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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.


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.

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.

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