How to use Japanese toilets and proper etiquette.

Every time I ran into any issues while we were in Japan I knew I just had to turn to my wife and get my answer. Whether it would be getting help with translating, converting currency or what not to do so I don’t make a fool of myself.  Unfortunately that was not available every time I stepped into a restroom.

Western or Japanese Style Toilets: There are 2  types of toilets in Japan. The Western style that would have a toilet seat. Then there’s the  Japanese style that is not raised from the toilet floor and would have you squat down instead of sitting. Funny enough I actually had issues with both.

The Western style  which I am used to should be easy enough to operate. However in Japan most of them are more complicated Washlets  made by TOTO, with all sorts of buttons, symbols and controls mostly in Japanese. I had no idea most of the time which one was the flush button and ended up guessing .It usually was the biggest button isolated from the rest of the smaller ones. It’s never a good time to be guessing which buttons to press while sitting on a toilet.

The Japanese style is still common and surprisingly can even be found at most modern restrooms . Aside from the squatting bit this one is pretty straightforward, no complicated buttons except for the flush button or lever. My main issue was which direction to face. It’s counter intuitive but you actually have to face the direction where the flush lever is as opposed to where you would think  if you’re used to using western style toilets.

Japanese style (Washiki) toilet

This is how you use it

Tiny sink on top of toilet tank : I’ve never seen this before but some of the Western style toilets in Japan had a small sink on top of the tank . After you flush ,the faucet would automatically start running water into the sink that would then drain into ,and fill the toilet tank. This allows you to conserve water by letting you wash your hand with water before it goes into the toilet tank for the next flush. I thought that was ingenious !

Restroom Slippers :Japanese restrooms in hotels, Ryokans (Japanese inns) and homes have a set of slippers to be used only inside the restroom. Every time I entered I had to remember to leave my slippers outside and put on the restroom slippers.More importantly,  I then have to remember to change back to my own slippers and not take the restroom slippers outside . This was very hard to do when we stayed in a hostel with a shared washroom and all guests had the same slippers.

No towels for your wet hands :  Aside for some that had air dryers ,most of the public restrooms I went to in Japan had no paper towels to dry your hands with so be always ready by carrying around towelettes or a handkerchief.

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