[FOUNTAIN]Clean toilets are a worthy goalThe first flush toilet in history is believed to have been used in Crete of ancient Greece more than 3,500 years ago. The Palace of Knossos had a tank that used water pressure to flush out waste.
However, Europe’s bathroom culture waned in the medieval period, until modernization transformed the bathroom in the 19th century. Mansions in Europe started to install flush toilets. By the 20th century, the flush system had become the global standard for toilets.
Japan is famous for maintaining impressively clean restrooms. The Japanese sense of hygiene does not tolerate any toilet in substandard condition. In Japan, keeping restrooms clean is a business, not just a public campaign or a civic movement.
The unique culture of cleanliness has helped create big businesses. The cleaning company Duskin was built on founder Seichi Suzuki’s perfect sense of hygiene.
He thought his contribution to society was as a duster, which cleans as much as it gets dirty. So when he founded his own company, he wanted to name it “jokin,” or duster in Japanese. The company could have been called “Duster Co.”
Despite the noble cause behind this mundane name, his employees did not welcome the idea. They pleaded for a name change, fearing that they would be ashamed to say the name of the company they worked for. So Mr. Suzuki compromised and named the company “Duskin,” a hybrid of dust and jokin. Armed with the “duster spirit,” Duskin grew to a major company with 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in annual revenue after 40 years.
Amenity Co., a Japanese toilet cleaning service provider, is another example. President Satoshi Yamato is always thinking about the toilet. Each employee and executive at the company uses an in-house nickname that is associated with a toilet, such as “loo” or “stool.” Mr. Yamato is known to have requested that his coffin resemble a toilet. The company even trains and issues licenses to “toilet examiners.” Amenity’s brilliant ideas have attracted Korean companies’ attention.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is currently examining public restrooms at restaurants and public facilities for the “Excellent Toilet Award.” Fifty-five restrooms in outstanding condition would be honored. The award is not an eye-catching event, but let’s hope that it will lead to improvements in our restroom culture.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.