For the most part, Japanese society places a high value on cleanliness. But as you might have deduced from it being the country that gave the world children’s literary classic Everyone Poops, even in Japan nature calls, and when it does, sometimes you’ll need to duck into a public restroom.
Japan’s high-tech toilets have become the stuff of legend, what with the adjustable angles and temperatures of their bottom-washing water sprays. But there’s another welcome bit of user-friendliness waiting in many Japanese restrooms in the form of an extremely clever, and sanitary, toilet paper holder design.
While we ordinarily wouldn’t recommend watching videos that someone filmed in a public bathroom stall, this one from Reddit user possumpossum is definitely an exception. We’d also say it qualifies for a pass for violating the “Don’t film in portrait mode” mantra, because once again, when recording video in a public restroom, a panoramic view of your surroundings isn’t always desirable.
As you can see, there’s a roll of toilet paper loaded into a holder mounted on the wall, and while it’s not the only design you’ll find in Japan, it’s easily one of the most common. The plastic cover is a nice touch, as it’ll keep dust and moisture from settling on the top of the roll, and its edge will help make a clean slice when pulling a piece off the roll.
But what’s really clever is how the mechanism operates when it’s time to replace the paper. Most Japanese restrooms are equipped with a stockpile of spare rolls, and when it’s time to replace this one, you won’t even have to directly touch the holder.
Just grab a new roll and press up from the bottom. The holding prongs rotate upwards as the old roll pops out, then slide back into locking position as the new one comes in. Pull the old roll’s core out and set in on the shelf next to the other reserve rolls, and as you do, the cover falls back down into place and you’ve got a fresh batch of paper, having never actually put your fingertips on the holder itself.
Unlike eating fresh sushi at Tsukiji or watching the sun set behind Mt. Fuji, though, it turns out this is one experience you don’t necessarily have to come to Japan for, as some online commenters have pointed out that you can buy a similar toilet paper holder from Amazon for the reasonable price of US$11.99. Install one in your home bathroom and enjoy feeling like you’re in Japan once or twice a day, provided your digestive system is working as it should.