Suddenly, you find yourself in a primitive public bathroom not equipped with a Sound Princess! What are you going to do to cover up unseemly noises, without wasting gallons and gallons of water?  Eco-oto to the rescue! Now you can make loud flushing sounds anytime, anywhere, from your very own mobile phone!

The first time I encountered a Sound Princess mounted on the wall of a Tokyo Denny’s, I pushed the button, thinking it was the actual flush thingy. The stall was filled with a magnificent cascade of whooshing and gurgling toilet sounds, but nothing actually happened. I eventually found the actual flush button (whew!) and it was explained to me later that the Sound Princess was invented because Japanese women were using millions of gallons of water just covering up embarrassing noises by flushing continuously while in the loo.

Of course, one hopes the Eco-oto doesn’t spontaneously trigger on a crowded subway train, or while shoveling in the lunch ramen…

I always though a toilet was one of those things I’d be pretty safe skipping the instructions for, but in Japan, they take toilet design seriously. This one even has a Sound Princess feature built right in!

Read a novel set in Tokyo

The #1 hostboy at Club Nova makes a handsome living, whispering sweet nothings in the ears of women who pay him a fortune for the privilege. But the party’s over when Tokyo Detective Kenji Nakamura is assigned to investigate the death of…read more