Japanese Toilets: Western Style vs. Japanese Style

As you may or may not know, there are two types of Japanese toilets. One type, the western style toilet, is very near and dear to my heart because I been using it since I was just a little lad. The other type of toilet, the eastern style, is very different from what I’m used to (to say the least), and I can’t stand using it.

The Japanese Western Style Toilets (洋式)

When referring the the foreign or western style toilet, you can use the Japanese term 洋式トイレ(ようしきといれ or yoshiki toire). Some of the western style toilets here in Japan are the most luxurious way to do your “business” that I have ever seen. Many public restrooms have western style toilets. If the store is a slightly higher-end to upscale, or if you’re lucky, you get the western toilet with the special bonus…THE WASHLET!! The washlet is an electronic powered device that sprays a stream of water directly into your “business place” (i.e.-anus for those who want more direct terms, lol). Some washlets have dials to control the tempertature. So if it’s a hot day, what better way to beat the heat than an as* cooling? On those winter days, warm washlet water can be glorious.

Then there is the dial for spray power. Turning the dial to low power setting can give you a gentle yet refreshing trickle to help you get clean. Turning the dial to highest power levels gets the water pressure to be high enough to reach your small intestine :O (it kinda hurts). I AM JOKING! The highest pressure isn’t nearly that high.

I used to be against that washlet, but they do get you pretty fresh, and the washlets I’ve used have been in immaculately clean bathrooms complete with mint disinfectant sprays for the toilet seats. I know many Americans aren’t fans of bidets and washlet. But if you’re in Japan, and you see one of these, at least give it a try once…even if you hate it. Try out the technology just to say you did. Dare I say you might even like it???

Japanese Style Toilets (和式)

The Japanese style toilet, 和式トイレ (わしきといれ or washiki toire) wash definitely one of the Japanese culture shocks for me. I remember my first time seeing one of these “hole-in-the-floor” toilets. I thought to myself “Heh, heh, they must be doing construction or something because there’s a whole in the floor where the toilet should be.” After seeing man come out of one of the stalls that had one of the holes in the floor. I thought “Wait! That IS the toilet?!?”
“Get outta here!”
“No way!”
“That’s not a toilet, that’s just a space in the floor.”
“What the hell do you expect me to do with that?!”
Eventually I put two and two together and realized that you had to really get down there and squat in order to go to the bathroom. I tried it only once, and I really didn’t like it.

Doing human, super squat made me feel like I was on the latest episode of Animal Planet or something. My brain had a hard time figuring out whether the position was uncomfortably awkward or awkwardly uncomfortable (perhaps it was a bit of both). I’m sure It really shouldn’t be such an issue, because the body is in prime position to easily rid itself of the internal waste it’s carrying.

But the fact remains, I just can’t bring myself to make using the 和式トイレ, Japanese style toilet, a habit. A buddy of mine brought up a really good point, “What if you have diarrhea, God forbid?” (I’m really not trying to be gross or anything). There’s just a bit too much butt to toilet space, and it seems like things could go horrendously wrong.

I’ll try most things once, but for the Japanese-style toilet, I’m afraid one time is all I’ve got in me.

QUESTION TO THE READERS,5: Have you tried using a washlet? Or a floor toilet? What did you think the first time you tried it? (Don’t be bashful, lol ;) )


Donald Ash

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  • Koji Kuzuhara

    I have an answer to the question, “What if you have a bad diarrhea?” Simply flush the toilet when you do the business. You’ve got to be really cautious. The timing is the key! LOL

    Yes, I use washlet and I love it!

  • AHAHA!! I thought the same thing when I saw those. They say they are suppose to be more sanitary… I understand that but it does make you feel like an animal who dug a whole in the ground to go potty.

  • smazh

    Hi, just chanced across your website. I lived in Japan for 7 years, although I’m no longer there.

    The Japanese style toilet is found all over Asia actually. I’m always amused by Westerners who can’t bear to use it. :)

    It’s actually more hygienic since you don’t actually touch anything…

  • Lazzaris

    What if I have a bad case of diarrhoea?
    What if the poo poo san slip on my pants?
    What if my winner reach the water?
    What if I fall inside?
    So many questions. I have fear.
    Only time that I used was in the first night after 11march. I was in a shelter, and that thing was the only way.
    But always, better to wait and wash my bum. Fat people like me always feel comfortable, sure that isn’t smelling fatty bum. Also is a very healthy habit to care your *’s skin.
    So good!

    • Donald Ash

      Lazzaris, I was actually referring to you. When were at the Domino’s Pizza shoot, you mentioned why you didn’t like the Japanese style toilets and I found it REALLY amusing. Thanks for posting! :)

  • Ken

    I just love the heated seat on washlet-ready-toilet. It’s a nice feeling on a cold winter day.
    About washiki toiket? I just feel so unprotected when I’m doing my business on Japanese style toilet.

    • Donald Ash

      I’m with you on that one, Ken. I just don’t feel supported/comfortable on the Japanese-style toilet. Thanks for posting

  • Mike

    Went once to a Japanese-style toilet but hung my pants up and removed my shoes for fear of dropping a chocolate bar in my shorts!!

  • Kurt

    In 9 years of traveling overseas I had trained myself to take care of biz each morning at the hotel, western style. Only had to do the squat thingy once (Korea) and yep, all the above thoughts rapidly go through your head. The funny reverse side is I was exchanging small talk with a lady at the airport once (an expat living in Hong Kong) and she said she was ‘sick of finding feet prints on the toilet seat’… apparently the locals had their own issues using a Western style toilet!

    The other thing that always got me was to be standing at a urinal in Narita airport, preparing for the looooong bus ride into Tokyo, and have the cleaning lady come in and start mopping around you.

    • Petaris

      When I was in Shinshibashi in Osaka I used the public bathrooms in the train station and there was a sign showing how to use the Western style toilets. It had a picture of a person sitting on it with a circle around it and then a picture of a person squatting on the toilet seat with the crossed circle around it. It was quite amusing to see. I kind of wish I had taken a picture of it now. :)

      • Stephen

        Here you go…

  • melvin

    japanese-style toilets had its purpose.. ever experience winter time and sat on a western-style toilet without the heated toilet seat… its like sitting on ice.. with d jap-style, no need for heated toilet seat, just squat and let loose.. by the way the squat position, it’s the best way for passing stools, waste elimination is easier, faster and complete..

    For the first time i used jap-style toilet, i was confused on how i’m gonna sit here, should i face the door or the wall behind?! haha figured it out when i saw the toilet paper..

    For the washlet, it’s the most comfortable toilet ever with bum wash and air dry, wow. Easy to operate icons on the control were very catchy, some had a woman icon.. i haven’t tried to push it, that nozzle might get somewhere down there… ahahahah.

    • Donald Ash

      LOL! Good point. Squat toilets can help you beat the ice toilet seat chill.
      Did you say air dry? I never tried that function on a washlet. WOW!

  • Ms. Hoshino

    Squat toilets are good for people to use and good for pregnant women. The sitting position just isn’t a natural thing. Here is proof. Ha ha:


  • Kanukipper

    So I understand the arguments that the squat toilet is more hygenic and supposedly better for people, but as a modern day girl I hate these toilets. Guys only have to use them for their bowel movements, we have to use them for urination as well. Trying to urinate in pants without getting anything on your pants is one of the most awkward awful experiences.

  • Christine

    I have to tell you that the “squatty potty” is one of the best no.2′s that I’ve ever had. : ) and I was done doing it in like 2 minutes. I hardly had to push, unlike when you’re sitting in a western toilet. Kudos for having at least tried it once. : )

  • reva

    I’ve never used a japanese one, but squat toilets are a pretty common thing in France too. I don’t mind it at all! The only time I did mind it is when it was a freezing cold night and I had to use a very drafty toilet in my long pyama pants. I was afraid my pants would touch the wet part of the toilet..

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