Outsmarted by a Japanese Toilet

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I was ready for just about anything when I walked into the KFC bathroom in Tokyo. I brought some tissues in case there was no toilet paper, which is common in China. I gave my bag and coat to my husband because I was prepared to wobble over a hole in the ground. But despite everything I knew about Asian bathrooms, I was completely dumbfounded by this Japanese toilet.

The entire bathroom was spotless and there were dozens of buttons next to the toilet. It was an emergency, so I sat down before I could investigate. Immediately, I was surprised by how warm the toilet seat was. I assumed someone had recently spent a long time sitting on it but I quickly realized that it was actually just heated!

The panel of buttons was intimidating. There were pictures of water streaming out of the toilet with a “rear” or “frontal” option as well as five levels of water pressure. Not a fan of bidets, I stayed far away from these. I moved on to the privacy button – pressing it made a continuous flushing sound that drowned out all other noise. Interesting. There were several other buttons that I didn’t understand and avoided pressing in fear of a robotic arm wiping my butt since anything is possible in Tokyo.

Later, at our Airbnb, I discovered that we had our own high-tech toilet! Ours even had a sink on the back of it. This is done for water-conserving purposes. It automatically starts running once you flush, filling up the toilet with water for the next flush. It’s completely clean so you can use it to wash your hands AND flush afterwards. How neat is that?

I decided to do some more research. Without access to dozens of random toilets, I turned to the internet. Did you know that higher-end Japanese toilets can have up to 38 buttons? Most of them control the bidet, which offers various pressures, water pulses, soap options and so much more! Apparently the pulsating function can help you poop. However, if used often, it can also weaken certain muscles and can leave you painfully constipated. Yikes.

Okay, I’m almost done talking about toilets. But did you know that even fancy Japanese restaurants in Shanghai, China have proper high-tech toilets? Some Asian hotels have pretty nice ones too, although I’ll never be brave enough to try the massage or “penetrating” functions.



  1. Hahaha this sounds so me. The first time I traveled to the United States and used one of those ‘blade dryers’ for hand drying I felt very similar. I’m not going to lie, I need one of those at home.

  2. I actually really like these inventions! Always delighted to discover my hotel or AirBNB stay has them. Never been to Shanghai so I’m not sure, but there’s a shopping mall (Orchard Central) in Singapore (I’m from Singapore) with some toilets that have them too!

  3. I was so intimidated by them last year, too! I did love the seat warmers though, especially when it was cold outside! I saw one in Taiwan, which was surprising, that was heated and it was so glorious after being out in the cold rain for a couple hours!

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