What foreigners love and hate about Japanese public toilets

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How cleaner are Japanese public toilets? graph of japanese statisticsJapanese public toilets are something that almost every visitor to Japan will experience, so this survey from the toilet manufacturer Toto looked at foreigners and toilets to see what issues there were.

Demographics

During September and October of 2014 600 foreign residents of Japan aged 20 or older completed an internet-based survey; ten countries were represented; South Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, USA, France, UK, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. No further demographics were presented.

I’ve used a Japanese-style toilet for number twos exactly once, at a bowling alley when I had the runs, and in the process managed to get a rather large poo stain on my trousers, a fact I never realised until I got home that night. I’m very particular about toilets, so barring emergencies I use department store Western-style toilets almost exclusively, and I tend to select heated seats, but I never touch any of the bum-squirting stuff.

Research results

Q1: When you first came to Japan and used public toilets, which did you usually choose, Western style or Japanese style? (Sample size=600)

Western toilets (to SQ1)69.5%
Usually Western (to SQ1)13.8%
Usually Japanese8.7%
Japanese toilets5.5%
Was never in the position to choose2.5%

Q1SQ1: Why did you choose Western toilets? (Sample size=501, multiple answer)

I come from a Western toilet country60.5%
It didn’t put a strain on my back, legs49.5%
Had a warm water heated toilet seat (to SQ2)32.1%
Japanese toilet floor was dirty and unsanitary22.6%
Japanese toilet floor was difficult to use, couldn’t une16.6%
Felt reluctant to straddle a Japanese toilet12.8%
Couldn’t assume, maintain the crouch position over a Japanese toilet10.4%
Didn’t know how to use a Japanese toilet8.8%
Other1.4%
No answer0.2%

Q1SQ2: Why do you choose warm water heated toilet seat toilets? (Sample size=288, multiple answer)

Can clean my bottom63.2%
It gets me cleaner than with toilet paper51.0%
My home country’s custom is to wash one’s bottom39.6%
When constipated it stimulates bowel movements11.5%
I have hemorrhoids3.5%
Other2.1%
No answer0.3%

Q2: When you first came to Japan and used public toilets, what problems did you have? (Sample size=600, multiple answer)

Didn’t know how to use Japanese toilets26.7%
Didn’t know what all the buttons did25.7%
Didn’t know how to operate the toilet18.5%
Toilet cubicles were too small17.3%
The instructions, etc, were only in Japanese (to SQ)15.7%
Didn’t know how to wash after doing the business14.7%
The queues were too long so I couldn’t use them13.5%
The toilet was too dirty to use12.7%
There was no toilet paper10.0%
Didn’t know you could flush the toilet paper9.0%
Accidentally pressed the alarm button8.8%
Didn’t know where to throw the toilet paper away4.5%
Had a problem with unisex toilets4.5%
The toilet was broken so I couldn’t use it3.2%
Didn’t know how to use a Western toilet2.3%
Didn’t know how to lock the door1.5%
Didn’t know which was the men’s and which was the women’s toilet1.5%
Other3.8%
Didn’t have any problems18.7%

Q2SQ: Why did you have a problem with the instructions, etc, being only in Japanese? (Sample size=95, multiple answer)

Didn’t know what all the buttons did62.1%
Didn’t know how to operate the toilet32.6%
Didn’t know how to wash after doing the business31.6%
Didn’t know how to use Japanese toilets25.3%
Didn’t know you could flush the toilet paper22.1%
Accidentally pressed the alarm button22.1%
Didn’t know where to throw the toilet paper away7.4%
Didn’t know which was the men’s and which was the women’s toilet6.3%
Didn’t know how to use a Western toilet0.0%
Other1.1%

Q3: How clean do you think Japanese public toilets are compared to your home country’s? (Sample size=600)

Much cleaner60.3%
Cleaner33.3%
About the same4.3%
Dirtier1.7%
Much dirtier0.3%

Q4: When you first came to Japan, where did you experience a problem using public toilets? (Sample size=600, multiple answer)

Station30.8%
Public park28.5%
Temple, shrine14.2%
Parking area10.7%
Convenience store9.8%
Restaurant, cafe8.5%
Ryokan inn7.3%
Airport6.7%
Supermarket6.0%
Department store5.3%
Motorway service station4.7%
Hotel4.5%
Family restaurant4.3%
Fast food restaurant4.2%
Hospital3.8%
Petrol station3.0%
Theatre, cinema3.0%
Hairdresser2.8%
Other5.5%
Nowhere33.8%
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