Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Many Wonders of Japanese Toilets

Japanese toilets have a reputation for being very advanced and equipped with extra features. So, when our plane landed at Tokyo's Narita Airport, I was eager to find a lavatory for numerous reasons. Outside each entrance to the men's and women's toilets, a handy map was displayed on the wall.

How do I get out of here? Oh, thank goodness there's a map.

I'm sure this comes in handy if you become so totally lost in the bathroom that you can't find your way from the loo to the sinks. Or perhaps it's so you know you're waiting in line for 5 Western toilets and 2 squat potties.

On the outside of each stall, there are icons showing you what's inside. Door #1: Squat potty. Door #2 Western potty. I bet you can guess which one I was waiting for. But wait! What are all those other icons? I chose the one with the most signs.

Top to bottom: Western toilet, baby rest, washlet

Moms of babies and toddlers will surely appreciate the baby rest. I've seen a few in the USA, but these seem to be better constructed. Plus, it frees up your hands to play with all the washlet functions.

My girl was bummed that she was too old to try this out.

Ahhh, the washlet. The highlight of the Japanese toilet experience. For some reason, I actually looked into installing one in my Texas bathroom. It was over US$1000!!! That's just for the fancy seat, not the toilet itself. Needless to say, I decided against it.

Who needs to read on the throne when you can play with all this?

The controls are within easy reach just to the right of the seat. Information overload. What do all those icons mean? Never fear. "How to Use" instructions for "Equipment to cleansing the buttocks with warm water" are posted on the wall.

I can attest that the pink button, 3rd from the left, does not raise you up into the air on a geyser of water as the picture suggests. The musical note button, furthest to the right, plays a recorded flushing noise. Supposedly, Japanese women would be so embarrassed by the noise of any bodily function that they would continuously flush the toilet to cover up the sound. Now, they can just play a recording without wasting water. The washlet is 100X tidier than the flexible hose of Malaysian public toilets.

The toilet at our hotel was even fancier. It actually kind of surprised me when I opened the door, and the lid opened all by itself. I was going to post a video, but I'm guessing you can probably imagine it. There were complicated controls mounted on the wall. At first, I didn't try them out because it was all in Japanese. When you're dealing with that area of the body, you should exercise a little caution. Luckily, our other room had English translations on it.

Controlling the most magical toilet in the world

Its many features included:
  • Unisex soft spray or regular "almost an enema" spray for cleansing of the backside
  • Bidet cleansing for the ladies
  • Oscillating water action
  • Water massage (pulsating action)
  • Water pressure control
  • Adjustable nozzle position
  • Power deodorizer
  • Seat warmer (plus a warning not to accidentally burn yourself)
  • Gentle air drying
  • Dual action flushing
  • Button for raising/lowering the lid
  • Button for raising the seat
  • Automatic flushing
  • STOP
My kids tell me that if you don't sit on it just right, you can shoot water across the room.

Given how hi-tech their toilets are, I was glad to see that at least I understood the basic usage of the Western toilet. Those who are accustomed to squat toilets (also available in many Japanese public restrooms), may have had a harder time with the rudimentary details, so signs were posted for those as well.

What to do? Oh, I see. Lower one part and sit on it.

This one's my favorite. It's from the Mount Fuji First Station lavatory that featured foam flushing instead of water flushing.

Does the person in the top right have
any chance of successfully hitting the target?


  1. I love this post. It brought back Tokyo memories. One of my kids best memory of Japan is that they had the "best toilets ever" =) Those squat toilets were something else and I still haven't seen those baby rest here in the US.

  2. Oh, I laughed and laughed at this one. Singapore toilets are totally boring! My husband brings back photos and videos of some of the more interesting ones he finds. I think the Japanese toilets have to be some of the most complicated I've seen. I'm loving the signs as well. LOL!

    1. But Singapore is where I saw my first odd toilet, way back inthe 90s. It was a stand-up female urinal. It was mostly like a regular Western potty but without a seat, and kind of shaped like a bicycle seat so gals could back in and hover without having such a wide stance.

    2. I have not seen one of those but I'll be on the look out now! LOL! Perhaps I'm just hanging out in the wrong areas. I think I need to get out to the heartlands to see the cooler stuff.


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