Tales of a Tokyo Toilet

A real delight of Japan is the comfort of the high tech Japanese toilets.

I had discovered these while previously working in Japan as a ski instructor. We were not lucky enough to have this in our staff accommodation but we soon became regulars at the local Onsen (natural hot springs) and the toilets here were a real luxury. Guy and I were fortunate to have one such toilet in our Tokyo hotel which I was thrilled about and Guy apparently slightly nervous of. He approached it with some trepidation, but was a convert in no time at all. In fact we missed it as soon as we left Japan.


If you are visiting Japan the best approach, I think, is experimentation! Some models do not have romaji on them, and certainly no translations to help you out. This said there seems to be a fairly universal toilet symbol system going on in Japan, so it’s easy once you’ve worked things out to continue your business without embarrassment. Here’s a rundown and some things to avoid, learnt the hard way from my own and friends experiences.


First up the heated seat is a joy on a winter’s day in Japan this will usually be automatic so just sit back and enjoy. Another button of note is one that has a musical note on it, this generally plays a fake flush sound, birds tweeting or music to cover your less polite ablutions! Perfect for those who get stage fright in public toilets. Next up for the ladies there is a spray angled towards the back of the toilet, usually represented as such on the button and often in pink. Little word of warning here ladies, do not spread your legs as you may get a jet to the face! The unisex button is a seated stick figure with the jet angled toward the front of the toilet or sometimes appears as a bum outline and often in blue. In no circumstance should you press this button when not sat down, you will flood the bathroom, a ski instructor friend of mine found this out the hard way and there were many profanities from the cubicle! With both these jets there are often plus and minus buttons these are for the power of the jet. 

I would recommend starting at the lowest and working your way up to a comfortable pressure as the feeling can be a bit alarming to begin with, some also have a similar set of buttons for a back and forth motion of the jet itself. To finish your experience there will be a button with a wave like symbol on it, press this for a blow dry and when you are finished the toilets generally flush automatically when you stand. Finally, if at any point you are overly alarmed by a function then there is a stop button often plain and orange, pretty important if you ignored any of my tips not to press buttons while not sat down!

So there we have it, the wonderfully inventive Japanese toilet, a treat for the cheeks! Sit down and embrace it and you will not be disappointed.

Shrieks of delight and surprise are almost guaranteed on your first visit so take some friends with you for additional comedy value!

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