Public Restrooms in Japan: a How-To

Public Restrooms in Japan: a How-To


Using restrooms in different countries can be intimidating. Let's take a look at the proper way to go about your business while in Japan.

Translated byAllie

A nomad traveler, teacher and translator. Speaks English, Japanese, basic Chinese and some Russian.

Written by OnoYasuhiro

The public toilets sometimes make you confused how to use them when you travel since types and ways of using them are different from country to country
However, it could be embarrassed to ask about it to people, couldn't it?

Photo by nanao wagatsuma

So I'm going to teach you how to use public toilets in Japan. As you might know that, toilets, bathrooms, restrooms whatever you call it, those in Japan have good reputations from all over the world, which people say that the best toilets in the world or the toilets are equipped with the most various kinds of functions.

The places where you can find the public toilets

You can find the public toilets in parks, stations, department stores and restaurants. You are not going to have hard time to find them.
If you need to go to the toilet,

You can try to look for this sign above or ask "toirewa doko desuka? (where is the toilet in Japanese).

※ Japanese people don't call toilets "bathrooms, restrooms or WC" either. We say "Toire" as toilets.

Using the bathroom in Japan is free

Most of the public toilets also have toilet paper for free.

You don't need to prepare changes for using the public toilets and paper at all.

What should you do with the used toilet paper?

You can flush the used toilet paper into the toilet.

There are trash cans in women's toilets. But these are for used sanitary products, not for used toilet paper.

Toilet paper in Japan dissolves easily in water. Japan also has a well organized and operated sewer system. It is totally ok to throw the used toilet paper in the toilet.

But here is the thing. You can only flush used toilet paper and your business. Even Japan has the well organized and operated sewer system, you can not throw everything into the toilet. It might make you get in trouble. So please throw away used sanitary products and used diapers in the trash can.

Public toilets in Japan :types and ways of using them

I'm going to explain how to use public toilets in Japan.
There are three types of toilets in Japan.

  • The first one: Japanese-style toilets

This kind of toilets are getting less and less these day. This is the style of toilets you usually find in Asian countries.
You will see this kind of toilets in rest areas along highways. Some of the toilets could be this type out of others.

All you need to do is just to stand over and squat down. But the most important thing is the correct direction to squat down. As you can see a picture below, you need to squat down facing the hood of the toilet called "Kinkakushi". The door is usually behind you when you do so. Pull your pants down and good to go. Just Do It!

Please do not sit on the Kinkakushi(the raised hood)

When you flush, you will use the the lever in front of you.

  • The second one: western-style toilets

As you know, Western-style toilets are the ones you sit down on the toilet like when you do on chairs.

Open the lid,

Then sit down on the toilet. Pull your pants down and leave your legs on the ground. Just Do It!

You can not stand up with your feet on the toilet.

Men just need to lift the seat up first unless you need to set down to do your business.

When you flush the toilet, you will turn the lever like the one in the picture above. You might find toilets which has the button, the sensor system or even the automatic flushing system.
Two letters, "big (大) and small (小)" are written on the lever, which shows how much water you will use to flush the toilet. If you flush the used toilet paper, you should turn the lever to the side "big (大)". If not, the other way around.

Photo byDebs (ò‿ó)♪

If you see a control panel like a picture above, the part circled red is the button for flushing.
If you use the toilet just with one button, you just need to press it.
If it is the sensor system, you need to put your hand over.

Can't you see any of those?
The lever would be in front or side of you. The button and the sensor system would be on a wall either right or left side.

  • The third one: Urinals (Only for men)

Photo by mooljot

This kind of toilets is the same in everywhere.
You can flush with the button or it will be flushed automatically if you get a little bit away from it.

The summary of public toilets in Japan

I will summarize a way of using public toilets in Japan.

・Don't throw used the toilet paper into the trash can. Please flush it. (But do not flush the used sanitary products.)
・Please flush after using it. (If you don't know which button, written big or small, you should use, just use the one for big.)
・Don't squat down the western-style toilet with your feet.

Each country has its own customs. Toilet etiquette is also different from country to country.
It is said that public toilets in Japan are really neat. It is not because people clean it really well but also because a Japanese national character, people try not to make and leave a mess in places where other people also use it later.

Toilets are the one we need in our life everyday.
Let's use it properly and make our life easier.

Related topics