Some Manners To Understand Before Using a Public Toilet in Japan

  • HOW TO
  • Japan is well-known for having the tidiest public toilets in the world. Somebody might even consider Japanese toilets the best of those they got to use. It is because the manner of keeping the public toilets clean is in Japanese mentality, and this results in the clean toilets available to everyone. Moreover, public toilets in Japan are free, and easy to find since they are nearly everywhere in Japan, you can mostly find them in public parks, department stores, and train stations. Therefore, we, visitors, must too, help keep the Japanese toilets as tidy as possible.

    Today, we would like to give you a few tips about using the Japanese public toilets and the common manners of toilet use.

    When you travel abroad, you often face a problem of the cultural differences regarding the restroom use. And, of course, the Japanese public toilets may cause you some trouble due to the high-technology systems. Moreover, the toilets only have descriptions written in Japanese. When most people use it, they may realize that they can not understand what exactly to press and how to flash a toilet. Therefore, let’s check the styles of the toilets in Japan first.

    Commonly, there are two main styles of the toilets in Japan:

    1. Squat toilet

    The Japanese-style flush toilet is a traditional squat toilet. It has the shape as shown in the photo above. This style of toilets has been widely used before World War II, so there is no complicated system behind it. The right way to use it by squatting facing its head.
    In some toilets, there will be a bar near the head of the toilet for you to hold while squatting.

    If you sit in the opposite way, some of the business may get stuck and not flush away. This could lead to the bad smell in the toilet and frequent need of maintenance. Therefore, please use the Japanese squat toilet in the right way to keep it clean.

    2. Western-style toilet

    The western-style flush toilets also have “electronic bidets” most of the time. This toilet has a shape everyone is used to. Most such toilets have paper seat covers in a dispenser nearby, or a spirits dispenser that activates when you place a piece of toilet paper underneath it. You can either use a cover and throw it away afterwards, or wipe the seat with spirits. Do not squat on top of the toilet seat. It could break the seat and lead to an injury. Moreover, it will make the toilet seat dirty; you would not like to be the next person to use it after that. And one of the most important manners for males is, of course, to pull up the toilet seat before using the toilet.

    When you finish with your stuff, you may find yourself struggling with a significant problem that many visitors also do:

    Which button to press?

    Here is the guide of how to use the essential functions that will help you use the toilet without calling for help and embarrassing yourself.

    Some control systems have two buttons with the signs “大 (Dai)” and “小 (Shou).” These Chinese characters mean “big” and “small” respectively. Both buttons are for flushing. However, the “大” button is the stronger flush for, you guessed it, bigger business. On the other hand, “小” button is the lighter flush. If you are looking for a flush, you should find the button with one of these two characters. However, it is always safe to push the “大” button. In some places, there is only one flush button or the flush function is activated by the sensor that starts it once you stand up. In that case you sometimes won’t find either “大” or “小” buttons.

    Besides the flush function, there are three more that you should know about. First is “おしり(Oshiri)” button which activated a bidet for washing your behind. Usually, there is a picture of spray water and, well, a bum, so that you can easily recognize its function. Second, the “ビデ(Bidet)” button is also for washing, but it is specifically for women. You can recognize the button with the sign of a woman and spray water. The last one is the stop button that usually has a different color from other buttons. It also has the character “止” that means “stop”, which you need to press BEFORE attempting to stand up.

    One thing that is very specific to Japanese bathrooms, however, is 乙姫(otohime) button, which normally has musical notes on it. Pressing this button activates a flashing background sound that provides privacy to whoever is using a cubicle. Another thing that make the entire experience even more private is the fact that almost all the toilet cubicles are separated from each other entirely, that’s right, no gaps in the walls above or under!

    Knowing all these basic functions, you will now be able to use a Japanese bidet toilet without complications.

    What should I do with the used toilet paper?

    Toilet paper is another issue over which many Japanese people are not satisfied with the visitors. In Japan, unlike in many neighbouring countries, you are supposed to throw the used toilet paper inside the toilet, and flush it away. Since Japan has a stronger plumbing system, the paper will not get stuck in the drain. If you put the used toilet paper in the garbage bin, it will smell up the toilet room bothering other people. However, it does not mean that you can throw other things into the toilet. Things such as sanitary napkins, should be thrown away in the provided garbage bin.

    These are the main things that anyone using a toilet in Japan should be aware of. Some cultural differences might make you feel uncomfortable depending on where you come from, but you can see that all the rules are only there for keeping the public toilets as clean as possible. That makes Japan one of the best places in the world to use a public toilet!

    1. Luz says:

      I want to add that now most of the public toilet in Japan specially in malls uses electronic sensor…some toilet has a hand image on a button indicating you place your open hand, palm facing the button to flush the toilet…but other toilet has no image and you just have to be keen on looking and trying any button that may look like a sensor for flushing. It usually looks like a stainless steel bulging button that will only work if you place your open hand near it (not necessarily touching it…near enough for it to sense your hand)

    2. bopi says:

      I guessed that is a toilet at Driver City Odaiba :p

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