There is a shortage of toilet paper shortages in Japan. And it's no wonder. After all, this is the nation renowned for its healthy obsession with hygiene and, more to the point, its elaborate multi-function, touch-free automatic toilets which allow squirting and swirling water to do all the paper work, as it were.
So central is sanitation to Japanese day-to-day life, Toto, which has sold more than 50 million toilet units globally, even operates its own museum and library in Tokyo dedicated to the history of the lavatory.
But what was once merely a quirky, if initially confronting, feature of any visit to the land of the self-rising lid, is now emerging as an essential luxury feature of five-star hotel rooms in Australia in these establishments' unceasing quest to impress guests.
What's more, Japanese-style toilets are also being installed in domestic Australian bathrooms as a result of an increased awareness of hygiene during the pandemic and also due to their growing status value and talking-point potential.
In 2020, more than 2000 Toto toilets were sold in Australia, and the brand is now even available via retailers such as Harvey Norman, with Victorian distributors of the appliances (as they're categorised) considering the hi-tech toilets a growth market Down Under.
Although Toto remains the most well-known electronic toilet manufacturer - and the one favoured by five-star hotels for its instant brand recognition, especially among its high-value Asian guests - it is facing competition from foreign manufacturers.
Roca, a Spanish brand, is sold throughout Reece bathroom supply outlets, while the high-profile Kohler, founded by an Austrian but based in the US, describes its Veil intelligent toilet" as "pure, ergonomic design and customised personal cleansing, operated via a touchscreen LCD remote control".
Among the upscale hotels to include Japanese-style toilets in Sydney and Melbourne are the new W Melbourne and the Park Hyatt Sydney.
Dominic Polito, retail manager of Sirius Designs in South Melbourne, which specialises in luxury bathroom accessories, says that even more upscale hotels than those mentioned are installing the Japanese smart toilets, as are exclusive city apartment blocks and domestic clients.
"We've noticed a big shift in the perception among Australians about the Washlet [the main Toto smart toilet style]," Mr Polito says. "They understand and recognise their worth beyond the novelty-value factor. It is a product to a large extent of many Australians' extensive travels in Asia."
The lavish bathrooms at the newly opened Crown Towers Sydney include the Japanese-made Toto Neorest toilet. The functions include electrolysed water, a pre-mist spray, deodorising, a heated seat, several modes of washing, a dryer and even a night light inside the bowl.
The toilets also feature auto and remote-control flushing with no requirement for an integral or in-wall cistern. Crown Towers Sydney incorporates three models of Toto toilets in its rooms, including the classic Washlet in standard rooms.
Although the inclusion of these fancy privies was clearly designed to cater for visiting guests from Asia, the Japanese-style toilets will not have gone unappreciated by their Australian counterparts.
However, to afford these premium toilets for your own bathroom, it helps if you're a bit flush. The top of the range Toto toilet at Sirius Designs costs $33,000 and comes with a gold-plated remote control. The entry point Washlet is priced at less than $2000.
Despite their fulsome though sanitary embrace of the Japanese super bowl, Mr Polito doesn't consider Australians are quite ready for music for their rears.
Tunes, including birdsong, played during ablutions, are one of the most quirky functions of Japanese smart toilets. And, like the loos themselves, Mr Polito believes it's only a matter of time before this extra asset infiltrates Australian bathrooms.
See also: The world's most amazing public toilets