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Public Restrooms In Japan - A How To Guide

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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.

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Public toilets differ from country to country and can be quite confusing to use properly if you are traveling. But having to ask someone about how to use the toilet is embarrassing, isn't it?


Photo by Pixta

So in this article, we'll go over how public toilets in Japan work. As you may already know, toilets, bathrooms, restrooms, whatever you call them, those in Japan have great reputations not only for their cleanliness, but also for the multitude of functions that they are equipped with.

Where Can You Find Public Washrooms?

You can find the highest number of 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?). Toilets are not called "bathrooms, etc" in Japanese, as in most homes, the actual toilet is separated from the bath/shower facilities.

Public Bathrooms - Free to Use

The vast majority of public toilets in Japan are free to use and have free toilet paper as well. Some also have free hand sanitizer, and other amenities.

Disposing of Toilet Paper

You can flush the used toilet paper down the toilet.

There are trash cans in women's toilets, but they are for sanitary products only.
Japanese toilet paper is designed to easily dissolve in water, and Japan has a very advanced, well operated sewer system, so you need not worry about flushing toilet paper down the drain. However, you cannot flush anything else down the toilet; used diapers and sanitary items must be disposed of in the appropriate bins.

The Types of Public Toilets

There are three types of toilets in Japan.

1. Japanese Style Toilets

This type of toilet is becoming less and less common in the city, but can still be readily found outside major cities and in rural areas. These toilets are similar to those found in other Asian countries. Within the same public bathroom, you may find one stall with this type of toilet still.

All you need to do is just to stand over the basin 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 out of the way and you're good to go.

Please do not sit on the kinkakushi (the raised hood). To flush, just pull or push the lever in front of you.

2. 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 (or it may open automatically for you),

Pull your pants down, and do your business.

Don't squat on the seat, or put your feet on it.


Photo by Pixta

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Men should lift the seat if the urinals are all occupied, otherwise, these toilets can be used as it.

世界一キレイ? 和式ってなに? 日本のトイレの使い方

Photo by Pixta

To flush the toilet, just turn the lever like the one in the above photo. Some toilets have a button, an automatic sensor, or other means of flushing the toilet. On some handles, you'll see characters like in the photo above. The top one means "big/large" and the bottom means "small/light".  Which way you turn the handle depends on you.

3. Urinals for Men


Photo by Pixta

Urinals in Japan are the same as those overseas. They will either have a lever/button to push, or will flush automatically when you walk away from it.


How are public restrooms in Japan?

Public restrooms in Japan are known for their cleanliness, modern amenities, and efficient maintenance. These facilities offer advanced features like bidet toilets with washing and drying functions, alongside basic supplies such as toilet paper and soap for handwashing. Hand dryers or paper towels are commonly provided for drying hands, and clear signage helps visitors locate restrooms easily. Accessibility is a priority, with many facilities catering to individuals with disabilities through barrier-free designs. Reflecting cultural norms that prioritize cleanliness and hygiene, public restrooms in Japan maintain high standards, ensuring a comfortable and pleasant experience for users.

How to find public bathrooms in Tokyo?

Finding public bathrooms in Tokyo is essential for a comfortable exploration of the city. Major train stations like Shinjuku and Shibuya, department stores, shopping centers, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Lawson, public parks like Ueno Park, and restaurants and cafes often provide restroom facilities. Look for signs indicating "Toilet" or "Restroom" (トイレ) in public areas or consider using restroom-finding apps like "Toilet Finder" or Google Maps for assistance. By being aware of these options and planning ahead, you can locate public restrooms conveniently while navigating Tokyo.

What is Japanese bathroom etiquette?

Japanese bathroom etiquette emphasizes cleanliness and consideration for others. This includes removing shoes before entering bathroom areas, using separate toilet slippers if provided, leaving toilets clean by utilizing bidet functions for personal hygiene and cleaning options, being mindful of noise levels in public restrooms, respecting queue etiquette during busy times, disposing of waste properly in designated bins outside stalls, and always washing hands after using the toilet. By following these practices, individuals demonstrate respect for hygiene, privacy, and the well-being of others while using bathrooms in Japan, whether in private or public settings.

How to use the toilets in Japan?

Using toilets in Japan involves standard practices like sitting on the toilet seat and flushing using buttons on the control panel or handle. Look for additional features such as bidet functions for posterior or feminine washes, adjusting water pressure and temperature settings as needed. Dryers are available for post-wash drying, along with deodorizer buttons for freshness. Heated seats can be adjusted for comfort, and some toilets offer manual flushing options. Exit the toilet normally after use. If encountering unfamiliar features, don't hesitate to ask for assistance or refer to any instructional icons provided. Overall, Japanese toilets are designed for convenience, with user-friendly features aimed at enhancing comfort and hygiene.

How do you ask for a restroom in Japan?

In Japan, to ask for the restroom, you can use polite phrases like "トイレはどこですか?" (Toire wa doko desu ka?) or the more casual "トイレはどこ?" (Toire wa doko?) to inquire about the toilet's location. If you prefer to ask for the bathroom, phrases such as "お手洗いはどこですか?" (Otearai wa doko desu ka?) formally or "お手洗いはどこ?" (Otearai wa doko?) informally can be used. These expressions are commonly understood by Japanese speakers and are appropriate for requesting restroom directions in various settings such as restaurants, train stations, or public places.

Are Japanese toilets hygienic?

Japanese toilets are known for their advanced features and cleanliness, which make them generally regarded as hygienic. Some common features of Japanese toilets include bidet functions for washing, heated seats, air dryers, and self-cleaning mechanisms. The cleanliness of Japanese toilets is typically maintained at a high standard due to regular cleaning schedules and the use of modern toilet technologies. Public restrooms in Japan, including those in train stations, restaurants, and shopping centers, are often well-maintained and equipped with the necessary amenities for hygiene. Overall, Japanese toilets are considered to be clean, efficient, and hygienic, providing users with a comfortable and pleasant restroom experience.

Please Remember

1. Don't throw your used toilet paper into the trash bins, these are only for used sanitary products or diapers.
2. Make sure you flush the toilet after using it.
3. Don't squat on Western style toilets, and make sure to face the right direction when using Japanese style toilets.

Each country has its own customs, and toilet etiquette is also different from country to country, so please respect the facilities and leave them as clean and tidy as possible.


Written by

旅と読書とフットボールを愛する大学生。 来年からはカップヌードルを通して日本文化を世界に発信していきます。

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