Toto’s 100-Year Journey: Modernizing Japan, Saving Water and Power Worldwide

(Photo courtesy of Toto)
(Photo courtesy of Toto)

Japan may be known today as being at the forefront of technological progress, but when Kazuchika Okura started Toto Ltd. in 1917, things looked different.

At the time, Japan did not yet have a robust public sewage system. After travelling abroad and seeing more advanced systems in other countries, Okura had a vision of bringing these innovations to Japan. His mission was to supply the nation with healthier and cleaner living spaces.

Today, Toto is the world’s largest manufacturer of high-tech bathroom fixtures, with over 30,000 employees in 69 offices around the world, and manufacturing facilities in Japan, Mexico, the United States, China, and Europe.

(Photo courtesy of Toto)
(Photo courtesy of Toto)
(Photo courtesy of Toto)

Toto’s ubiquitous fixtures are among the most innovative and eco-friendly in the world. The company will display such cutting-edge fixtures at the Luxury Home & Design Show, hosted by our sister media, Taste of Life magazine, in Vancouver, June 21–24.

It includes a technology that sanitizes surfaces using light — a “photocatalyst” technology.

For example, the Neorest is an auto-aware toilet. Water-powered sensors in the faucets and flush valves reduce power consumption. It includes a technology that sanitizes surfaces using light — a “photocatalyst” technology. This reduces water-use for cleaning. Its SanaGloss ceramic glaze also repels germs and dirt.

The Neorest. (Photo courtesy of Toto)

Another innovation is Neorest’s use of electrolyzed water as a safe, powerful compound to eliminate invisible contaminants. It comes in a wall-hung model, which means the tank is hidden inside the wall for a more sleek, modern look and greater open space in the bathroom.

As part of its PeoplePlanetWater initiative, Toto is known for its waste-reduction efforts. This includes upcycling damaged porcelain by grinding it to powder for manufacturing tile, and recycling post-industrial grey water to reduce potable water consumption.

Though it has a forward-thinking philosophy, the company never strays far from its roots.

Cosmopolitan, yet essentially Japanese

“Japan’s rich artistic heritage in pottery and porcelain is still alive in every Toto product we create today,” says Berkeley Scott, a representative for Toto Canada West. One of its signature collections, Waza Miyabi, features hand-painted pieces in brilliant colour and rich detail, inspired by Kiyomizu-yaki, a Japanese art form dating back 800 years.

“Japan’s rich artistic heritage in pottery and porcelain is still alive in every Toto product.” -Berkeley Scott, Toto

Toto’s clean-lined, space-saving aesthetic is a testament to the Japanese culture’s minimalist tradition.

(Photo courtesy of Toto)
(Photo courtesy of Toto)

Regarding cultural trends worldwide, Scott says that, “As our culture accelerates and fragments, it should be no surprise that people are looking for an escape. The bathroom is turning out to be a key place they turn to for sanctuary. We try to create the ultimate getaway space: a place that feels warm and welcoming, secluded and serene.”

He sums up for us some of the changes he is seeing in bathroom fixtures: “Showers are adding steam and getting bigger, with more glass. Walled-off toilets, which give more privacy but also make the bathroom a space that can be enjoyed by more than one family member at a time, are being seen frequently.”

“The toilets themselves do more, with warmed seats, integrated bidets, and sometimes even music. Alternatives to glazed tiles are also a growing trend: porcelain, stone and glass tiles, bamboo and wood-like tile are being used to add a fresh, contemporary feeling and warmth.”

Toto will be part of a display by Vancouver’s Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware at the Luxury Home & Design Show in Vancouver, June 21–24, 2018. Learn more about the Luxury Home & Design Show.