Japan Tokyo Travel

Japanese Toilets: When You’ve Got to Go

The hotel room wasn’t ready but the urge was too strong. I entered the Ladies Room in the hotel lobby, found an empty cubicle and shut the door behind me. I took one look at the toilet seat and stifled a giggle: it came attached with a remote control!

Naturally, I took a photograph.

Japanese Toilets

I heard several doors open and close, and a symphony of running water played loudly outside my cubicle. Then I remembered reading about such devices designed to mask the sound of passing water as a way to combat water wastage since Japanese women had taken to flushing toilets before use. Pure Japanese ingenuity.

Japanese Toilets

I pressed every button adding to the concert. Then I remembered why I was there.

Once I was in the privacy of the hotel room, I checked the bathroom for such a device, called the Washlet, and I was taken on an experience of a lifetime. The second I made contact with the toilet seat, I had an attack of the giggles. The seat was heated and the automatic sound of the running water had me jumping ten feet high.

I pressed the deodoriser button. I replayed the sound and touched the Braille markings on each setting.

Japanese Toilets

I was most intrigued with the Shower and Bidet buttons and eventually discovered that the Bidet is solely for women’s use (does not work on male anatomy). The water temperature can be regulated, the spray strength can be adjusted, some units provide a pulsating jet and a warm air dryer. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about washing and drying my hair.

Further usage highlighted a surprising fact. The automatic sound of running water was perfectly timed. The thought of men in white lab coats and stop watches immediately rushed to mind. I would hate to be a volunteer subject. Maybe they pay well.

Some units have a tap on top of the tank which is used for washing hands, the water draining into the next flush; a concept I would like to see in Sydney to help with our long-term water shortage.

Japanese Toilets Japanese Toilets

From high tech down to basics… My education into Japanese washrooms was almost complete. Until I encountered a squat toilet.

Naturally, I took a photograph.

Japanese Toilets Japanese Toilets

There is one question that remained unanswered. What is the correct etiquette when it comes to using public amenities? Must you turn on the running water sound to mask the natural tinkle? Is it considered rude not to press the button if for hygiene reasons, you does not sit on public toilet seats to trigger the automatic sound?

Something for next time, perhaps.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.