Japan is an amazing country to visit because of its fascinating culture, delicious food, and kind locals. One of the unexpected perks during my trip was discovering that Japanese toilets are the best in the world! Much of Japan is known by foreigners for being a perfect mashup of historic influences and futuristic aspirations. Nothing will make you feel like you’ve walked through a time portal quite like stepping into a Japanese bathroom.

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My Experiences with a Japanese Toilet

Airbnb Experience

The Foreigner's Guide to a Japanese toilet

My first experience with a Japanese toilet was at my budget Airbnb on the outskirts of Tokyo. The entire space was small and meticulously clean, as expected. The bathroom was also very compact, and the toilet had a seat with various buttons. There was even a mini sink on the back of the toilet, but I had no idea how to operate it.

Sitting down to use the toilet was a little intimidating, and I eyed the buttons warily, scared to push the wrong one. As someone who doesn’t enjoy bidets, I decided not to risk anything and got up to flush. My first surprise was that the sink turned on immediately, allowing me to wash my hands in the clean water that was refilling the bowl. What amazing, water-saving technology, I thought, not realising that this would be one of the most primitive toilets I’d encounter on my trip.

McDonald’s Experience

The Foreigner's Guide to a Japanese toilet panel

Next, during a long sightseeing day in the centre of Tokyo, I panicked. I needed to use the toilet, and the closest place was a McDonald’s. After travelling through South-East Asia for over a year, I knew that a McDonald’s toilet was a dangerous place to go. Even in European countries, it is usually as bad, if not worse, than a free public bathroom. Not in Japan.

To my immediate horror, I realised that there were only two bathroom stalls, and they were unisex. I stood in line, worrying about what the men and women coming out of the stalls were leaving behind for me to find. When it was finally my turn, I took a deep breath and entered. At first glance, everything was spotless. I sat down and realised that the toilet seat was warm.

My initial reaction was “eww, the person before me heated up the seat.” Turns out, the seat was heated! This time, I was braver, so I looked at the 20+ buttons on the side panel. Most were various forms of bidet functions that could clean you in ways most of us couldn’t even imagine. I got brave enough to press the music note button, and a nice waterfall sound filled the room. Perfect for people with shy bladders or anyone who wants their bathroom activities to remain private.

When I rejoined my group outside, they had concerned looks on their faces. “Was it horrible?” they asked me. I snorted with laughter and told them to go pee in the best bathroom I’ve ever been to. Everyone took their turn, and we swooned over the awesome toilets, not knowing that things were only going to get better!

Arcade Experience

Japanese toilet displaying Japanese sounds

A few hours and beers later, nature called again, disrupting our arcade fun. We walked by noisy flashing machines into an equally exciting bathroom. The men’s room, I was told, was especially fascinating. It was all in Japanese, so we could only guess what was happening, but it looked like the urinal was analysing the pee.

These Japanese toilets had a screen with a sexy nurse character who was very excited about urination. She told the user how much they peed, as well as some other information that remained a mystery to us. There are some things that one doesn’t necessarily want to know. But the fact that such technology exists is mind-blowing. Clearly, the rest of the world is far behind Japan when it comes to toilets, among many other things.

Overall Experience

Japanese toilet displaying Japanese words at toilet

After spending a week in Japan, we got really spoiled by these smart toilets. Heated seats, relaxing sounds, a myriad of bidet functions, water-saving sinks, and the occasional cheerleading nurse with mystery info about your urine. What more could you ask for? It turns out that some Japanese toilets have up to 38 buttons, each with its unique function! Quite a few were bilingual, but most were just in Japanese with braille. Miraculously, every single toilet we saw was also perfectly clean.

Japan was one of the coolest places I have ever visited. One week was definitely not enough time to enjoy everything the country had to offer. It wasn’t even enough time to fully enjoy Tokyo. It is a truly amazing city with some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. The locals were always polite and courteous, even while squeezed by metro staff into sardine-packed subway cars. Last but not least, Japanese toilets are some of the cleanest, most modern toilets that exist on planet Earth. I am counting down the days to revisit this awesome place!

Reflections on Japan’s Unique Toilets

Experiencing the wonders of Japanese toilets has been a surprising highlight of my trip. From the budget Airbnb to the bustling centre of Tokyo and the vibrant arcades, each encounter with these high-tech bathrooms left a lasting impression. The blend of cleanliness, advanced features, and thoughtful design epitomises Japan’s dedication to innovation and hospitality. The heated seats, multiple bidet functions, water-saving sinks, and even the occasional quirky elements like the cheerleading nurse, all contribute to an experience that is both functional and delightful.

Japan’s toilets are a testament to the country’s ability to seamlessly integrate technology into everyday life. They reflect a culture that values cleanliness, efficiency, and respect for the environment. These experiences have set a new standard for what I now consider the ideal bathroom setup. It’s not just about the advanced technology but also about the attention to detail and the user experience that makes Japanese toilets so exceptional.

As I look back on my week in Japan, I realise that these toilets are just one of the many examples of how Japan continues to lead in innovation while honouring its rich traditions. The country’s ability to surprise and delight at every turn makes it a truly unforgettable destination. I eagerly anticipate my next visit, knowing there is still so much more to explore and experience in this fascinating land. Whether it’s the food, the culture, or the incredible toilets, Japan never ceases to amaze and inspire.