TOKYO — When it comes to saving energy, the Japanese have much to teach the United States and other rich countries, whose leaders descend on Japan next month for a Group of Eight summit.
Energy consumption per person here is about half that in the United States, and the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is slower than anywhere in the industrialized world.
There is a hiccup, though, in this world-beating record. It happens inside the Japanese home, where energy use is surging. And nothing embodies the surge quite like the toilet — a plumbing fixture that has been reengineered here as an ultracomfy energy hog.
Japanese toilets can warm and wash one’s bottom, whisk away odors with built-in fans and play water noises that drown out potty sounds. They play relaxation music, too. “Ave Maria” is a favorite.
High-end toilets can also sense when someone enters or leaves the bathroom, raising or lowering their lids accordingly. Many models have a “learning mode,” which allows them to memorize the lavatory schedules of household members.