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Why does Japan have toilets on the floor?


Japan is known for its unique cultural practices and traditions, and one of them is having toilets on the floor. This may seem odd to outsiders, but it has a long history and practical reasons behind it. In this article, we will explore why Japan has toilets on the floor and what makes them different from Western-style toilets.

The History of Toilets in Japan

Toilets have been around in Japan for centuries, but they were not always the modern flush toilets we know today. In ancient times, people used pit latrines or outhouses, which were communal and often unhygienic. It wasn’t until the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century that modern sanitation systems were introduced, including flush toilets.

Japanese Snack Box

The Development of the Squat Toilet

Despite the introduction of flush toilets, many Japanese people still preferred to use squat toilets, which were more common in Asia. Squat toilets are essentially holes in the ground with footrests on either side, where you squat down to do your business. They are still widely used in public restrooms and traditional Japanese homes.

Cultural Reasons for Using Squat Toilets

One reason why squat toilets are still popular in Japan is because of cultural beliefs about hygiene and cleanliness. The Japanese consider squatting to be a more natural and healthy position for eliminating waste, as it allows for a better alignment of the colon and reduces strain on the body.

The Benefits of Using Squat Toilets

In addition to cultural beliefs, there are several practical benefits to using squat toilets. They are easier to clean and maintain than Western-style toilets, as there are no crevices or hard-to-reach areas where bacteria can accumulate. They also require less water to flush, making them more environmentally friendly.

The Differences Between Western-Style Toilets and Squat Toilets

While Western-style toilets are becoming more common in Japan, there are still some key differences between them and squat toilets. For example, squat toilets require users to face away from the flush mechanism, which is often located on the wall behind them. They also require users to remove their shoes before entering the restroom.

The Challenges of Using Squat Toilets

For people who are not used to squatting, using a squat toilet can be challenging and uncomfortable. It requires a certain level of leg strength and balance, which can be difficult for elderly or disabled individuals. Some people also find it difficult to aim correctly when using a squat toilet.

The Future of Toilets in Japan

As Japan continues to modernize, there is a growing trend towards Western-style toilets in public places and newer homes. However, it is likely that squat toilets will continue to be used in traditional homes and rural areas where modern sanitation systems may not be available or affordable.

Toilet Technology in Japan

Japan is known for its high-tech gadgets and appliances, and toilets are no exception. Many public restrooms and modern homes now feature high-tech toilets with heated seats, bidet functions, and even music or sound effects to mask embarrassing noises.

The Cultural Significance of Toilets in Japan

Toilets may seem like a mundane topic, but they hold cultural significance in Japan. The Japanese place a great deal of importance on cleanliness and hygiene, which is reflected in their attitudes towards public restrooms and personal grooming habits.

The Importance of Proper Toilet Etiquette

In Japan, there are strict rules about toilet etiquette that visitors should be aware of. For example, it is considered impolite to talk loudly or make noise while using a restroom. It is also customary to wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the restroom.


In conclusion, Japan’s use of toilets on the floor has a long history and cultural significance that should be respected by visitors. While they may seem strange or uncomfortable at first, they offer practical benefits and reflect a unique aspect of Japanese culture.

Are toilets in Japan on the floor?

In many popular tourist destinations, public restrooms often feature Japanese-style toilets that are installed into the ground.

Does Japan still use squat toilets?

In Japan, there are two main types of toilets. The first and more traditional type is the squat toilet, which is still commonly found in public restrooms. The second type is the modern Western-style flush toilet and urinal, which became popular after World War II.

Are squat toilets better for you?

Studies have found that individuals who squat while using the restroom experience less strain and take less time to finish (Sikirov, 2003). Additionally, research has suggested that adopting a squat position can decrease abdominal pressure, making bowel movements easier and requiring less effort (Tashiro et al, 2020). These findings were published on July 15, 2021.

Why do some countries have toilets in the floor?

Squat toilets are prevalent in many regions worldwide, especially in parts of Asia and Africa, as well as some Muslim countries. In these areas, it is customary to clean oneself with water after using the bathroom, which is more convenient with squatting toilets than with traditional sitting toilets.

Are there squat toilets in the US?

At West Thumb Geyser Basin in Yellowstone, there are squat toilets available. These toilets consist of a short, metal rectangle embedded in the floor with a hole in the center that is approximately 12 inches in diameter.

Do Japanese toilets have toilet paper?

Even though toilets with bidets and washlet functions are common in Japan, toilet paper is still widely used and is disposed of directly in the toilet after use.

The Impact of Tourism on Toilets in Japan

With the increase in tourism to Japan, there has been a growing demand for Western-style toilets in public places. Many tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants now offer both squat toilets and Western-style toilets to accommodate visitors from different cultures.

However, some travelers may still encounter squat toilets in more rural or traditional areas. It is important to remain respectful of local customs and follow proper toilet etiquette when using these facilities.

Toilet Innovation in Japan

Japan is also at the forefront of toilet innovation, with companies constantly developing new features and technologies to improve the user experience. Some toilets now have sensors that can detect when someone enters the room and automatically raise the lid or turn on a light.

Other high-tech features include self-cleaning mechanisms, deodorizers, and even air purifiers. Some toilets even have built-in health monitors that can analyze urine and stool samples for signs of illness.

The Future of Toilets Worldwide

Japan’s innovative approach to toilet technology could have far-reaching implications for the future of sanitation worldwide. As water scarcity becomes an increasingly urgent issue, toilets that require less water to flush could become more widespread.

Furthermore, high-tech toilets that analyze bodily waste could play a role in early disease detection and prevention. While these features may seem futuristic or even frivolous, they could have a significant impact on public health and environmental sustainability in the years to come.

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