Toilets in Japan
Whether it be in your daily life or on your travels, there is one place you will surely visit several times a day. That is the bathroom.
Almost all toilets in Japan are well maintained and kept spotlessly clean to ensure the utmost comfort for all travelers to Japan. On the whole, toilets are free to use and toilet paper is always provided.
1. Places with Toilet Facilities
In Japan, most travel and sightseeing destinations have a public toilet. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that in all places such as the airport, stations, lodgings, shopping centers, parks, tourist spots, and any places that visitors to Japan frequent, there will always be a public toilet. There are public toilets even in convenience stores and supermarkets.
In some of the facilities, depending on their type, it might be best to ask for permission to use the toilet, so please be sure to say something before use.
2. Toilet Signs
In Japan, there are many expressions used for the word “toilet,” like "otearai" and "toire." Some are direct and some are more polite.
For example, if you are in the middle of eating, you should refrain from using the word toire ("toilet”), which is too direct, and opt for more refined expressions such as keshoshitsu ("powder room") or otearai ("bathroom", literally "place to wash your hands"). To avoid getting lost on your way to the bathroom, here is a list of expressions that you should know.
Words that mean "Toilet" in Japanese
|化粧室||keshoshitsu (powder room)|
|トイレ||toire (toilet, very casual)|
|WC||symbol for restroom|
|厠(かわや)||old type of restroom|
3. Types of Toilets
In Japan, toilets are classified into three large categories. These are: washiki toire (和式 traditional Japanese toilet), yoshiki toire (様式 Western-style toilet), and a takino-toire (多機能 multifunction toilet).
Depending on the place, you may find traditional Japanese toilets in older sightseeing spots and buildings. However nowadays, many places use Western-style toilets ones.
The Traditional Japanese Toilet - Squat to Use
Photo by Pixta
Traditional Japanese toilets, or the washiki toire, involve squatting over the urinal. They are very uncommon in modern homes. As previously mentioned, you will find them mainly in public toilets, tourist destinations, and old buildings.
Public Restrooms In Japan - A How To Guide(Video) Unusual Things That You Will Only See In Japan
The Western-Style Toilet
Photo by Pixta
This variety of toilet is the most commonly found in Japan. It is Western-style and useable in the same way you would in the United States, Singapore, Australia, or most other developed countries.
Sometimes, the toilet will have a small sink-like area at the top. This is recycled, clean water you can use to wash your hands with.
The Multi-function Toilet
Photo by Pixta
These toilets are set in a wider space than usual, so that they can be used by persons in wheelchairs or by persons accompanying babies and small children. Of course, anybody can use these toilets, but their use is prioritized for the types of people listed above.
4. Toilet Facilities Found in Hotels and Lodgings
Photo by Pixta
The toilet and the bath are typically separated into two different rooms.
Photo by Pixta
The toilet and bathtub are located in the same area in a unit bath.
Hotel bathrooms are fitted with a shower, but it can only be used while in the bathtub. Also, leaving the bathroom door open while you take a shower may cause the fire alarm to go off, so please be sure to close the door. It's probably a good idea to pull the shower curtain across when using the shower, to avoid showering the rest of the bathroom, including the toilet seat.
5. How to Flush
In Japan, there are different flushing methods depending on the type of toilet.
If it’s a tank-type toilet, you can flush the toilet by using the handle to the side of the tank. In public facilities, traditional style Japanese toilets, or toilets that do not have a tank, you can flush the toilet by pulling the lever at the back of the toilet.
There are also models where the toilet can be flushed by pressing a button on the wall or hovering your hand over a sensor.
Photo by Pixta
Modern toilets flush automatically as soon as you get off of the toilet seat.
6. Japanese Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is used in Japan, even by those who own toilets with bidets and washlet functions (see below).
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 trashcan located within the cubicle.
Please check the area around the toilet for anything you may have dropped, and don't forget to flush it so that it can be used by the next person.
7. How to Use Washlets and Bidets on Toilets
One thing you should definitely try out when using Japanese toilets is the washlet bidet function. Although not available with all toilets, these functions are common in Japan. Toto is the most famous brand offering washlet and bidet technology.
They allow you to wash in warm water, and also keeps the toilet seat heated. A power-saving function is also included. It instantly heats up the seat when in use and makes the water warmer only when the toilet is in use.
Photo by Pixta
8. How to Read the Washlet Buttons
Photo by Pixta
You can use the washlet by accessing the control buttons on the side of the toilet itself. If the control pad is not set on the toilet, you can use the remote control pad on the wall. The pictures below show the different functions of each button.
9. Flushing Water Sound Simulator
In Japan, in order to drown out the sound of you going about your business, there is a function that simulates the sound of flushing water. Sometimes this sound automatically starts playing when it detects that somebody has entered the cubicle. 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.
10. Emergency Call Button
Photo by Pixta
Some toilets are provided with an emergency call button, which can be found next to the flush button. It is intended to be used by people with disabilities, or if you suddenly become sick while on the toilet. It reads "yobidashi" and will alert someone, so please be sure not to use this function except in the case of an emergency.
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What is special about Japanese toilets? ›
A Japanese toilet or smart toilet, as it's often referred to, is a toilet built with smart technology. Put simply, this means smart toilets can interact with their user via remote control access. With a press of the button, you can flush, spray and dry. As the name suggests, Japanese toilets originated in Japan.Can I throw toilet paper in the toilet in Japan? ›
When using toilets in Japan, leave toilet paper in the toilet bowl and flush the toilet after use. * Papers that can be flushed down the toilet are only toilet paper and other paper that can be flushed. * Please dispose of sanitary napkins and tampons in the wastebasket installed on the side of the toilet.What is a Japanese toilet called? ›
The toilet itself—that is, the bowl or in-floor receptacle, the water tank, et cetera—is called benki (便器). The toilet seat is benza (便座). A potty, either for small children or for the elderly or infirm, is called omaru (sometimes written 御虎子).What do the buttons on a Japanese toilet do? ›
Look out for a panel on the wall or on the side of the toilet seat. There should be two buttons, labelled 小 (small) and 大 (big), possibly at the top of the panel. We'll let you decide which one you need, but simply press either of those to flush it all away.Do you wipe after using a bidet? ›
Wiping after using a bidet is simple. Gently wipe or blot the wet areas to soak up the excess water. Remember that the area is already clean; one gentle wipe or dab should do the trick. We recommend using toilet paper, as most people already have it in their bathrooms, or a towel.How do Japanese clean their toilets? ›
Many proponents of bidets hail them as an alternative to toilet paper, but in Japan they're a team. First, you wipe down with the toilet paper, and then you complete the clean-up with the Washlet spray function. The Washlet is a TOTO trademark that goes back to 1980.How do you use a Japanese toilet seat? ›
To stop the water, you must push the stop button. The Japanese characters at the top translate to water pressure. The LED lights to the left of the two buttons indicates the current strength of the water stream from the bidet. The top button increases the water strength, while the bottom button reduces it.How did they wipe in 1700s? ›
In the 1700s, colonial Americans began using old newspapers and catalogs to wipe. In 1792, American Robert B. Thomas put a hole through the corner of the Old Farmer's Almanac so it could be hung from a hook in the outhouse. The idea was that you could read a page while doing your business, then wipe with it [*][*].Do Japanese bathrooms have paper towels? ›
Many foreign visitors to Japan may notice quickly that in many public restrooms there are neither paper towels nor an air dryer in order to dry their hands, and you may feel funny having to resort to wiping them on your own clothes.Are Japanese toilets sanitary? ›
Japanese toilets are very hygienic, both for the users and for the household. With the aforementioned self-cleaning features, you don't have to roll up your sleeves and brush inside of the toilet. In addition, the nozzle enables you to experience a pleasant feeling of purity every time you've finished using the toilet.
Why are Japanese toilets transparent? ›
For one thing, they are brightly lit and colorful. For another, they are transparent. This way, the logic goes, those who need to use them can check out the cleanliness and safety of the stalls without having to walk inside or touch a thing.What does the O ring in a toilet do? ›
A toilet wax ring prevents leaks from the bottom of the toilet. They're durable and relatively simple to install. If the floor around your toilet stays wet long enough, it becomes spongy. Then the toilet starts to rock, mold grows and the bathroom will smell like a sewer.What do the 2 buttons on the toilet mean? ›
A dual flush button features two buttons that can flush different amounts of water. The main purpose of a dual flush button is to save water. The dual flush button allows the user to control the waste water. The smaller button (half flush) delivers a smaller volume of water than the larger button (full flush).What is blue button on toilet? ›
IT IS FOR WATER CONSERVATION: The larger lever is to flush out around 6 to 9 liters of water, whereas the smaller lever is to flush out around 3 to 4.5 liters of water. Clearly, the larger one is to flush solid waste and the smaller one is to flush liquid waste.How do you dry your privates after using a bidet? ›
If you press the 'Dry' button, provided there is one, the air dryer will dry the area. If you are using the traditional bidet, you can dry using toilet paper or a towel. In most public toilets with bidets, towels are provided on a ring next to it. However, using a paper towel is a more hygienic and safe option.What is proper bidet etiquette? ›
Always clean a public bidet nozzle off with toilet paper (or whatever you have available) before you use it, if you can. If you have a vulva, always direct the stream of water from front-to-back, the same way you would if you were using toilet paper to wipe.Do Japanese wipe? ›
1. Japanese restaurants often provide a small hot towel called an oshibori. This is to wipe your hands but not your face. You may see some Japanese wiping their faces with their oshibori, but sometimes this is considered bad form. If you must use your oshibori on your face, wipe your face first, then your hands.What is a Japanese toilet seat? ›
A Japanese toilet seat (also known as a bidet toilet seat) is an electronic toilet seat which uses water to wash you after using the restroom. But they come with a lot of other features too such as: Built in water heater.How do Japanese people stay so clean? ›
They wash their hands and gargle when they come home from outdoors. They get into the bath and wash themselves before they go to sleep. They even wash their bottoms using shower toilets... All of these activities are common lifestyle customs for people in Japan.Where should you sit on a toilet seat? ›
You should lean forward into a 35 degree angle instead of being up straight at 90 degrees. This is because when you need to go to the toilet, your puborectalis muscle relaxes and the rectum angle widens. The puborectalis muscle is a band that wraps around the lower rectum.
How do they wipe their bum in India? ›
Unlike Westerners, Indians use their hands and water to clean their bottoms. First, they touch the excreta with their fingers and then they clean those fingers subsequently. At one level, this highlights the particular emphasis that the Indian psyche gives to the removal of impure substances from the body.What did cowboys use for toilet paper? ›
Mullein aka “cowboy toilet paper”
If the cowboys used the large velvety leaves of the mullein (Verbascum thapsus) plant while out on the range, then you can too! Mullein is a biennial plant available for use in almost every bioregion.
Stones, sponges-on-a-stick, and wooden sticks are all unique ancient wiping methods. However, throughout time, if a person did not have one of these wiping methods available, they would often resort to the tried and true “closest smooth-ish object” wiping method.Why is there no soap in Japanese bathrooms? ›
Why? Well, that's the way it is in Japan in traditional buildings and clearly it cuts down on installation cost. The idea is to just wash down your hand, not to do a proper hand wash with warm water and soap.Do Japanese bathrooms have mirrors? ›
Japanese Style Bathroom: Accessories
The most important accessory is the mirror - large and rectangular. If possible, there should be a separate mirror over the sink.
The toilets in almost all modern homes and hotels are Western-style. Many Western-style toilets in Japan feature options such as a heated seat, a built-in shower and dryer for your behind and an automatic lid opener.Are Japanese bathrooms waterproof? ›
Japanese bathrooms are usually wet-rooms, so you can spray the water everywhere with careless abandon. Except for (occasionally) fancy bath salts and powder, the bath water should be kept clean, so no washing your hair or lathering up in there.Why does Japan have squat toilets? ›
Although Japanese-style toilets may seem to be doomed to extinction, they are not without their merits. Unlike their sitting counterparts, squat toilets allow for quick and easy bowel movements, as leaning forward in a squat with the legs apart exerts minimal pressure on the intestines and rectum.What does black ring in toilet mean? ›
What Creates Black Rings Inside a Toilet Bowl? Hard Water Deposits: Anytime a surface that comes in contact with your home's water supply on a regular basis such as faucets, shower heads, and toilet bowls, it becomes susceptible to an accumulation of residue.What is the wax ring for? ›
The actual function of a wax ring is to provide an odor proof seal. A toilet has an internal trap, that holds water and keeps the sewer gases out. A seal also needs to be placed between the sewer and the toilet, and that is what the wax ring does.
Whats the small button for in toilet? ›
IT IS FOR WATER CONSERVATION: The larger lever is to flush out around 6 to 9 liters of water, whereas the smaller lever is to flush out around 3 to 4.5 liters of water. Clearly, the larger one is to flush solid waste and the smaller one is to flush liquid waste.What does the 1 and 2 mean on a toilet? ›
to do a "number one": to pee, to urinate. idiom. to do a "number two": to poop, to defecate. idiom. "Number one" and "number two" are expressions often used by parents and children when talking about going to the bathroom.Do you have to hold down the button on a toilet? ›
If the toilet doesn't flush completely unless you hold the handle down for the entire flush cycle, it's usually because the flapper is not fully lifting away from the flush valve. This problem is caused by too much slack in the lifting chain that connects the flush lever to the flapper.What are the 2 holes in a toilet bowl called? ›
Rim holes: The holes which allow water to refill the bowl from around the edge. Jet hole: Some bowls also include an opening near the bottom that increases the flushing pressure. Outlet: The opening at the bottom of the bowl that leads to the trap.How do you use a two button toilet? ›
- Lower the lid of your toilet, to prevent microbes being released into the air.
- Press the smaller of the 2 flush buttons.
- Release the button.
- Your toilet will flush, taking a short time to refill, ready for the next flush.
Is a dual flush toilet worth it? Yes. A dual flush toilet consumes way less water in a 24-hour span compared to a single flush model. When you use a traditional toilet, you are using the same amount of water for liquid and solid waste, which isn't necessary.Are two button toilets better? ›
The difference in buttons depends on the waste in the toilet. One button for liquid waste, another for solid waste. According to studies, this system can help save up to 67 percent of water used to flush, and in return, saves you money.Are Japanese toilets more hygienic? ›
Japanese toilets are very hygienic, both for the users and for the household. With the aforementioned self-cleaning features, you don't have to roll up your sleeves and brush inside of the toilet. In addition, the nozzle enables you to experience a pleasant feeling of purity every time you've finished using the toilet.How do you get dry after using a bidet? ›
Pat dry with toilet paper
Since you're already clean from your bidet, you won't need much toilet paper to do so–just enough to remove any excess water. Use a gentle pat-dry motion instead of a wipe to avoid any irritation. That's all there is to it.
In Japanese homes, the toilet, sink, and shower/bathtub are all in separate designated areas. The toilet will be in its own room, and the sink will be separated from the bathing area by a door creating a barrier between the “wet” area and the “dry” area.
Do Japanese bathrooms have showers? ›
The bathroom in a typical Japanese home consists of two rooms, an entrance room where you undress and which is equipped with a sink, and the actual bathroom which is equipped with a shower and a deep bath tub. The toilet is usually located in an entirely separate room.Why do Japanese use squat toilets? ›
Although Japanese-style toilets may seem to be doomed to extinction, they are not without their merits. Unlike their sitting counterparts, squat toilets allow for quick and easy bowel movements, as leaning forward in a squat with the legs apart exerts minimal pressure on the intestines and rectum.Should you wipe before using bidet? ›
Tips for use
When you first use a bidet, clean off with toilet paper first before attempting the bidet spray. You don't need to use soap to use a bidet. Some people do use the bidet like a mini-shower after a bowel movement, sexual intercourse, or for freshening up, but it isn't a requirement.