Japanese Toilets: Trial and Error
I know an article on toilets might seem odd but hear me out. When I first got to Japan I was unaware of high tech toilets. I was in a small mall (Ito Yokoda) and had to use the restroom, but was baffled upon entering the stall. I saw loads of buttons and figured why not press one? I pressed one and this small white tube appeared from inside the toilet. I leaned over to inspect this and all of a sudden water started spraying out of it! I was slightly paralyzed by fear and bewilderment until common sense kicked in and pressed the same button to stop the deluge of water. I then made a point not to press any more buttons until I could understand what the hell they meant!
Sadly for me, I used the trial and error method to figure it out so hopefully this article will provide you with tips to avoid the random button pressing method with a Japan toilet.
Japanese Toilets: Understanding the Buttons
First thing to know, the bottom that is the most red button is the stop button. It is useful to stop any results of other buttons pressed. The button above that is the water spray button used to spray water to clean your butt. If you turn your head you can see the dark line is the shape of a butt and the dotted line is the water being sprayed. The button above that one is for the bidet.
The button above that with the green light is the water pressure button. There are four pressure options ranging from squirt gun to pressure washer. Okay, not pressure washer but it might feel like one if you use the top/highest setting.
On the photo above there is no button with a musical note on it, but that button is what I call “toot music.” In other words it makes noise to mask the sounds of you pooping or tooting. I questioned the logic of this button until I learned that people would flush the toilet to cover up the natural sounds because they were embarrassed. As a male westerner this baffles me, because if I make noise I am owning it and have no shame about it. Also not on the above photo is a button that is a deodorizer. The symbol looks like this [パワー脱臭]. I have never used it before but I guess it is for when you stink up the place and do not want the next person to gag.
Lastly, after you finish with your business, you might wonder how to flush the toilet. Some models have a flush handle which can be pressed upward or downward. Why two options you ask? To save water! Yes, if you see a symbol like this [大] and like this [小]. Use the handle in the direction of the [大] symbol if you need a big flush. If you prefer a smaller flush then use the handle in the direction of the [小] symbol. Now some models have the buttons on a panel so you need to look for this symbol [流す].
Japanese Toilets: Can I Flush My Toilet Paper?
At some malls a toilet may have a hand sensor with a picture of a palm (not the tree) on it. Just put your hand near the sensor and it will flush. In case you have traveled around Asia and were wondering if you can flush the toilet paper the answer is yes. Japanese pipes can handle toilet paper and you do not have to worry about clogging up the toilet and making a huge mess.
The Importance of Tissues
Oh, I almost forgot to mention an important tip: Carry some tissues with you at all times. You can often get a small pack for free outside the stations and all over the place.
Anyways, be sure to keep a pack of tissues with you as some train stations might not have toilet paper in the stalls. Even worse, those toilets in Japan parks do not have tissues either and the vast majority of them are squat toilets. I guess the upside is that you will not have to worry about the various buttons on the toilet. The downside is that it is a squat toilet.
So there you have it. You should be able to use the basic functions of a toilet in Japan now. I admit I have not covered every button (just the main ones) so if you do not know what the hell the other buttons do, do not press it until you do, unless you do not mind a little chaos and who does not enjoy a little chaos in their life? Then be a pal and post the results below in the comment section.