Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the poops of your butt.
When it comes to public pooping facilities in Japan, it’s often a case of feast or famine in terms of functions and creature comforts. Sometimes you’ll enter a stall to find a squat toilet, which for the uninitiated requires precise posture and positioning, but on the other end of the spectrum are the country’s high-tech human waste receptacles, with heated seats and adjustable bidet sprays.
One of the classiest features of fancy Japanese toilets is the otohime, literally “sound princess.” Pushing the corresponding button on the toilet’s control panel causes a speaker to emit privacy-protecting sounds to cover your tinkle, as well as the grunts, air whooshes, and plops of more strenuous defecation, sparing you the embarrassment of having the person in the next stall hear all the audible details of your digestive process finale.
But as the name implies, sound princess functions usually involve delicate sounds such as a babbling brook or chittering birds. While they create an elegant atmosphere, Japanese Twitter user @Cross_KE worries about how effective they are for heavy-duty dooty.
???CrossKE??? (@Cross_KE) April 27, 2017
“Even guys don’t want other people to hear them going number two, but sometimes I worry the sound princess isn’t going to be enough to drown out the pooping sounds. What if there was a “sound shogun” with a conch blast followed by a battle cry?”
While it may have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek play on words, others enthusiastically retweeted @Cross_KE’s idea. This caught the attention of another Twitter user, @HPPS_HEIWASOU, who took the idea and ran with it, creating a working prototype!
HPPS＠平和荘 (@HPPS_HEIWASOU) May 16, 2017
True to @Cross_KE’s vision, pressing the button brings forth three trumpeting blasts from a conch shell, used as a means of battlefield communication in Japan’s feudal period. After that, a samurai can be heard shouting “Move out!” as his brothers-in-arms advance, ideally coinciding with when your stool drops.
Impressed online commenters had the following to say:
“Open the castle gate!! It’s time to deploy!”
“A truly exalted personage is departing for the front.”
“The toilet is a battlefield!”
“I’d like a slightly more relaxed ‘Sound Lord of the Castle’.”
“Someone should totally mass-produce this and sell it to highway rest stops.”
The last comment might not be entirely far-fetched. Some Japanese rest stops go all-out with their bathroom amenities, and others are keen to play up their local historical heritage. With some tourism promotions already attracting those who’d like to sleep like a samurai, there just might be benefits to giving travelers a touch of old-school ambiance when they’re performing other biological functions as well.