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The Foreigner's Guide to a Japanese toilet
The Foreigner’s Guide to a Japanese toilet

Japan is an amazing country to visit because of its fascinating culture, delicious food and kind locals. One of the less-expected perks during my trip was discovering toilets in Japan are the best toilets in the world! A lot of Japan is known by foreigners for being a perfect mashup of historic influences and futuristic aspirations. Nothing will make you feel like you’ve walked through a time portal like stepping into a Japanese bathroom.

Olena from The Travel Bug Bite

Olena Kagui is a bug-biting book-binging blogger bitten by the travel bug bite. Her blog The Travel Bug Bite features travel, entomophagy, book reviews and more

My experiences with a Japanese toilet

Airbnb Experience

The Foreigner's Guide to a Japanese toilet

My first experience with a Japanese toilet was at my cheap Airbnb located on the outskirts of Tokyo. The entire space was small and meticulously clean, as expected. The bathroom was also very compact and the toilet had a seat with various buttons. There was even a mini sink on the back of the toilet, but I had no idea how to operate it.

Sitting down to use the toilet was a little intimidating and I eyed the buttons warily, scared to push the wrong one. As someone who doesn’t enjoy bidets, I decided not to risk anything and got up to flush.

My first surprise was that the sink turned on immediately, allowing me to wash my hands in the clean water that was refilling the bowl. What amazing, water-saving technology, I thought, not realizing that this would be one of the most primitive toilets I’d encounter on my trip.

McDonald’s Experience

The Foreigner's Guide to a Japanese toilet panel

Next, during a long sightseeing day in the centre of Tokyo, I panicked. I needed to use the toilet but the closest place was a McDonald’s. After travelling South-East Asia for over a year, I knew that a McDonald’s toilet was a dangerous place to go. Even in European countries, it is usually
one as bad, if not worse, than a free public bathroom. Not in Japan…

To my immediate horror, I realized that there were only two bathroom stalls and they were unisex. I stood in line worrying about what the men and women coming out of the stalls were leaving behind for me to find. When it was finally my turn, I took a deep breath and entered. At first glance, everything was spotless. I sat down to realize that the toilet seat was warm.

My initial reaction was eww, the person before me heated up the seat. Turns out, the seat was heated!

This time, I was braver to explore so I looked at the 20+ buttons on the side panel. Most were various forms of bidet functions that could clean you in ways most of us couldn’t even imagine. I got brave enough to press the music note button and a nice waterfall sound filled the room.

Perfect for people with shy bladders or anyone who wants their bathroom activities to remain private.

When I rejoined my group outside, they had concerned looks on their faces. ‘Was it horrible?’ they asked me. I snorted with laughter and told them to go pee in the best bathroom I’ve ever been to. Everyone took their turn and we swooned over the awesome toilets, not knowing that
things were only going to get better!

Arcade’s Experience

Japanese toilet displaying Japanese sounds

A few hours and beers later, nature called again, disrupting our arcade fun. We walked by noisy flashing machines into an equally exciting bathroom. The men’s room, I was told, was especially fascinating. It was all in Japanese so we can only guess what was happening, but it looked like the urinal was analyzing the pee.

These toilets in Japan had a screen with a sexy nurse character that was very excited about urination. She told the user how much they peed as well as some other information that remained a mystery to us.

There are some things that one doesn’t necessarily want to know. But the fact that such technology exists is mind-blowing. Clearly, the rest of the world is far behind Japan when it comes to toilets amongst many other things.

Overall Experience

Japanese toilet displaying Japanese words at toilet

After spending a week in Japan, we got really spoiled by these smart toilets. Heated seats, relaxing sounds, a myriad bidet functions, water-saving sinks and the occasional cheerleading nurse with mystery info about your urine.

What more could you ask for? It turns out that some Japanese toilets have up to 38 buttons, each with their unique function! Quite a few were
bilingual but most were just in Japanese with braille. Miraculously, every single toilet we saw was also perfectly clean.

Japan was one of the coolest places I have ever visited. One week was definitely not enough time to enjoy everything the country had to offer. It wasn’t even enough time to fully enjoy Tokyo.

It is a truly amazing city with some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. The locals were always polite and courteous even while squeezed by metro staff into sardine-packed subway cars. Last but not least, toilets in Japan are some of the cleanest, most modern toilets that exist on planet Earth. I am counting down the days to revisit this awesome place!

Have you experienced a Japanese toilet? Let us know in the comment section below. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, feel free to DM us on Instagram or message us on Facebook Messenger! We would love to talk with you!


Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!


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