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There are two types of toilets in Japan: Japanese style and Western style.

Public washrooms are often equipped with both toilet styles, although some older facilities might have only Japanese style toilets, while some newer facilities might have only Western style toilets. The toilets in almost all modern homes and hotels are Western style.

Many Western style toilets in Japan feature options such as a heated seat, a built-in shower and dryer for your behind and an automatic lid opener. Both Western and Japanese style toilets usually have two flush modes: "small" (小) and "large" (大), differing in the amount of water used.

Although the situation has improved dramatically in recent decades, toilet paper is not always provided in public washrooms, in which case it can be useful to carry a small package of tissues with you. Similarly, because paper towels or dryers are not always provided, it is recommended to carry a handkerchief.

When using the washroom in a private home, minshuku or ryokan, you will often find toilet slippers for exclusive use inside the washroom. Leave your usual slippers outside the washroom, and do not forget to change back into them, afterwards, to avoid an often committed cultural faux pas.

True Japanese toilet fans should consider visiting the Toto Museum in Kitakyushu. The museum is dedicated to the history of toilets and Japan's leading toilet producer TOTO.

Exhibit at the Toto Museum

How to use Japanese style toilets

  1. Face the front of the toilet (see picture below).
  2. Pull down your pants and underpants or lift up your skirt.
  3. Squat down close to the front of the toilet. In case of elevated toilets (see picture below), you need to stand on the raised platform while squatting

Regular (left) and elevated (right) Japanese style toilets
Page last updated: January 25, 2016