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Toilets

  • The word for toilet in Japanese is toire (トイレ, pronounced 'to-ee-rey') but many prefer to use the more politely evasive o-te-arai (お手洗い; wash room) or keshōshitsu (化粧室; powder room).
  • Japan has few actual public toilets; most people prefer the privately maintained ones provided by train stations, tourist attractions, department stores, convenience stores and malls, which tend to be nicer.
  • Toilets are typically marked with generic gendered pictograms; but just in case, note the characters for female (女) and male (男).
  • Newer or recently redeveloped buildings may have 'multi-functional' (多機能; takinō) restrooms; these large, separate rooms are wheelchair accessible, may have nappy-changing or ostomate facilities, and are gender-neutral.
  • Increasingly, Japan's toilets are western-style (yōshiki; 洋式), often with fancy bidet features (these are called 'washlets'); however, you may still encounter a traditional squat toilet (washiki; 和式), especially in rural areas. When using a squat toilet, the correct position is facing the hood.
  • Toilet paper is usually present, but it's still a good idea to have a packet of tissues on hand.
  • Paper towels and hand dryers may or may not be present; most Japanese carry a handkerchief for use after washing their hands.
  • Separate toilet slippers will be provided in establishments where you take off your shoes at the entrance; they are typically just inside the toilet door. These are for use in the toilet area only, so remember to shuffle out of them when you leave.