In the 1980s, Teruzo Ina, then president of INAX, launched a campaign to redefine bathrooms as “the Third Space.” Until then, the living, dining and kitchen areas received the most attention in Japanese homes, while toilets and baths were treated as necessities. Ina envisioned that these products in the home could be far more than just necessities, suggesting transforming these spaces into beautiful, comfortable and relaxing spaces within the home.
The concept of developing beautiful and comfortable restrooms itself was not new. Upon the introduction of Western-style ceramic toilets in the Meiji period, skilled Japanese craftsmen developed new Japanese style blue-and-white sometsuke toilet bowls. With the distinctively Japanese spirit of omotenashi, affluent households arranged beautiful lavatories with exquisitely painted toilet bowls and decorative tiles especially for guests to use. As architect Bruno Taut specifically noted with admiration in his memoire from his time in Japan, these households would have separate and more ordinary toilets for family members and servants.
Today, the primary focus in Japanese homes has shifted from guests to the family, but the desire to make living spaces more comfortable and beautiful prevails. Over the years, LIXIL has consistently pursued innovations that elevate the standards of living, especially through the evolution of the Third Space.
In the Meiji era, pottery toilets with elegant patterns of flowers, birds, and plants painted in blue became extremely popular amongst the more affluent. Presented here are some of the finest from INAX MUSEUMS’ exquisite blue and white pottery toilet collection.
In 1986, INAX opened XSITE, a signature showroom on the 37th floor of an office building within a newly launched business and cultural facilities complex, displaying a collection of 800 toilet bowls, wash stands, and baths from 30 manufacturers across 10 countries around the world. The showroom was to disrupt and change the prevailing attitudes towards toilets at the time, turning them from something dirty into an attractive piece of interior furniture. XSITE marked the start of the “Third Space” movement, changing the perception of bathrooms from just a functional space to take care of one’s basic needs to a space of luxury and comfort.
Since launching the first made-in-Japan shower toilet in 1967, LIXIL has continuously led the technological innovation of toilets, delivering new features that respond to the needs and desires of our customers. To make restrooms more spacious, we revised the overall layout of the control circuit and various components of the toilet in order to develop the smallest tank-less toilet in the world in 2001.
Our continuous quest for innovation includes many dimensions: comfort, ease of cleaning, interactivity, reduction of smell, water conservation, and aesthetics - all to deliver a better lifestyle and further comfort to restrooms.
“100 years clean”: one of LIXIL’s latest technological innovations includes toilet bowls made with a special new ceramic material that reduces stains and the build-up of bacteria, while retaining shine. Through such products, LIXIL provides opportunities to further reduce daily household chores while conserving the earth’s precious resources.
As the Third Space evolves with new technology and innovation, toilets and bathrooms are becoming ever more significant within the modern Japanese home.
Many Japanese are ofurozuki - immensely fond of taking baths. As the Japanese archipelago consists of numerous volcanic islands, mineral-rich natural onsen (hot springs) can be found throughout the country. A dip in the onsen has been a popular treat for the Japanese for centuries.
The culture of regular hot water bathing was established with the arrival of Buddhism in the sixth century. Buddhism connected bathing and cleanliness with purification, and temples provided baths to the public, establishing the custom of communal bathing. In the Edo period (1603 ? 1868), sento, non-religious bathhouses, became very popular. Initially, these bathhouses offered steam baths with shallow pools but from mid 17th century, bathtubs that allowed one to soak up to the neck also became available. To keep the steam from escaping, the entrance to the bath was walled off with only a small entrance.
In the early 20th century, the design of sento changed considerably. The small entrance was widened, bathtubs were lowered into the floor for easier access, the volume of hot water increased, and the bath space became brighter. Eventually, the wooden floor panels of the body cleansing space and bath tubs were replaced with tiles. The walls of sento were also often hand painted or decorated with colorful mosaic tiles. Popular designs included Mount Fuji, scenic coastlines, and mountains in Europe, making it look more spacious and giving a sense of being on a trip.
Before World War II, only affluent Japanese households had baths at home. In the early 20th century, home baths were typically made of wood or iron, but as the use of ceramics increased, tiled bathtubs became popular. Despite the influence of Western culture after the Meiji Restoration, with respect to bathing, the Japanese kept their tradition of cleaning first before soaking in the hot tub.
In the 1950s, the post-war development of housing apartments spread the number of homes with baths. No longer was making wooden tubs by hand a viable option and methods for mass production were sought after. Stainless steel tubs were produced, followed by fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) tubs in 1958, which triggered the growth of home baths and led to the development of modular bathtubs.
Baths in Japanese homes today are much more than just a space to manage one’s personal hygiene. The bathrooms are more spacious and bathtubs are designed at the right incline to make them more comfortable to recline in. LIXIL’s lineup includes a luxurious bath with a veil of hot water flowing over the neck, stimulating blood flow and helping to promote beauty and health at the same time, as shown above. There is no end to technological innovations, and we continue to pursue ever greater comfort and relaxation in the bath.
Foam Bath is a conceptual bathing idea and was a popular feature at GROHE’s exhibition at ISH 2015. LIXIL’s R&D team designed a concept bath system where warm foam flows with the water source. The warm foam is designed not to flatten or cool down easily, allowing minimal water usage and maximum pleasurable time in the bath. Such a product could be environmentally friendly and provide ultimate joy and relaxation for the serious bather who likes to linger in the bath, allowing them to read a book or watch a movie wrapped in warm foam for hours. This is one example of creative thinking and pursuit of innovation within LIXIL.
Story4 Herovisual: © LIXIL