Friday, March 11, 2016

Japanese Differences Part 1 - The Toilets

There are so many blogs about westerners living in Japan. Now I know why. Life here is technologically advanced and modern, but not as western as you may think. 

You can always find a western toilet, but there are quite a few squat toilets around in public places. Yes, they have western furniture, but they also have rooms with tatami mats, low tables and cushions to sit on. Of course there are prescription drugs, but one Eamon was given is very popular here, and not very popular in the west. It is used to add good bacteria to his tummy. And there are so many more examples giving ex pats who live here so much material for a Living in Japan blog.

They have such a quiet confidence in themselves.  Why do they need to be like America or any place else in the west? When they do adopt something Western, they make it very Japanese. As a consequence, so much here is quite different. And when it's similar, it's still different because of the Japanese twist. 

Not very many people speak English here. English is hard for them to learn. Yet, there's no sense of arrogance that if you're in Japan you should speak Japanese.  They are friendly and try to help. Restaurants have plastic food in the windows, menus have photos of the food on them, and some even have English menus. The train and subway stations all have enough English so that you can find your way around with ease.

So, despite the amount of information already out there about life in Japan, I'm going to add my two bits in what we have noticed and discovered while here. 

First up, the toilets.

At home we sometimes hear about Japanese toilets with their fancy buttons and features. They have not disappointed.

This toilet control panel is so fancy, it's hard to know how to even flush the toilet.
Meaghan and I eventually figured it out.

Take for example the heated seats. Our place in Osaka has one. It is just so awesome to walk down a chilly hallway and then sit on a gloriously warm seat. 

Then there are the water features: Water sprays to clean your bits.  Some have a bidet and spray option. This water is sometimes heated. Eamon squealed with delight when he tried some of the water features on our toilet. He loves them and finds them so 'refreshing'.

A little bit of English to help you out on this control panel. Eamon had no clue what the difference was between spray and bidet, but because bidet was written in red and spray was written in blue, and blue is a boy colour, bidet must be for girls.

Going to be making some noise while doing your business? Music and sound effects will cover your noises. I've heard both music and running water for the sound. 

A simple panel with just some water features and sound. No warm seat here.

These fabulous toilets are also out and about in some train and subway stations, the airport, restaurants, malls, etc.

But because there are still squat toilets around, the western toilets also come with instructions. You might not think you need instructions. However, I do remember seeing footprints on the toilet seat the first time I encountered a large Asian group while travelling in Europe. And it makes sense. If you've only really used a squat toilet, this western toilet contraption would be unusual -- especially if you thinking about sitting your bare bum down where other bare bums have sat.

By the way, I've not yet been brave enough to try a squat toilet because I can't help but imagine a stream of urine going off target and soaking my pants making for a smelly and uncomfortable rest of my day.

Quite a few of the toilets in public areas like malls and the subway, have kid friendly toilets and stalls.

That's not a lid with a hole in it; it's a seat you flip down that fits a little kid bum.

This device appears in some larger stalls. It holds your kid while you use the toilet. So much nicer than trying to decide where to set him down if you're out without a stroller.

Without a doubt, my favourite feature has been the heated seat. Once we're home we may have to look into the cost of getting one of these gems. It's likely cost prohibitive, but we'll never know if we don't look. Advice on this issue would be welcome. 


  1. I loved the toilets in Japan too. When I got home, I researched Toto toilets too and, if I recall correctly, they run a couple of thousand bucks.

    1. Ouch. Maybe I'll just enjoy them here and make due with the cold seat at home.

  2. you'll both be delighted to learn that Home Depot has seats with nightlights in the $150 range.

  3. for a bidet plus seat it's more in the $500 range. Think of all the TP you'll save though!

  4. It's wonderful! Articles, Amazing!
    This is a nice post you sharing. Thank you for your good experience shared with us.Most important one is your story was dramatic.