A Comprehensive Guide to Japanese Toilets: Free, Clean, and Convenient


Are Toilets in Japan Free?

One of the first questions travelers often ask is whether Japanese toilets are free to use.

The answer is mostly yes.

Public restrooms in places like parks, tourist attractions, commercial facilities, and train stations are generally free of charge. There are a few exceptions, such as some tourist spots where you might encounter a paid toilet, but these are quite rare. In fact, finding a paid toilet in Japan is so uncommon that you might consider yourself lucky if you do!

It’s a good idea to use the restroom before leaving hotels or inns. If you ever feel the need while shopping or traveling, rest assured that there are toilets available at stations and facilities along the way.

As a cultural note, Japanese people sometimes use the phrase “I’m going to pick some flowers” as a polite way of saying they are going to the restroom. For example: “I’m going to pick some flowers.” “Sure, I’ll wait here. Have a good time!”

Are Japanese Toilets the Cleanest in the World?

In short, yes. Japanese toilets are renowned for their cleanliness. Restrooms in various facilities are regularly cleaned, ensuring a private and hygienic experience. You’ll find toilet paper readily available, and many toilets come equipped with bidets (commonly known as Washlets) and devices that mask bathroom sounds, such as the “Otohime,” which translates to “Sound Princess.”


Otohime is a sound-masking device primarily installed in women’s restrooms. It emits the sound of flowing water or other soothing sounds to conceal any noises made while using the toilet.

Additionally, accessible restrooms marked with a wheelchair symbol, known as “multipurpose toilets,” often include features like ostomate facilities and diaper-changing stations. Pay attention to the signs to make use of these amenities if needed.


Ranking of Cleanliness

Based on personal experience, here’s a ranking of toilet cleanliness in Japan:

  1. Commercial Facilities (Shopping Malls, Department Stores)
  2. Public Facilities (Parks, Libraries)
  3. Train Stations
  4. Tourist Attractions (Outdoor Areas)

Major train stations typically have very clean restrooms, but the ones in commercial facilities are exceptional. After using a clean toilet, you can enjoy shopping or dining with peace of mind.

Japanese toilets are not just clean; they’re high-tech. Some toilets have automatic lights and lids that open and close on their own, offering an experience akin to being escorted in a fine restaurant. However, since these features are sensor-based, the lights might occasionally turn off unexpectedly, which can be startling.

Important Tips When using Japanese toilets, keep the following points in mind:

  • No Smoking: Smoking in restrooms will trigger alarms.
  • Only Flush Toilet Paper: Flushing anything else can cause clogs and overflows.
  • Always Flush: While many toilets flush automatically, always ensure that waste is flushed away. Cleanliness is paramount.
  • Respect the Queue: Japanese people are known for their patience and orderliness, even during disasters. In restrooms, always wait your turn if there’s a line.

Japanese toilets are clean because people make an effort to use them neatly

Japanese toilets offer a safe, clean, and convenient experience for travelers. Use this guide to navigate them with ease and make your trip even more enjoyable.

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