TOTO (Traditional Of course shortened to TOO-too) is a colloquialism for the English slang term “a lot too much.” It’s often heard among English speakers, yet it’s also occasionally heard in American English, especially in grunge-speak. Like so many other slang terms, TOO has its own history and place in the lingo; this article covers that background, as well as some of the common variations in use today. The use of TOO in the United States is most widespread in the coastal South, where it seems to predominate.
One of the most prominent proponents of the English toto “too much” idiom is the author and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. In his book The Geography of Tomorrow, he adopts a similar style of idioms to warn against an “imminent catastrophe.” Among other things, he uses the term “tototo desu” — “to do more or less.” In one instance, he compares someday to the ” someday shock” of the American civil war: “a day when something like a ‘to toto desu’ could happen, when we least expect it…. American history moves at a faster pace than Japan history, and if we do not watch out for the toto desu effect, we may be overmatched by that unexpected edge of crisis that will overshadow everything else.”
A related usage of the toto toilet is found in the language of the Japanese tourist, particularly those who frequent Narita, an island off the coast of central Japan. While the majority of Japanese tourists are respectful of their toilet facilities, there are a small percentage who take to defecate in the street, ruining the neatness of the town. As a result, “tototo saki” is used to describe those “over-the-top folks” who defecate in the street. It’s unclear whether this term ever came into use before World War II, but since that time it has.
It’s not just in public bathrooms that the toto has made its mark on modern Japanese culture. The traditional rural life of Japan also lends itself to a certain amount of defecation involved in the average home. Since traditional Japanese toilets don’t have seat controls, the responsibility of flushing rests solely with the owner, creating the need for someone–a child perhaps, or a neighbor who knows a place to get rid of his waste–to come along at least once a week and do the job.
While these toilets are widely available in Japan, they’re not exactly widespread. Most rural homes have clay toilets, which are more reliable but also more expensive. One reason for this is that clay doesn’t stain easily. Some rural homeowners, therefore, choose to go with a traditional cast iron model, which can look great but is much sturdier.
A toto toilet is definitely an interesting piece of technology. Its unusual shape makes it stand out. It’s not only eye-catching and unique; it also solves one of the most common problems with modern toilets: keeping the area around the toilet clean. It’s a basic concept, really, but not one that have spread across the world en masse like the toilet. Hopefully, as this new design takes off in more places, we’ll see other innovative toilets take their place.
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