Toilets are used to evacuate the bowels or to urinate, and was also referred to as a lavatory or outhouse. In short, toilets are an essential part of our living environment as it used to satisfy basic physiological needs.
In the past, toilets were considered as a smelly, dirty and dark place but now the concept is changing as people enjoy higher living and cultural standards. Toilets are considered as an essential part of our living environment and not just as a place to address physiological needs. In particular, as environmental factors are becoming more and more important, toilets have become a yardstick for measuring a country's level of cultural sophistication. This reflects how the function of toilets is evolving as peoples' needs diversify. For example, when you go to a restroom in a department store today, you'll see moms changing her baby's diaper on an installed table. It's unknown as to who came up with idea to install diaper change tables in department store restrooms, but it clearly shows that restrooms have become a multi-functional facility to satisfy various needs of users.
Restrooms are also used as a space where we can freshen up and to clear and gather our thoughts. Humans tend to do most of their intensive thinking while sitting on a toilet. As can be seen, restrooms are no longer a place to finish up urgent business and quickly leave. It has evolved into a place where you wash your hands, primp yourself, and keep your mind and body neat.
Restrooms built inside a building can represent the image of that building. According to an article, a large corporation was renovating its restrooms in its entire local and overseas subsidiaries to the ones like in five-star hotels. The company intended to improve working conditions by upgrading the restrooms to more of a cultural space under the slogans like "Transform the Most Unsanitary Place into the Cleanest Place!" and "A Lounge-Like Space to Rest and Think!" This is because a restroom has now become the face of a company.
Under the indirect illumination of soft colors, restroom floors and walls are decorated with marble, and full-body mirrors are installed. Toiletry sets and powder rooms are available in ladies' rooms. This also reflects the change in people's concept of toilets. It is no longer regarded as a filthy place but rather a luxurious place.
Japan, whose restroom culture is said to be 10 years ahead of that of Korea, celebrates the "Restroom Day" every November 10th. Well-structured, bright and spacious, public restrooms in Japan make the users feel at ease.
Another charming point of Japanese restrooms is that they are fully equipped with facilities for mothers with a baby, the disabled, the weak and the elderly. Women's restrooms have a small bed to lay down a baby and restrooms for the disabled have an emergency button. Public restroom facilities in Japan are of high quality and are cleaned with hand dust clothes 2 or 3 times a day to keep it clean.
Some department stores decorate their restrooms with unusual and unique designs, and utilize their beautiful restrooms in its marketing strategies.
Japan established the Restroom Association in 1985 and has held symposiums on restrooms on a regular basis. Every year, it selects and awards outstanding restrooms.
People in Japan think it is their responsibility to use public restrooms cleanly and properly while being aware that facility management is taken care of by the government. This underlying thinking may be why Japan enjoys high quality and hygienic public restrooms.
A restroom is now a third living environment for humans and a critical factor in determining quality of life. Accordingly, relevant studies need to be conducted in more depth. Restroom culture has become a barometer for measuring a society's level of sophistication. As mentioned earlier, restrooms have become multi-functional. It is transformed into a cultural and living space for contemplation and meditation. As human culture advances with economic development and improvement in quality of life, restrooms will serve more diverse needs and purposes.