Japan Survival Guide

First things first: If you are trying to find a toilet in Japan, remember to ask for the O-toi, literally "honorable toilet", and not a "bathroom". A bathroom in Japan is just that... a room with a bath in it. The toilet will commonly be in it's own separate room.

Now then, I'm afraid all the rumors are true... Japan has a very different toilet from the classic European sit-and-flush we all love so much in the United States. It's daunting, challenging, perhaps even terrifying; but I'll walk you through the basics. You'll be fine.
Oh, before you freak out too much, there are toilets of a more American style available in Japan, too. These will normally be labeled as "Western Style" for the benefit of those who don't care to learn new tricks, and you'll generally have no problem finding these in all larger cities at hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. But if you wander farther afield, you may not have a choice of where to do your business... most public toilets at rail stations, parks, and people's homes (including a large number of the ryokans, Japanese style hotels) will be equipped with something decidedly different. More sinister still, you may find yourself stuck using a Japanese style toilet while zooming along at 300 MPH on the Shikansen; this is a feat that will separate the beginners from the pros!

I will be adding more to this page, by way of illustrations, over the next week or so. Please be patient.

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All illustrations in these pages are copyright (c)2002 Garth Haslam, and shouldn't be used without his permission. To contact him Click Here!