Never thought I would need a notice to go to the toilets, until… Japan!

Article updated on May 23, 2020
Text & photos: Marcella van Alphen

I push on a button: a water splash starts. Wrong button… Another one: now it is a different kind of splash. Still the wrong button! Will I ever make it? I start panicking slightly as I realise that there are two Japanese women on the other side of the restroom door, probably wondering what I am doing in there! This is quite embarrassing… This is my first Japanese toilet experience and it is taking me ages to figure it out: I just can’t find the flush button!

Eventually, I cheer when I push a button and I hear the toilet flushing!… Until I realise that the toilet is not actually flushing, but just making a cover up sound! I must be getting closer: pushing the neighbouring button, the sound just keeps increasing!

This next button is too much: the toilet starts spraying water against the door! After managing to stop it, I have to squat to wipe the door with toilet paper, and this is when I notice a small handle on the other side of the toilet. The flush!

Japanese toilets are quite something! They are unbelievably clean, and super sophisticated with buttons to control the spray, bidet, sound, power deodorizer, water-pressure, temperature, bottom cleaning and most importantly the stop function…

I must have pressed all of them in my desperate attempt to flush, probably making me an expert at Japanese toilet technologies after this impromptu crash course!

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Toilet with an armrest full of flushing instructions in Japanese.

There is a lot more to Japan! Click here!

Or click on the images below for a selection:

Orange tori gates, the golden pavillion temple with reflections in the water and a waterfall in a green gorge in Japan. Japan food series soba noodles displayed with their dippings. Rocky peak of Mount Asahi-dake with blue skies, a person with backpack hiking a ridgeline, snow and colourful tents in the mountain. Emptpy street of the old Japense town Tsumago with traditional Japanese houses in the mountains. A roadtrip through Japan's rempote northern island written on a photo of two bears a fox and a salmon. Smiling lady filling out a JRpass form for the train in Japan on a wooden desk in a station. White airplane wing above the clouds in blue skies, text about what to pack for Japan. Many orange Torii Gates with a stone path leading through and a lantarn hanging from the top, Fushimi Inari-taisha Kyoto, Japan. Food in small Japanese ceramics on a wooden table with a teapot. Red circle with white text over three photos commemorating atomic bom victims in Japan. Old Japanese woman with white apron cooking a large bowl of soup in the early morning, Japan. Golden temple with reflections in the water, a Japanese temple with wooden roof, orange shrines and a Japanese garden with a pond and green moss.

3 thoughts on “Never thought I would need a notice to go to the toilets, until… Japan!

  1. I totally understand what you went through.As a Japanese myself,I rarely use these toilets because the same kind of thing happened to me.Even though I can read the buttons,I wanted to try them once,and ended up getting my entire skirt wet, and I had to go back inside the department store with my wet skirt.It was very embarrassing.Nowadays a lot of Japanese households have these “sofisticated”toilets, but not everyone uses them.I personally have one at my house but I unplugged it .

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