ …and in the Americas. It’s interesting how the shapes of the products vary from country to country.


▼ TOTO’s official Certificate of Mechanical Engineering Heritage for Washlet G (Toilet Seat with Shower Unit). Washlets everywhere, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


■ The first unit bath implemented in Japan is also on display

From start to finish, toilet lovers won’t be disappointed by their time in the museum, and they shouldn’t forget to check out the unit bathroom as well. Nowadays, it’s completely normal for hotels and studio apartments to come equipped with unit baths, and you can track their evolution over the past 50 years with one interesting exhibit.


Of special significance on display is Japan’s first unit bathroom which was created for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It was relocated from the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward and is a definite must-see at the museum.

■ An unusual learning experience

The museum’s grand opening appeared to be a major success, despite being on a weekday, as there was a steady stream of visitors throughout the entire day. The museum is anticipating an estimated 20,000 yearly, and up to 85,000 for all the facilities and company headquarters combined.

TOTO’s products have had an undeniable impact on our modern lives. Why not learn about the history of your own bathroom by stopping by the TOTO Museum the next time you’re in Kitakyushu?

Museum Information
Address: 2-1-1 Nakashima, Kokurakita, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 802-8601
〒802-8601 北九州市小倉北区中島2-1-1
Phone number: 093-951-2534
Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Last admission: 16:30)
Closed: Mondays, year-end/New Year’s holidays, summer vacation period
Admission: Free
English-language website

Source: TOTO Museum
All images © RocketNews24
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