How to: Using Japanese Toilets
Keep in mind that in Japan, there are two kinds of toilets: Traditional Squat toilet as seen above, and a Western-style toilet + bidet.
Everyday, a foreigner in Japan is victimized by squat toilet only bathroom… Only you can prevent these tragedies.
Do Not Fear The Squat Toilet
Your first tip, is going to be: Proper Squatting Technique. I know it sounds like it’d be obvious, but it’s difficult for some people to get the hang of. In most cases of STSD as my friends once called it: Squat-Toilet- Stress-Disorder, occur because of improper squatting technique, which then produces a large amount of stress. You must learn to squat the japanese way.
Americans squat on the balls of their feet, with knees either together or apart. This tends to be very unstable as the surface area of the ball of the feet is approximately 4-5 cm wide. If someone was to push you, or you lost your balance, you would be easily toppled over. Being prone to falling in this squat, while trying to use the toilet, is my worst nightmare! Japanese use a flat foot squat! So, if you are currently in the American squat, slowly lean forward and sink your feet flat to the ground. By shifting your center of gravity forward, you are able to maintain this position with relative ease. In addition to this new squat, you now have the entire surface area of your foot to keep balance, as this is very stable, you are not going to be prone to falling.
Another big mistake that often occurs is: not squatting far enough! If you’ve heard jokes about getting thigh workouts while using the Japanese squat toilet, you’re doing it wrong! The Japanese Squat is a ‘resting position’, all the way down, so it should not be difficult. Unless you have a very large derriere, in which case it might touch the floor or completely throw off you gravity even if you lean forward… in that case, try not to use a squat toilet.
Secondly, people aren’t pulling their pants BELOW their knees. If you don’t pull your pants below your knees, your pockets become turned upside down while using the toilet. ( squats and out falls my money, my cellphone, my chapstick, my train card, my harmonica, a tiny violin, wind chimes, receipts, etc) Don’t let this be you. As most toilets in Japan are auto-flushing, many people fall prey to evil toilets flushing away their money as tribute to the toilets dastardly agenda! Do not let them fool you! Thirdly, do not touch anything okay? More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve seen pee all over the floor from people peeing incorrectly while using the squat toilets. In America people press the flush button with their shoes if
but that’s rude and disgusting here! Don’t use your nasty pee shoes to flush, use toilet paper you fool!
Gaijin to Mission Control
Once you have mastered the Japanese squat, you are pretty much set! Unless you’ve also never used an electronic toilet before. In which case you need a quick crash course. An electronic western toilet looks just like any other toilet in the states, except that some have a arm bar on the side with controls, or the control panel is on the wall adjacent, and some even have sinks on top of them. It depends on where you go really, no pun intended. Here is the average toilet control panel found in japan courtesy of my bathroom. You’re welcome. Controls are minimal, but they get the job done, and the job gets done well.
Of these controls, the stop button is always in red or orange, with a square in the center.
○とまる/止 (Tomaru)means Stop.
○おしり/(Oshiri)wash for your behind.
○水勢/(Suisei) water pressure.
○流す/ (nagasu) flush
My first encounter with a Japanese toilet
My first encounters with these toilets weren`t much to speak of, except for the fact that I spent way too long trying to figure out how to flush, as I assumed if there was a panel with that many buttons, one of them must be the flush button. I did this for a good week after I first came to Japan. After desperately pressing them all and being surprised or nearly squirted, I later saw, embarrassed, a normal-looking handle on the back of the toilet itself, just like in the States. Now the flush function of these toilets work four ways: by handle/manual, button, auto-flush, or hand sensor. These are all pretty self-explanatory. The sensor is a black square on the control box usually , that will flush when the sensor is triggered. The auto-flush, activated after the weight of the human body has been removed from the toilet seat. The handle for manual flushing has two options on it. Large flush/大 or small flush/小. It should be obvious that the big flush is for heavy stuff like poop and unfortunately vomit, and the small flush for just pee. Lastly there can always be a button with the hiragana ながす on it which means flush.
Take That Tiny Toilet!
Now that you have master the Japanese squat, you should no longer have any fear of those cursed tiny toilets! Unless you have a ‘big butto’. Just remember those steps and you should be able to get through it without peeing on the floor or falling in. Only you can prevent STSD. See you next
time guys. Remember to stay curious, and if you’re curious, poke it with a stick- poke it hard.
Friendly Neighborhood Gaijin Logging Off!