Japan’s high-tech toilets are considered among the best in the world. Those toilets will automatically lift off its lid as if it is their way of “greeting” the visitors. And it is no surprise that Japan’s toilets are one of a kind sites that sometimes amaze and perplex visitors. However, this doesn’t mean that doing your business is without its pitfalls, and knowing the features of Japanese toilets, including how to read and use the buttons, and cleaning with bidet washlets prior to use will make you comfortable as possible when using the restroom in Japan.
Toilets in Japan
Most of the public toilets in Japan are well maintained, equipped with toilet papers, and kept spotlessly clean to ensure comfort for all travelers. However, some toilets in the rural areas have only washiki (traditional squat type Japanese toilet) with no toilet papers so it might be a better idea to carry some in case.อ่านเพิ่มเติม
- THE TOKYO TOILET Project
Type of Toilets
There are three types of toilets in Japan: washiki (traditional squat type Japanese toilet), yoshiki (Western-style toilet) and the takino-toire (multi-function toilet). These multi-function toilets are set in a wider space so that a person in wheelchairs or by persons accompanying babies and small children can use them too. On the other, squat types are seen more in older sightseeing spots and buildings. However nowadays, many places use Western-style and multi-function toilets as a pair more than the squat type.
washiki/traditional squat type Japanese toilet
Words to Know
The control panels right next to the toilet appear in different forms, and the functions and icons can vary per model. Although not available with all toilets, these functions are common in Japan and will make your nether end sparkle. Toto is the most famous brand offering washlet and bidet technology.Here are some basic functions you should be aware of.
おしり(oshiri): wash for your behind
ビデ: bidet (wash for your front)
やわらか(yawaraka):a gentle wash for your behind
低/弱: low/weak (used to adjust the level of water pressure)
高/強: high/strong (used to adjust the level of water pressure)
In Japan, toilet paper is thrown directly into the toilet after use. However, please be sure to put just the toilet paper provided in the toilet. Everything else should be placed into the small trash can located within the cubicle.
How to use squat type
In more rural areas and public parks, there are higher chances of encountering these washiki (traditional squat type Japanese toilets). It's not as difficult as it seems to use this if you know how. Make sure to squat facing away from the door, towards the toilet bowl. And for the love of hygiene, touch the flush with your foot if located near the floor. Use your quad muscles firmly to support your weight while doing your business.
Flushing Water Sound Simulator
The 流水音 or the sound button is for you if you want to avoid the embarrassment of having others hear you while doing your business. The sound may turn on and off automatically or other times, you might have to push a button to start the sound simulator. Although they might appear quite similar, this button is different from the flush button, so please take care not to confuse the two.
A bit confusing but flush button is on the left and sound button on the right with a note pictogram to help distinguish the difference
One example of the “sound” button on the control panel on the wall
Another example of the panel attached to the toilet bowl with a sound button
There are an increasing number of toilets in Japan that are equipped with a sensor that triggers an automatic flush when you are finished and stand up. Often people forget to flush so this takes care of that problem. However, if you see any flush button, it might be safe to push it after you are done with your business just in case the sensor doesn’t get triggered.
New control panel and this type is more common these days with full and half flush options
Old type control panel with no English written. Look for the word 流す(flush)
Sensor flushing type
Auto Lid Opening And Closing
Many new toilets in Japan will have sensors that detect the presence of the people and automatically open and close the lid. For avoiding the spread of germs and for hygiene purposes, this is great but also convenient for those who forget to lower the toilet seat when leaving.
Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association standardized the pictograms in 2017 and became a global standard in 2019. The aim for this standardization is to prevent foreign visitors from accidently squirting in the face when groping for the flush. These standardized pictograms will help define each function on the complicated control panels on the electronic (smart) toilets in Japan with less accidents.