Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - Page 5 News List

River sounds ease flow of shy women in bathrooms

By Huang Po-lang  /  Staff reporter

Female tourists can now enjoy the soothing sounds of flowing water while answering the call of nature at Beimen (北門) and Budai (布袋) visitor centers, overseen by the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration.

The sound is emitted by a device placed in the restrooms and is meant to mask the noises one makes when using the toilet, which can be embarrassing to some women, an official at the administration said.

Administration director Cheng Jung-feng (鄭榮豐) said the water sound player is called otohime, or “sound princess,” in Japanese, and is mounted on women’s restroom walls where it can be activated either by a motion sensor or pushing a button that plays the soundtrack for about 25 seconds.

“The device is in almost every bathroom in Japan,” because many Japanese women are self-conscious about being overheard using the bathroom, Cheng said.

Installing the sound player saves water because it stops bathroom-shy women from flushing the toilet to mask any embarrassing noises. The otohime solves the wastage problem and helps women save face, as well as making the restroom a relaxed environment through the calming river sounds, Cheng said.

Cheng added that the agency’s effort to improve the quality of the visitor centers’ restrooms started last year, with an initiative to place stickers of flies in the urinals in men’s restrooms. The sticker gives the user a target to aim for, thereby reducing splashing and keeping the bathroom clean.

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