Who cares about a toilet, right? Wrong. Japanese toilets are actually pretty awesome. However, many Japanese toilets are so high-tech they can be confusing, making the subject of potty talk necessary. (And in fact, very appropriate, as the Japanese washlet toilets, as they are called, have actually become an embedded part of Japanese culture.)
Japanese toilets are often equipped with so many bells and whistles that the user can be left wondering which button to push (or more importantly, which button not to push). While the control panel can be a bit daunting, (especially on older model toilets with button descriptions written entirely in Japanese), the pictures usually help the user make the right selection.
Some of the features seen on Japanese toilets include: Heated seats, motion-activated lids that automatically raise and lower (eliminating the need to touch anything unsanitary), flushing noises to cover those pesky and embarrassing noises, air freshener sprayers, and bidets with adjustable sprayers and water pressure. With that many options, once you get the hang of these Japanese-style toilets, it can sometimes be hard to give up your newly acquired, high-tech throne.
On the other hand, if all of these high-tech options seem overwhelming and you just want a simple place to do your business, don’t worry, Japan also has the ultimate low-tech toilet. Essentially a hole in the ground with a flushing mechanism, Japan’s low-tech toilets are about as simple as it gets.
While the low-tech Japanese toilet looks different than the western-style toilets you are probably accustomed to, it works pretty much the same (just with fewer frills, like, a seat). All you do is hover over it and flush, and there is only one rule: Face the raised part of the toilet (otherwise, certain things might not land in the right spot. Yuck!) As a bonus, there is often a small fold-down tray attached to the wall that you can use for balance (and that is actually what the tray is for).
While I imagine most of us aren’t really into toilet tourism (I hope), Japanese toilets are pretty cool. In fact, there are quite a few famous porcelain thrones in Japan. At the Warehouse Arcade in Saitama for example, there is a toilet that lights up and plays Hallelujah while you use it. And if that isn’t enough for you, you can visit the TOTO toilet museum (yes, really) in Kitakyushu. I’m sure the toilet deity, Kawaya-no-Kami, would be pleased.