Amazing TOTO Museum of the Innovative Toilet
— Showing Toilet Revolution and its Impact to Social Life
♣ First Over View
The TOTO Co., a leading manufacturer of sanitary ware, has established a memorial museum named “TOTO museum” in 2015, as a commemoration of its 100 anniversary event. It was intended to spread the company’s history and products, and its technology. However, the museum is not only to exhibit the products of TOTO, but purposed to disseminate the knowledge about the sanitary wares in Japan as whole, and it tried to indicate
how these sanitary goods have improved the social life of people by the rich exhibition.
The number of visitors said to have already more than hundred thousand thanks to the fascinating facilities and abundant contents of exhibition. I decided to visit the museum in this summer by hearing this reputation. The visit was quite satisfactory so as to excellent exhibition and good guidance. I could learn a lot about the evolution and technology of sanitary ware in Japan, and the history of TOTO as a leading player in this field. Then I wrote a report of visit here to remind my memory.
See Museum web site of ” TOTO Museum” http://www.toto.co.jp/museum/
♣ Charm of TOTO Museum
Today, when we twist the tap faucet, the clean water will be coming immediately, and
it’s possible to use freely warm water used in the bathroom. In the toilet, excrement can be washed out by just one touch action. Such a hygienic and comfortable life is quite common now as a natural scene. However, in the past, when the sewerage system had been hardly available, people’s life was so inconvenient, and always forced to be anxious about the unsanitary when using toilet and tapping water in the house.
These kind of favorable changes of social life were all brought by the evolution of equipment and sewage system in dealing with “waterworks”, particularly the technology advancement of sanitary wares and related plumbing tools. The TOTO museum seems to want illustrate of this dynamic historical change of sanitation systems through the exhibition. The exhibition zone of TOTO Museum was divided into three parts. The first zone tried to show the roots and history of TOTO with its founding story, the second zone described the Japanese plumbing systems in history with culture background, and the third corner was allocated to the space showing worldwide production line of TOTO. In addition, if visitors want and request, they can take part in the “factory tour” to observe the production lines of TOTO in real scene.
After visit I felt the TOTO museum gave us an immeasurable information regarding the function of sewerage system and the related equipment technology, such as the development of bathroom, washroom, toilet equipment, and offer the image how they have been advancing to the current styles, and how they will progress in the future.
♣ Foundation of TOTO and its corporate history
The origin of the TOTO Co. is the “Toyo Toki”, literally mean “Oriental Pottery”, which was founded in 1917 for production of sanitary ware and pottery. But the company was, as a matter of fact, established as a “Pottery Research Institute” in 1912 under the “Nihon Toki Co. Ltd.” (Japan Pottery Co. Ltd.) for the first time. The founder of the company was “Kazuchika Okura” who had been working for a trade company “Morimura Gumi”. The motivation of starting business in sanitary ware was emerged when he had been studying in Europe and seen the splendor of the toilet and the bath tub in the Western country. Then he had started the R&D activity to produce these sanitary wares in Japan in the 1910s. Afterward he began the production of Western-style toilet pottery ware by set up a factory in Kokura, Kyushu under the name of “Toyo Toki”.
At the time, the most of bathtub and toilet bowl were made out of wooden materials in Japan. Therefore Okura believed that the sanitary pottery ware might be widely spread in future along with
the change of lifestyle to the modernization and urbanization in Japan.
However, in the initial time of years, the development was extremely difficult and the spread of sanitary ware did not go well in the market as expected before. So the company had to continue the sanitary ware business depending on the increasing production of tableware china in collaboration with Noritake” (A brother chinaware manufacturing company of Toyo Toki). Turning point was come in the Taisho years of 1930s. That time, the sewerage systems were gradually expanded according to the progress of urbanization in Japan, so the sales of pottery sanitary wares were beginning to appear picking up in the market. Additionally, when it comes after the War in the 1960s and 70s, the demands of sanitary wares were quickly expanding along with the expansion and changes in the life style.
In particular, the construction of large residential complex encouraged the adoption of “Western-style toilet “, and resulted in the widespread use of full-scale sanitary ware.
In these trends, TOTO has grown as a worldwide global company, by producing a variety type of innovative sanitary wares, for example, the unit bus for hotels (1960s), warm water washing toilet “Washlet” (1970s), water-saving washing toilet bowl (1980s) , and others.
In the museum, the history of TOTO and its founding philosophy were elaborately explained along with the exhibition of various type of products. With this exhibition, we can understand well the development of sanitary wares in the past and now, and get a image its evolution how these products have created responding to social and life style changes.
♣ Evolution of toilet sanitary ware and TOTO
The museum has particularly focused to the exhibition of toilet sanitary ware because it is the main products of TOTO. In Japan, since ancient times, “toilet” was rather seen as the “behind-the-scenes” goods or the “off-the-house” facility even though being aware it of important part of life. But today, it has changed it to recognize as a “Space” which should be kept in the open, comfortable, and hygienic environment. This history zone of the museum tried to illustrate how the sanitary ware, espe
cially toilet, has developed in response to the shift of social systems and technology advancement. And the exhibition also showed how it contributed to the improvement of life style on the other hand. These exhibitions were quite valuable assets to examine the entire evolution of the sanitary wares in Japan, not only to look TOTO products.
When looking around in the exhibition hall, we could come across a large panel which deliberately described the various shapes of “toilet” and the way of excrement processing from the ancient times to now. There we could meet the attractive stories on the toilet and waste processing systems with elaborate pictures. For examples, the original meaning of “Kawaya” (river side toilet), “Setchin” (Toilet covered by snow-like materials), old recycling system of “excrement”, and other episodes were introduced as well as the pictures regarding the changing waste processing methods from the ‘storage type to the ‘wash-and-flow type’, and the shift from the “Japanese-style” to “Western-style” toilet reflecting the change of the people’s daily life. The exhibition was well arranged to show whole historical development of sanitation systems, not only introduce the TOTO related toilet system development. It is quite acceptable the reasons why the main concept of the museum was set for the creation of the “health”, “comfortable”, and “environment ” friendly systems in daily life.
The special exhibition caught our eyes was the “Toilet Bike Neo” which was produced for the promotion of sanitary ware TOTO. The campaign was carried out by the nationwide caravan of the “Bike” procession which ran by the fuel of bio-gas produced in excrement processing. The caravan was conducted by putting the Western-style toilet on the bike, while singing a song on the Co2 reduction and environmental and sanitation. It was carried under the campaign called the “TOTO Green Challenge” TOTO in 2011. Visitors were all delighted and amused to see this real “Bike Neo” machine on the display in the hall.
♣ Evolution of exhibition of bathroom and kitchen
TOTO was set a goal to be a total manufacturer of water related business with
focus on the “plumbing” equipment besides sanitary ware. So the company has been developing many types of bathroom or kitchen, wash basin, and other plumbing goods. Therefore, the exhibition of these products was also abundant in the museum. They are showing the historical process of evolvement of the bathroom, the kitchen and washroom too. And it described in detail how these equipment have positioned in the home, and
how they progressed the water-saving technology, as well as the improvement of components.
These exhibited products were quite familiar and approachable because the most of them were commonly used in the Showa and Heisei period, and they could recall the former our daily life. And additionally we could recognize how they have transformed to the current style equipment. These were wonderful exhibition for the visitors.
In addition, the museum displayed the original type of “system bath” which had been introduced into the hotel for the first time in 1960s, and the samples of the system kitchen, modern toilet, shower and others which were widely spread to the general household in the 1970s.
The museum also showed the advancing technology of lumbering systems, such as the development of water-saving technologies. All these were thought to be essential for keeping sanity and conformity in the family and social life.
In the museum, the different style of bathroom and sanitary ware in a foreign country were also introduced. They were interesting to reflect different lifestyle and culture in the style.
♣ Development technology and production process of the site
It might be a merit point point of this museum to give chance for visitors to observe the production process not only seeing final products only. In the side of the exhibition hall, a video corner was provided to show the real figures of sanitary ware production process of baking pottery, mounting parts, assembling of them. Actual configuration of the electronic components and fittings of the latest flush toilet were displayed in the glass case there.
So the visitors could learn how big volume of functional parts which were installed in the compact invisible space and how they supported the smooth and safely operation. Through these exhibits we can recognize well the systems of water-saving and cleaning function which were managed and kept in the equipment in safely.
♣ Final Remark
I visited the TOTO museum in Kyushu in this summer as described above. In the spacious building I was satisfied to able to see the development of the various devices related to the “water” technology and its products in old and new. Among them, one of the great outcome for me was to get knowledge about how variety sanitary wares and equipment Japan have been developed in conjunction with the change of social environment and evolution of social systems. Through the visit I really admired of the creation of the TOTO museum which gives rich information about the daily home products like toilet and plumbing equipment. So I believe the museum is worth to visit by anybody if they have an opportunity.
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