A Quick Guide to Using Japanese Bathrooms

  • HOW TO
  • The bathroom is essential to life, after all, it is where you do your business. There are a few key differences between your standard Japanese and foreign bathroom, that you may not be aware of.

    The Layout


    Japanese bathrooms are constructed very differently from their western counterparts. Namely, the bath and bathtub are usually in a different room from the toilet. At first this may seem odd to foreigners but think of it for a second. No more pounding on the door when you need to pee and mom is doing her makeup. No more ‘pee-pee’ dances in the hall while waiting for dad to shave. Genius, really.

    The Equipment


    While most people stock up on a bathmat and toothbrush holder, Japanese bathrooms have a few different items that are standard.

    First of all, you need a stool. What? A stool? This is not a bar! The stool is essential. Japanese people sit on the stool, scrub up, get clean, and then soak in the tub. The stool allows for relaxation whilst cleansing. Get yourself a stool.


    Japanese bathrooms also have buckets. Buckets are cool! They aren’t only for hauling apples! Japanese buckets are used to rinse your hair, face, and other bits. Get a bucket. They are cool.

    The Facilities


    The most important facility, of course, is the toilet itself. Although slightly unspeakable it is an essential part of everyday life. Gone are the days of freezing your keister off on a cold throne, many Japanese bathrooms come with a heated seat and washlet. The heating feature allows you to avoid late night screams as your delicates touch the seat, and the washlet, essentially pressure-washes all your nooks and crannies. No more worries about clingers and stray stinky bits!


    On the other side of that coin is the traditional Japanese squatter toilet. May the sweet Buddha help you if you rent a place with one of these, as I have done. They require balance, precision, and a lack of shame, but are apparently better for your digestive tract. Not to get into explicit details, but us Japanese can use these without taking off all our clothes. Many foreigners, on the other hand, strip down to their birthday suit, say a quick prayer, and do their business. It is an acquired skill. Do what I did, buy a western toilet attachment that goes right over that evil sucker so you can sit relaxedly and read your comics. While pooping.



    Japanese tubs, on the other hand, tend to be smaller than their western counterparts. More for soaking deeply, rather than stretching out leisurely. This is a changing trend, however, with many modern bathrooms offering leg room and more room for bubbles. Who doesn’t love bubbles? Enjoy the bubbles. Soak a little.


    As whole families share the tub water (after washing of course) we want to the retain the heat as much as possible. Therefore, the bathtub cover comes in handy. Keep in that heat for the next person!

    Now, go out and enjoy the world of Japanese bathing! Scrub scrub!