How to use Japanese Toilets

We all use the toilet, there is no two way about it. Must of us use it everyday for number twos, but we all use it regularly throughout the day for the other and sometimes we use it to be sick!

Unfortunately, Japanese (especially men) seem to have found a new way of using the toilet and that is for spending their free time or lunch time in it! I kid you not! They read manga, newspapers, check their mail while eating lunch. I can guarantee you that on a weekday at around lunch time, every stall on every floor of every shopping mall will have no vacancies. There is the “polite” way of letting them know you have been waiting for 15 minutes and that is by coughing repeatedly, whistling,or my personal favourite, a bang on the door. Suddenly you hear the rustling of
papers and plastic bags being hurried away and you are good to go.

So, you would think using the toilet is a simple thing and for a number one, it is but for the other it is not as simple as you would think! Look at the top photo… what is it? A hole in the floor? Well I learned that it is an old-style Japanese toilet which are still around today! Doors have a sticker saying “western style toilet” on it. If you don’t feel like you’re up to the challenge of the old-style toilet, look for the sticker on the door!

So, if you do feel like you want to experience this weird hole in the floor toilet, let me give you some pointers!

  1. You face forward to the wall
  2. You need the balance of a ninja
  3. Get your pants out the way!
  4. Go for gold

Let me be the first to tell you, unless you have the aim of a sniper, you will leave a mess all over the edges and the floor! 12 years here and still I cannot do it properly!!!


Stating the obvious

Looking at the photo above you will think “well that’s obvious” and while I agree with you, some people do, do these things and to be politically correct the Japanese translate it from Japanese to English, Chinese and Korean (good to not single out,eh?)

Seat cleaning

I think this is great because no one wants to sit on pee stained public toilet seats and let’s face it guys, we don’t lift the seat when we aren’t at home! LOL

These come in different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same purpose, to dispense foam or a liquid onto toilet paper to which you then wipe the toilet seat before using it. Be warned that sometimes they are empty and when you are used to using them, it is such a kick in the groin when you can’t use your lovely sterilized seat. OH, did I forget to say these seats are warm in the colder months?


It may seem another obvious, easy thing to do but unfortunately it isn’t. My mother has pressed the SOS button many times and I can tell you it is embarrassing having two or three security banging on your door asking if you are okay!

The first picture shows an obvious flushing handle, but they seem to hide it behind the toilet, and I have spent some time looking for it before now!

The second picture shows a less obvious flushing system! Simply you put your hand in front of the sensor and hey presto, it flushes, BUT be aware that the toilet flushes by itself sometimes and if you have a bigger body build than Japanese people it could wet your parts! OH, I believe (proof needed) that it flushes by itself because it senses a smell. What other reason can there be?

Computer seats

Yep, that’s right. Now this is really for the bidet and I don’t know about you, but I would never use a public bidet!!! I don’t even use my personal one at home! The second photo is far easier to understand and self-explanatory but wait for the next photo!

Now when I first came to Japan and saw this I panicked and I won’t tell you what I did, but I am sure you can guess. Not my proudest moment but hell. So, I have translated it for you. I am quite sure you won’t use the bidet but at least you know what it all is now!

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Article written by David
Photos by David


Welcome to We strive to bring you top tips and helpful information on this odd country. Having lived here for 12 years I have come to realize I will never truly understand this strange, beautiful country and it’s many odd things. But I do hope to benefit you from my experience. Every week I will write an article on different strange things about life in Japan as well as information on how to get to places easily. I don’t want to bore you with the usual type of tourist information available on the web. I want to give you real information. We would very much appreciate it if you shared this site.