Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Ignoramus in Japan: Bathrooms and Toilets

I am not a caveman. I do not poop in a hole nor wipe by butt with a leaf. I know what a bathroom, a shower, a faucet, a bathtub, and a toilet are. But stepping into a bath/bathroom/toilet in Japan makes me feel like a caveman.

Ofuro (Japanese Bath)

When my friends and I booked at Goyomon, a minshuku in Ainokura, we were told that the minshuku didn't have a private bathroom. We said amongst ourselves we'd have to go a day without taking a shower if our only choice for a bath was to go to a sento (public bath house). To our relief, Goyomon did have a private ofuro, a Japanese bath! (I guess the person we were communicating with meant there was no private bathroom in the bedroom.) Whew!

In the ofuro was a low tap with a detachable showerhead, bottles of shampoo and bath gel (all labeled in Japanese syllabic script or kana), a low plastic stool in front of the tap, and a bath tub of hot water. I was the last to use the ofuro and I knew (hoped) my friends were smart enough to soap, shampoo, and rinse before soaking in the tub!

Photo from Trip101


I am guessing owning a property in Japan is expensive that's why most apartments are small. A small apartment therefore will have a small bathroom. In the Airbnb apartment we stayed in in Shinjuku, the bathroom was complete with toilet, sink, bathtub, and shower, all in one small space—with arms outstretched I could touch opposite walls. (Tall westerners wouldn't have any wiggle room in a bathroom this size.) I was amazed how well thought out and efficient the layout was. The faucet/tap could be swivelled from the sink to the tub and the shower was also connected to the same tap.

Photo from City Hotel NUTS


When entering a Japanese house/inn/guesthouse/hostel, one is expected to remove his/her shoes and slip into house slippers. But that's not the end of the footwear change. When entering the toilet one must remove his/her house slippers and change into toilet slippers! That's the first step.

Step two: Say "Open Sesame!" Some toilets have lids that automatically lift open to welcome your butt.

Step three: Sit on your throne. On cold days, you might want to sit on the toilet even if you don't have any business there, because some toilets have heated seats!

Step four: While doing your thing, study the panel. If you can't read Japanese, try to figure out the symbols. There's a shower for the front or for the behind. There's a button for flushing sound if you want to drown out the embarrassing sounds your butt is making.

Step five: Dry your butt. Yes, there's a dryer button: 乾燥 or the button with the wavy lines.

Step six: Flush. Which one is the flush button you ask? Did you just do number two? Then press 大 (big). If it was just number one, then press 小 (small).

Step seven: If you had just dropped a giant stink bomb, then please press the パワー脱臭 power deodorizer button. Please!

Photo from GaijinPot

Step eight: Wash your hands. Some toilets have a toilet tank sink. Pretty ingenious. Water that you had used to wash your hands will be utilized for flushing the toilet.

Photo from Sanko

Some public toilet cubicles will have a very small, maybe 6 inches in diameter, sink.

I was surprised to find that, after all of these innovative toilet related stuff, there are still squat-type toilets around!

Photo from Matcha

PS. If you stumble into an old school toilet without all the bells and whistles and have to resort to good old toilet paper, please remember to flush your used toilet paper. Throwing used toilet paper into the trash bin is a big no-no.

Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
An Ignoramus in Japan: Vending Machines
An Ignoramus in Japan: Bathrooms and Toilets (you're here!)
An Ignoramus in Japan: Manhole Covers
I Spy With My Little Eye: Japan's Fashion Contradictions
I Spy With My Little Eye: On the Go in Japan

From Tokyo to Hiroshima (2015)
10D/9N | Tokyo, Toyama, Kyoto, Hyogo, Osaka, Hiroshima
Tokyo Accommodation: Shinjuku Airbnb
Tokyo: Memorable Tokyo Eats
Tokyo: Odaiba
Tokyo: Doing Touristy Things in Tokyo
Toyama: A Hamlet Called Ainokura
Kyoto Accommodation: K's House Hostel Kyoto
Kyoto, Japanecdote: Wisdom from the Road: On exits #2
Kyoto: By the Thousands (Kyoto Imperial Palace, Sanjusangendo, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove)
Kyoto, Japanecdote: Turning Japanese
Kyoto: Braving the Crowds at these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto (Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji)
Hyogo, Japanecdote: If Only I Could Speak Nihongo
Hyogo: Day Trip to Himeji: Himeji Castle and Shoshazan Engyoji Temple
Hyogo, Japanecdote: Am I an Alien?
Hiroshima: Strolling and Snacking in Miyajima
Hiroshima: Remembering the Past in Hiroshima
Osaka, Japanecdote: How to Lose Friends
Osaka Accommodation: Osaka Airbnb
Osaka, Japanecdote: Where is Bentencho Station?
Osaka: Osaka Adlaw, Osaka Ako sa Osaka
Osaka, Japanecdote: Learn From Your Mistakes

Kansai Diaries (2016)
9D/9N | Nov 2016 | Wakayama, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kansai Region
Osaka: Day 0: Arrival
Osaka Accommodations: Hotel Raizan, Hotel Mikado
Wakayama: Day 1: Going to, Sleeping in, and Eating in Koyasan
Wakayama: Day 1.5: West Side of Koya Town
Wakayama: Koyasan Sidewalk Shorts
Wakayama: Days 1.75~2: Okunoin, Three Times
Nara: Sleep, Eat, and Explore Nara City
Nara: Day 3: Horyuji, Hokkiji, and Some Japanecdotes in Ikaruga Town
Nara: Day 3.5: Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, and Heijo Palace Site in Nara City
Nara: Day 4: Early Morning at Nara Park
Nara: Day 4.25: Naramachi Walking Tour
Nara: Day 4.5: Todaiji, Yoshiki-en, and Kofukuji in Nara Park
Kyoto Accommodations: Guesthouse Wind Villa, Shiori Yado
Kyoto: Day 5: Rainy Day in Uji City
Kyoto: Day 5.5: Tofukuji, Kawai Jinja, Shimogamo Jinja
Kyoto: Day 6: Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, Ninnaji
Kyoto: Day 6.75: Gion Night Walking Tour
Kyoto: Day 7: All Day in Arashiyama
Kyoto: Day 8: Last Day in Kyoto
Osaka: Day 8.75: Dizzying Dotonbori
Osaka: Day 9: Osaka, Over and Out


  1. What!? They prefer na iflush ang toilet peper?! :O

    And I want that button for flushing sound hahahahahaha

    1. Yup, must flush le toilet paper! Ilang toilet paper nipis pero dili dali magisi :D
      Hahaha! I think we all want that flushing sound button! :D

  2. you have no idea how very educational this post was. i've heard a lot about japan's toilet features. i'm glad you included some pics. looking at that toilet machine they have, i'd probably be very confused too. it looks more complicated than an IV pump! lol.

    toilet papers are flushed here in australia too. and yeah, the toilet papers are strong enough to do their job, but soft enough to turn to pulp once in contact with water so flushing it wouldn't really be a problem. more than the toilet paper itself, i think it's because they have a very good sewerage system compared to what we have there in the philippines. i reckon that makes A LOT of difference in terms of sanitation.

    1. Hi Jewey! Hahaha! Pag una abi nako ang button na naay musical note kay para naay music...flushing sound diay! Haha! Murag naa pud buttons for volume, water temperature, water pressure. I just dunno which ones. Mahadlok ko magpataka ug pislit hehehe. Yup, I agree, maayo ilang sewerage system! :)