Japan is famous for two types of toilets:
- Squat Toilets
- A hole in the floor, with a shield (that shield is one bit of porcelain more civilized than many French toilets). These toilets are common in ordinary Tokyo bathrooms - places that cater to Japanese more than Westerners. I was in a very large and pretty fancy department store, the Kieo (near Shinjuku station) and I snapped this photo:
(This was intended solely for bowel movement, I believe - there were urinals provided for pissing.)
This may be a mostly old fashioned way of excreting, in the Capsule Hotel Fontaine Akasaka, they had western style sit-down toilets, and this was definitely an all Japanese joint.
I didn't get to check if these toilets are the same in the women's bathrooms.
January 2002: I did finally test one of these squat toilets by choice, staying at Tsurunoyu in Akita, they offered both types. Nice to be able to choose! And to be able to practice for later, when I might not have the choice, or I might be drunk. I immediately learned some things about Japanese clothes and culture from my first squatting:
First of all, bathroom clogs make a lot more sense when you're using squat toilets. It only takes one yahoo with uneven foreskin or a bit of bad aim to make the floor a literal cesspool. So you would be sitting in it as you shat, or ladies while pissing. At least most of the bathroom clogs are wooden soled, giving you a hearty inch above the potential filth.
The other thing that makes a whole lot of sense with a squat toilet is a sort of skirt. If men wore ukata, open robes, that would make squatting to shit easier than it is with pants. With pants and these squat toilets, you're at risk of pissing on your bunched up legs, or depositing change on the floor. With squat toilets and open robes, you would only have to bed down, definitively collect up the front of your clothes, and let your lower quarters release. I don't yet know enough about traditional Japanese male garb to say if this sort of approach was the case.
- Electric Toilets
- It's not uncommon to see an electric toilet in Japan - my first experience with one was in a hotel that cost only $40 a night (Kimi Ryokan). The seat is heated, a nice comfort in cold mornings, and there are nozzles that will spray water to clean your female parts or your anus. I tried both settings, I ended up with a very wet bum. The water was nice and warm and you could adjust the spray - make it hard or soft. It was a lot like a bidet actually, which can be a little weird in the hindquarters. I had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to stop the spray - I thought it would be on a timer but I was being sprayed an awfully long time, and I knew that if I just stood up, my pants would be covered. Once I got it shut off, I went hunting for any kind of dryer switch, which I couldn't find, so I was forced to mop off my ass with toilet paper.
The Kimi Ryokan toilet (with the control switches):
The Tokyo Green Hotel Toilet: (with some english instructions)
- Urinal of Good Taste
- In one hotel that was too booked to provide me a room, I snapped these photos of a urinal I really admired. Two reasons I liked this urinal - one, you feel like you're pissing in an architectural monument. This urinal really has some long and deep stature. Second reason I like it, the name of the urinal, printed on the top - "Delicia." Mmmmm.