How to pee in a toilet in Japan, a guide for the novice

japan toilet

Enter the hallowed pristine halls of Japanese ablutions and you may well regress to your potty training days when everything was new and foreign. Because, well, it is.

Peeing in Japan is unlike peeing anywhere else in the world. It’s all in the Japanese toilets (pun intended). If you’ve fantasized about your genitalia being warmed, watered and blown upon by a plastic shrine to bodily expulsions then, well, welcome, you’ve come to the right place. 

But be warned, your first time will be fraught with doubt. You’ll be overwhelmed by the kanji (Japanese script) you can’t read on a gazillion buttons that operate the toilet and, that when pressed, promise delight or mortification, depending on which side of the Freud retentive or fixation theory you sit. 

The bottom line is (see what we did there) these modern high tech water closets are designed to ensure the Japanese obsession with cleanliness is upheld at all times. They are also designed to ensure you don’t touch anything to transmit germs. 

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how to pee in a toilet in japan, a guide for the novice

So expect automated jets of body temperature water to wash your back and front ends. More luxury commodes even give water pressure and placement options (we’re not all built the same, right?) so you can really hit the right spot. There is usually even a music or audio button with volume controls so no one can hear you pee.

Oh, and heated seats, just like a European car. But not. Because peeing on your car seat would be wrong.

Think of these toilets more like a 2 minute car wash, without the fast moving swirling brushes because that would just be wrong. Think of them as also without toilet paper because the point is to not touch your nether regions and let the toilet do it all for you, including the drying. 

You can thank the multi billion dollar Japanese TOTO toilet company founded over a century ago. You’ll meet TOTO at some stage during your visit to Japan whether in a public toilet, a hotel toilet or a residence.

If you become obsessed you can visit their digital gallery at Narita Terminal 2 for a lesson on how to pee or hit up their showroom in Shinjuku, download the smart phone app and work that toilet like the master you are. 

In the meantime, a few pointers for the uninitiated.

How you will look while peeing

These are the actual faces of people using the TOTO bidet style toilet functions. No nether region was harmed in the making of this video (that we know of) which is titled “thank your parents” because nothing says thank you like a big spritz of fresh water and warm air on your mother’s vajayjay. Ewwwww. 

Flush blush

Many toilets will auto flush, if they don’t then wave your arms around in the air over the toilet vicinity and hopefully there will be a sensor, if that doesn’t work then look for the wall panel and hit  小 (number ones) and 大 (number twos) to flush yourself away.

Pee to the beat

I don’t think you’re living your best life until you can relieve yourself to a sound track. Use the 音 button to mimic the sound of flushing (don’t freak out and think you are flushing when you hear it, you’re not). Others may have music notes you can hit so that you can pee in time to the beat.

Slip slip slap

Japan residences will have slippers in the toilet room. Use them. Put them on, pee, then take them off and leave them there. Do not, under any circumstances, wear these slippers outside of the toilet. You may as well just pee all over the house if you do. That’s how horrendous this faux pas is considered.

Tissue alert

Public toilets will rarely have loo roll. Because, high tech toilets. So take your own pack of tissues for the rare and basic toilets that don’t do the drying for you.

Bow down to the throne

I sometimes like to stand in front of a toilet for a moment first. It will look like a moment of meditation but it’s not, if you wait a beat you will be able to see if the toilet seat opens itself first or not as many are automated to open upon arrival and close upon departure.

The trouble with Japanese toilets is they can be addictive. All that cleanliness and care. Your toilet back home will be sorely lacking by the time you return. Just saying. 

Join our Japan Facebook Group for skiers and boarders heading to Japowland. 

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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