Everybody has to do it at least once a day. This special time where you are alone and can completely relax for a few minutes-the toilet! Toilets in Japan are much more than just a tool to fulfill the necessity of your private business. Japan has developed a whole culture and genuine service around this very intimate space.
Toilet should function as a convenient tool for all kind of extras services to it. Some toilets have automatically heated seats, close and open automatically when approached, water squirts and an even more confusing remote control with several other functions. Unlike some of our students who might have some struggles with their first Japanese toilet encounter, we will try to point out most of the obstacles out there.
The most common feature for Japanese toilets is the rear wash, which acts like a carwash for your undercarriage. Mostly there are controls for both water pressure and nozzle position, creating a kind of first shooter experience. Unfamiliar, yet very pleasant when getting used to.

From a cleanliness perspective, Japanese toilets definitely get an extra plus. In addition to the self-cleaning nozzle, most toilets are equipped with seats that have a special antibacterial coating. Some even move the seating and wipe it automatically after the next customer is using the toilet. One of the most convenient aspects of Japanese toilets might be the seat warmer. Since there is no central heating system in Japan, it is a welcoming feature especially on cold winter days.
It is quite well known that most Japanese people are very shy, especially women. Thus most people don’t want to be heard when making the less popular noises by other nearby people. There is a sound of flashing water that can be played to avoid others hearing your pooping sound or you hearing the people’s sound around you. Before this great idea was installed, many Japanese kept flushing the toilets until they finished their business. This was indeed a waste of water, hence in order to reduce water usage the flushing sound function named “Otohime” (音姫) was created. It can be roughly translated to “princess sound”. It can resemble the sound of a flushing sound of a toilet, or produces a beautiful ambient sound, just like in a fairytale dream. This function is either accessible from the same panel with other functions, or from a separated sensor panel on the wall. The sound often goes off after 25 seconds and you can extend it by additionally pushing the button. There are no limits to creativity, so self-made Otohime sounds also exist.


There are at least four ways to flush the toilet here. The first and most common and easy one is using the lever, which is located either upward or downward part on the back of a toilet. Some toilets are installed with an automatic flushing system indicated by the Kanji “Jidou” (自動). Next is the sensor flushing system. Simply place your hand near the panel and that’s all!

Useful Vocabulary:
Toire (トイレ) = Toilet
Otohime (音姫) = Sound of flashing the toilet
Toire ha doko desuka? (トイレはどこですか?) = Where is the toilet
おしっこしたいです。 (Oshikko wo shitai desu.) = I need to pee.
Toirepe-pa- (トイレペーパー) = Toilet paper
Nagasu (流す) = Flush
Dai (大) = Big Flush
Shou (小) = Small Flush
Bide (ビデ) = Bidet
Oshiri (おしり) = “Bump” yet in the toilet context it means rear wash