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A worker polishes a toilet bowl at a Toto factory in Kitakyushu. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)
Business Spotlight

Toilet maker Toto looks to become a global fixture

Bidet purveyor's mix of craft and technology has been slow to catch on outside Japan

JOHN GAPPER, Editor-at-large, Nikkei Asian Review, and RURIKA IMAHASHI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

KITAKYUSHU, Japan -- On the humid casting floor of Toto's sanitary ware factory in Kitakyushu, two workers in blue short-sleeved shirts and gray caps carefully use fingers and thumbs to smooth out the lines and bumps in a ceramic clay bowl that has emerged from its mold. An object that will soon turn into a sophisticated piece of electronic consumer hardware is starting to be formed in a traditional manner.

The Japanese electronic bidet toilet, an icon of water jet hygiene, warm seats, soft lighting and self-opening lids, is a fixture in the country that developed it but has taken a long time to catch on elsewhere.

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