Using the Toilet in Japan

I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to Japanese public washrooms. Seriously, I have never experienced such consistently clean and comfortable bathrooms! This may seem like an odd post, but I love me a good bathroom. When you are out walking around all day and need to use the toilet, it’s nice to know you’ll be able to find something that doesn’t make you feel like you are going to catch some weird disease just by stepping foot in the place. Here are 7 good-to-know facts about Japanese public washrooms!

1. High tech toilets

Many Japanese toilets come with an array of buttons. Some examples of what these buttons might include are: a bidet for the back, a bidet for the front, the sound of running water to mask your own sounds, a heated toilet seat, etc. Personally, I loved all the heated toilet seats. Too much info? My bad.

2. Low tech toilets

You may come across a “Japanese style” toilet. These look like urinals in the floor. Basically, you stand and squat over them. Don’t want to squat and pee? No worries, I never came across a bathroom that didn’t also have a “Western” style toilet. If there is a line up and a Japanese style toilet is the only one available, just let the next in line go ahead of you until your toilet of choice becomes available. I saw some older Japanese women do this and it seemed socially acceptable. Be adventurous and give it a try though, it’s not so bad!

3. No paper towel in bathrooms

Very few bathrooms (if any) have paper towel to dry your hands with after washing up. Most women carry a little handkerchief in their purses to dry their hands. This was something I found strange but got used to with time. I’m pretty sure this is part of why the bathrooms were so clean though. You didn’t have paper towel lying all over the ground from people missing the garbage. It also cuts down on waste as everyone uses their own reusable towels!

4. Toilets are easy to find in train stations

Need to pee? Head to a train station! Bathrooms are easy to come by in the stations and the stations are easy to come by in most major cities. Problem solved! It’s no fun spending your trip worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to find a bathroom when you need one!

5. Toilets are easy to find…everywhere!

When Ried and I were hiking in Miyajima we found ourselves in a park where we were the only ones in site. It was pretty and calm and lots of deer were roaming around. We also found ourselves some toilets! (The fancy “Western” style too!)

6. Bathrooms are free

When in various countries I’ve often had to pay to use a bathroom (Mexico, France, etc.). In Japan all the toilets are free. Yay!

7. You can’t be guaranteed to find soap in a bathroom

Just a heads up, there isn’t always soap in the bathrooms. So pack your own or just use a lot of friction (that’s the most important part of washing your hands anyways). Restaurants and convenience stores always give you wipes or wet cloths to wash your hands with before you eat so you can rest assured you’ll get a chance to wash up before touching your food.

Hope you found this post helpful in preparing for your trip to Japan and I hope you find using the toilet in Japan as enjoyable an experience as I did!


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