Japanese toilet roadmap

Japan is all about convenience and customer service. These principles are even applied in the most lowly aspects of life, like for example using the toilet. Of course everyone knows the high-tech Japanese toilets with all the buttons, but what I saw in a roadside rest stop between Toyota City and Ise Jingu took things to a whole other level. This place had a ‘toilet roadmap’, which gave an overview of all the available toilets. It also included information about the facilities available in each particular stall, like the presence of a baby seat or if the toilet was high-tech or a traditional toilet where you have to squat. Amazing! And so convenient! I miss things like that from Japan.

japanese toilet directions

The information screen was conveniently located at the entrance of the restroom

japanese toilet directions

The board provides detailed information about all the facilities. The occupied stalls turn red.

The other Japanese toilet

When people think of Japanese toilets – as I’m sure many of us often do – they think of the high-technology toilet with all the buttons, that looks more like a space-ship than an actual toilet. Standard functions include two sprays of water (one for boys and one for girls), a blow dryer and preheated toilet seat. Often there will also be a button for ‘a flushing sound’, meant to stifle any unladylike noises you might produce.

Japanese high tech toilet

Japanese high-tech toilet

Japanese toilet control panel

The control panel for a high-tech toilet. It almost has more buttons than the remote for our tv.


Every once in a while you meet a really smart toilet, that detects your presence automatically and greets you with classical music. These kind of toilets know when you’ve finished your business and flush automatically. I’m always grateful for automatic flushers because finding the right button to flush with can be a challenge sometimes.


But there is also another kind of Japanese toilet:

the other japanese toilet

The other Japanese toilet

That’s right. It’s the ‘glorified hole in the floor’ toilet, the kind you have to squat over (face to the left on the above picture). Who would expect this in a high-tech society like Japan? But this is in fact the traditional Japanese toilet. It is especially abundant in smaller towns, the countryside and in traditional Japanese venues. If you plan to spend some time in Japan, you’d better get used to this.

Japanese toilet in Fushimi station

Japanese toilet in Fushimi station, Nagoya