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Japan’s Toilet Culture

Sitting on a bench at their university campus, two exchange students, Wendy from the United Kingdom and Hyeon from Korea, are talking to Jun, a senior from the same seminar group.

Japan’s Toilet Culture

Jun

Wendy, is it true that your family are currently visiting Japan?

Wendy

Yes, it is. It’s actually their first time in the country and they seem to be enjoying themselves. It seems that every day is a succession of surprises for them, one after the other.

Jun

Could you give me an example of what they are finding so surprising about Japan?

Wendy

Well soon after arriving, Japanese toilets became a hot topic of discussion! Both my mother and my sister found them to be rather strange. To use her words, my mother asked me about “that device that makes the noise when you flush a toilet.”

Jun

So you are talking about that device that emits a sound that covers the sound of somebody “doing their business.”

Hyeon

That is something unique to Japan! When I saw it for the first time, I recalled the cultural tradition of Japanese people being rather “embarrassed” about such things.

Wendy

With my family, they were rather shocked that “people would go so far as to be concerned about such things!”

Jun

It is interesting to hear how differently people react. It is said that Japanese toilet culture is rather unique. So what about as foreign nationals living in Japan? What about the nation’s toilet culture do you find confusing?

Wendy

Among my fellow exchange students, there are quite a few who are rather perplexed when first encountering a Japanese-style toilet. Some seem intent on squatting down in the opposite direction to the correct one, while others are unsure if they should sit down completely or not.

Hyeon

There are also some who seem rather surprised that you are supposed to flush the toilet paper away after you have used it. Such surprise comes from the fact that in many countries the tradition is that toilet paper is disposed of in wastepaper baskets.

Wendy

Another thing to mention is the high-functionality of Japanese toilets with their range of washlet functions! I am really happy that many toilets have warmed seats, and there are others that are equipped with sensors which work to raise the cover of the toilet when you approach. There is also the automatic flushing function that works as soon as you stand up. All of these functions seem to be very kind and considerate. However, I think that some Japanese toilets come with so many function buttons that foreign visitors are often confused.

Hyeon

Yes, I have also heard of cases where people have spent 10 minutes looking for the flush button, or where they have mistaken the flush button for the emergency call button which has resulted in a security guard running to their assistance.

Wendy

Yes, I sometimes think that it is “necessary to have access to a toilet manual!”

Jun

Really? Well, I would like to show you something interesting. There is a website that introduces how to use Japanese toilets correctly. Let me find it on my tablet and show it to you.

All three of the friends end up peering at Jun’s tablet device.

Wendy

I see! The variety of photographs make things easy to understand.

Hyeon

I think it would be good to tell people who plan to visit Japan about this website because it can be rather embarrassing to ask others about how you should use a toilet.

Jun

Yes, against the backcloth of there being many more foreign visitors recently, more and more municipalities and businesses have been making efforts to both provide stickers that show how to use toilets correctly, or who are making arrangements for easily-useable toilets. In preparing for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, as one of the elements of Japan’s culture of offering hospitality without reservation, the effort to convey the message that toilets in Japan are both clean and comfortable to use is gaining pace.

Wendy

Yes, talking about foreign visitors who come to Japan, I believe that many of them remember the clean and comfortable nature of the nation’s toilets.

Hyeon

Talking about such things, when I visited a department store recently I was rather surprised by the rather opulent restroom arrangements. On each of the floors, the design, the fragrances and the background music in each of the restrooms was totally different.

Wendy

That sounds interesting! I would really like to take my family along to investigate that further.

Jun

Really! That almost sounds like the toilets in Japan might become a tourist spot in their own right.
NIPPON UTSUKUSHI TOILET – JAPAN TOILET INFORMATION
http://www.sanitary-net.com/utsukushitoilet/en/