Highly Popular among Foreign Tourists! How to Use Japanese High-Tech Toilets
Many people stop by a toilet at the airport soon after arriving in Japan.
Japanese high-tech toilets have surprisingly advanced functions. Many foreign tourists who visit Japan for the first time are surprised at the clean toilets and confused about how to use it. Welcome to Japanese high-tech toilets which many celebrities in the world including Madonna and Will Smith are fascinated with and purchased the washlet for their own homes.
(Source：ルートレス / PIXTA)
This type of toilet in the photo is seen not only at the airport, but also most hotels, department stores, and sightseeing places. It is very comfortable once you know how to use it. Let’s learn about Japanese high-tech toilets here and you can also help your friends to use one.
1. Most Japanese Toilets Can Be Used for Free
There is no custom to pay for toilets in Japan. Most public toilets can be used for free with only some exceptions like the ones at the basement of Shinjuku station, the busiest area in Tokyo. It is a welcome change for people from European countries where you have to pay for public toilets and some Asian countries where people pay for toilets at bus terminals.
2. Clean Toilets
Most Japanese public toilets are cleaned regularly by professionals. When people use a clean toilet, they tend to use it nicely. You won’t see many dirty toilets in Japan.
（Source：bee / PIXTA)
3. Toilet with a Seat
It is said that there are toilets without seats in some countries. All the western-style toilets in Japan are with seats which you can sit on.
4. Paper to Cover the Seat
Most toilets in the airports, department stores, and shopping malls are equipped with seat papers to cover the seat. Many Japanese people are fussy about cleanliness and use this paper. It can be flushed after use.
（Source：Leftamazon Right e-shizai)
5. Toilets for Kids
Toilets for kids can be seen at some airports, department stores, and shopping malls. When your child says “I gotta go pee, now!”, you don’t have to wait in line with other adults but just go to these toilets for kids!
6. Emergency Button
These days many toilets have an emergency button in case of an emergency such as when an elderly person gets sick or the one with chronic diseases has an attack in the cubicle. Please do not confuse it with the flush button!
7. Toilet Paper is Soft and Soluble in Water
Most public toilets in Japan are equipped with soft toilet paper. It is of course soluble in water and can be flushed after use. Sometimes you will see the toilet paper edge folded in a triangular shape. This is the sign letting you know that the toilet has been cleaned. This custom is said to be started by the Imperial Hotel in Japan.
(Source：momo / PIXTA)
It is best to learn how to use Japanese high-tech toilets at the airport, because the toilets there have labels written in some different languages. In other places, it might have a label written only in Japanese, so let’s take this chance here to memorize which button does what. The shower in the right of the photo is for ostomate, so don’t use it otherwise. There are not many toilets with this shower unit.
Now, sit on the toilet. You might see the sign about how to sit on the toilet. It is not needed for most people because western-style toilets are widely used in many parts of the world today. It is for those people who still haven’t used one before. In Japan, toilet paper can be flushed after use. In various areas in the world including some Asian countries, the toilet paper cannot be flushed into the toilet because of the drainage pipes not being wide enough or toilet paper that isn’t soluble in water. In Japan, it is okay to flush toilet paper into the toilet.
When you sit on the toilet seat…it is warm! The seat has a seat heater, a very nice function especially in cold winters. Then, you will see many buttons like this… They are too confusing even with English labels.
(Source：海外反応I LOVE JAPAN）
This is a high function Japanese toilet that amazes many foreign tourists!
The blue button with the bottom mark is to wash your behind. You can control the water pressure with －, ＋ buttons. Front, rear buttons are to adjust the position to fit each person. The button to the right, the one with a mark of a woman on sprayed water is for bidet used by women to clean after taking a piss. The water pressure and the position for bidet also can be controlled with －, ＋ buttons and front, rear buttons. The yellow button with wavy mark is to dry your wet behind after washing. The orange button on the left side is the stop button to stop any functions. The toilets at the airports have a notice with detailed information on how to use the toilet. It might be handy if you take a photo of this notice. You can use the photo to refer to when you are confused with the buttons and marks at a toilet somewhere later.
The mysterious panel next to the buttons is the machine called “Otohime” in Japan. It makes fake sound of water to drown your fart noises. It depends on your culture if you are worried about other people might hear the sound you make in a toilet, and Japanese people prefer it not to be heard. Many Japanese people used to flush to jam the toilet noise while they are doing the business and flush again after use. “Otohime” was invented to reduce this waste of flushing water. The type in the photo can be activated by holding your hand over the sensor.
Here’s another button. This one is to flush.
Sometimes you will see the flushing button on a panel along with other buttons. Remember the Japanese character, “流す”.
Have you seen this board attached to the wall inside the cubicle?
When you pull the board down, you will have a space to step on. This is a board for those who want to change clothes in the toilet cubicle. To use this board, take off your shoes and change clothes without making your clothes dirty with your shoes or the floor. Sometimes you want a space to change clothes before taking another flight after flying for a long time to come to Japan from another country, or when you go back to your country after your trip in Japan. This is a very thoughtful equipment, isn’t it?
There are still Japanese-style toilets among public toilets in Japan, although not so many. If any, there are usually both western-style toilets and Japanese-style toilets in one restroom so that you can choose. However, there is a high possibility that you can only find Japanese style toilets at small train stations or the countryside, and temporary toilets set up at events like festivals and firework displays are also Japanese style. People from South East Asia and China are familiar to this style, but for people from western countries and other countries using western-style toilets, this might be an intimidating experience.
(Source：ルートレス / PIXTA)
You should crouch down over the toilet facing the cover like the illustration shows. Lift up the lever attached to the tank to flush. Toilet paper can be flushed after use.
Now you know well how to use Japanese high-tech toilets and Japanese-style toilets. Especially high-tech toilets are very comfortable once you know how to use it. Make the most of those comfortable toilets and have a nice trip in Japan!
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IKIDANE NIPPON Editor Senior Travel Writers