Japanese Toilets: From Squatting to Robotic

Japanese toilets are different. This is mine. It’s why Japanese often say “I’m going to the toilet” rather than “I’m going to the bathroom.”

Japanese Toilet

The Japanese toilet a small room that feels as cramped as it looks. Not that you need much room to do your business, but I’ve hit my head on the door a few times getting up. Fortunately, what it lacks in space it apologizes for with other conveniences.

This is a toilet seat with benefits. The first thing you notice upon sitting down on a real Japanese toilet is the heated seat. This is the only function that I use, though I have taken advantage of the oshiri (butt) wash feature when I forget to buy toilet paper.

Japanese Toilet Control Panel

The bidet–that’s “bi-de”–is for ladies. There’s a massage feature that alternates water pressure, if you’re into that. You even can change the temperature of both seat and water, then switch to energy saving mode if you’re feeling conservative, but not enough to sacrifice a heated Japanese toilet seat. Adding to this eco-friendly feature is the water-saving and completely useless small flush (the Japanese on top of the handle) instead of a large flush (bottom.) I should add that my particular toilet is reversed from normal handles. I don’t know why. Maybe they heard I was coming.

Japanese Toilet Handle

There are other, better toilets. If you go to a high-class restaurant, you might get to use one. It will open automatically upon entry and play soothing sounds to cover up…yours. In nicer department stores, while the toilet might be more normal, you will be provided sanitary spray to sanitize the toilet seat before you sit down, removing any need to armor your butt with a protective layer of Japanese toilet paper (which is longer than the U.S. stuff) over the seat.

Toilet Sanitizer

But, don’t expect every toilet to be like this. Some older buildings will have toilets that look like they belong in airplanes. And some public bathrooms are very public.

Japanese Public Toilet

Then there are the Japanese squatting toilets.

Japanese Squatting Toilet

I don’t recommend attempting these. Some stalls will give you a bar to cling to while you squat, but most will not. You are stuck with either maintaining absolute perfect balance or stabilizing yourself on the plumbing. Neither is much fun. It’s rather uncomfortable for Japanese as well. Most Japanese I’ve spoken with on the subject tell me they would prefer sitting to the squatting toilets. That said, if you go to a department store or rest stop there will likely be a choice between the two. Or not.

Before I came here I heard a lot of people saying that a lot of Japanese bathrooms won’t offer toilet paper, and that you have to bring your own. So far, I have never been in a bathroom that didn’t. I have, however, been in many that did not offer paper towels or soap. That can be a problem. Unless you don’t wash you hands. Then it’s okay.

But besides the actual facilities, there are other things you should know about bathrooms here.


Regarding cleaning staff. If the building janitors are Japanese Old Ladies, they will likely come into the bathroom unannounced and won’t care if you are a man or woman or young or old or doing your business or not. They’ll sweep right under the door and around the toilet if you are in the stall and right beside your feet as you use the urinal. There is no helping this. Old ladies here don’t care about you or your feelings so you’d better just shut up and get out of their way. Guys, if you’re at the urinal and they come in, just lean in a little more. Or not.


Also, if you do make any Japanese friends and are lucky enough to get invited to their house, there is a bit of bathroom etiquette. Just like you take your shoes off before coming into a Japanese house, you should wear the bathroom slippers in the bathroom. Don’t forget to take them off after you finish! If you live here, you should also buy a pair and place them in your bathroom so your Japanese friends won’t think you’re gross. Whether you actually choose to wear them though is up to you. Just don’t tell your friends that you don’t.

Bathroom Slippers

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10 Comments on “Japanese Toilets: From Squatting to Robotic”

  1. emilybean2013
    May 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Wow, I’ve heard about Japanese toilets and how technological they are, certainly beats any UK toilets! I’ve never heard about a squatting toilet though-definalty a tricky one (imagine being drunk and trying that!) Useful bit of info about the cleaning ladies 😀

    • introvertnathan
      May 31, 2013 at 12:54 am #

      Oh, wow…I never thought about that. Being drunk and using one. Sounds messy.

  2. rose2852
    May 31, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    Ah, you beat me to it! The Japanese toilet begs a post….maybe I’ll still do it!

    • introvertnathan
      May 31, 2013 at 12:55 am #

      Japanese toilets can never have too many posts about them! Send me a link when you finish!

  3. Lynn
    May 31, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    I think the music playing is a wonderful idea to drown out the noise. Some people just cough here to keep their business quiet!

    • introvertnathan
      May 31, 2013 at 1:45 am #

      Haha. Though it is strange to suddenly here nature sounds in the bathroom when you’re not expecting it.

  4. i*Kan
    July 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Haha, didn’t realize you had blogged about this too Nathan! Still catching up with your archives. Have u done a post on onsens? Definitely deserves one!

    • introvertnathan
      July 2, 2013 at 12:54 am #

      Onsens? Lol, no, not yet. They are not my favorite thing in the world, unless they’re private, lol. But the world can never have enough blogging about J toilets! I’d love to read it.


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