Once you landed in Japan, one of the things that will really catch your attention is their toilets (toire or otearai in Japanese). They are very fancy, clean and huge but can also give you some headache. You heard it right! Japanese toilets can be complicated if you don’t know the proper way of using them. My first encounters with these toilets were not too smooth since I spent a lot of time inside the stall wondering what button is safe to press.
But after a few minutes of thinking and trying to analyze each button, I finally found what I’ve been looking for. THE FLUSH! I was so glad at that time, imagining the trouble I would be in if I pressed the wrong button. When we use toilets, we normally need one button and that is the FLUSH BUTTON. Although some of the Japanese toilets are automatic, you will still encounter many manually operated ones. Let me show you some pictures of different types of toilet panels, and explain how to find the flush button.
The picture above shows the usual signs for flush button and it has two options 小 (chisaii/small) and 大 (okii/big). Just use your imagination to figure out which goes with what, but the point is less water can be used when possible. The reason behind is to conserve water.
You may also encounter this type of flush. Again you have the choose from “small” and “big” flushing options.
The picture above is that of a sensor type flush, where you just have to place your hand over the sensor and the toilet will flush automatically.
This one is a press type flush. Just press the big button on the right to begin flushing
another type of toilet button is the one you saw above where in the flush functions are located on top.
Just press it down to begin flushing.
This last picture you see is not a flush button, but an “otohime” (sound princess if translated literally). This is a small electronic device usually located inside the toilet stalls, that produces the loud noises similar to flushing sound.
In Japan, people can be very particular about their privacy and so some feel embarrassed to make any sound when using a public bathroom. Therefore, this device, that automatically produces the sound of running water for about 25 seconds as you sit down, can be found in most public restrooms. Some are manual, in that case just hold or tap the button and this device will provide a flushing sound.
So, here are the common types. I can understand Japanese and read some kanji but the FLUSH can sometimes be just really difficult to find.
Better be ready than sorry and embarrassed in a foreign country!
You can visit Bidet.org if you’re looking for information on buying a bidet.