During Chinese New Year, nearly half a million Chinese people spent almost 6 billion yuan (about $1 billion) in Japan, or 13,000 yuan ($2,000) per person. And a substantial part of this was spent on electronically heated toilet seats!
Staff in many Japanese malls reported that toilet seats were in short supply during the Chinese New Year.
Products priced over 2,000 yuan (about $300) almost sold out. And Chinese buyers didn’t even ask what the price was. A typical family bought 5 toilet seat covers for personal use and as gifts.
— vitelline (@vitelline) March 2, 2015
But why do Chinese people have to travel all the way to Japan just to buy toilet seat covers?
The reasons behind the frenzy is easy to guess: bargains always win out. Smart toilet covers with the same functions can be sold for thousands of yuan less in Japan. For example, a Matsushia toilet cover with “instant heating” function only costs $500 in Japan, while a similar product without “instant heating” function sells for $1,000 in China, according to qq news.
However, some observant customers found that the Japanese toilet covers were “Made in China.” After an inquiry, Matsushita’s customer service center confirmed that the seats were indeed manufactured in Hangzhou, but produced strictly following Japanese standards, according to Sina News.
In other words, a Hangzhou-produced toilet seat traveled across the ocean to Japan, and was bought by a Chinese tourist who carried it back to China again. Chinese bloggers joked:
Isn’t this a free round trip for a Japanese toilet seat cover?”