One of the interesting things we don’t often think of when we travel are the toilet facilities in different countries. As you travel the world, you will discover that there is a surprising number of different designs for this seemingly common requirement we all have. Japan is no stranger to unusual toilet designs, and it helps to have a little advance information.
Most modern hotels in Japan have a toilet that we are familiar with from our own homes. Sometimes though, you might open the door to that room in your hotel, and be confronted with something that looks like it belongs on a spaceship, or you might have a simple squat toilet.
The squat toilet is the more traditional style of toilet, and you are unlikely to find it in your western oriented hotel. But, if you’ve booked into a traditional onsen up in the mountains, you might discover one lurking in your hotel room. You will also likely find this type of toilet in the train stations, parks, temples and older public buildings. If you’ve never encountered a squat toilet before, you might be somewhat intimidated. Don’t get to bothered by it though; they are actually easy to use, just make sure you face the front which is where you find the highest part of the toilet. Most cubicles provide a convenient hook for you to hang any clothing you feel you need to remove.
You are more likely to encounter a toilet that looks a bit more familiar… to a point. Some toilets have a bewildering array of buttons and even LCD displays. The various buttons provide things like warmed seats, massage, water jets, and even a blow dryer. Most of the time you can guess what the purpose is by the icons and pictograms on the buttons. When in doubt, don’t press any buttons. I would recommend though that you try it out though; it’s an interesting experience.
In Japanese culture, you may be expected to wear special slippers to use the toilet. You often see this in traditionally oriented restaurants and private homes. You will see the slippers right by the door of the toilet – if you do see the slippers, make sure you use them. Your hosts will appreciate it.