Mark always said that the way you can tell how an economy is doing is by looking at the price of a cup of coffee. Compare enough prices and you can tell the highly developed from the underdeveloped.
My indicators, on the flip side, are bathrooms.
There are countries which don’t have a decent system of sewage and require you to throw the used paper into a garbage can.
Japan is a whole different ballgame.
Japanese women are normally very embarrassed if someone should hear them urinate or (God forbid) hear much heavier work being done. So what would happen is that they flush several times so that no one would hear.
This caused a problem in public bathrooms because of the tremendous waste of water. So the bathrooms in the Ginza department stores and in the airports have installed something I would buy in a heartbeat.
I entered the bathroom and all you hear was the sound of cascades. These toilets are equipped with a control panel that has a series of buttons as well as a speaker in each stall. From the panel, you can control the loudness of your cascade. some places had perfume for your heavier events. There were also pipes that came out to wash front or back, an automatic bidet, as well as buttons for heat and spray strength.
God bless the Japanese and their $10,000 units. They are so worth it.