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health

Survey says kids struggle with Japanese toilets, contributing to constipation

24 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japan’s feature-rich toilets, with such luxurious comforts as heated seats and gentle sprays of butt-washing water, are a source of technological prestige for the nation. However, the Japanese phrase washiki toire, which translates to “Japanese-style toilet,” doesn’t describe those high-tech marvels, but rather a much simpler fixture that’s basically just a trough that you can flush set directly into the floor, as pictured above.

Japanese-style toilets used to be the norm in Japan, but they’re becoming less prevalent in modern society. There is, however, someplace where they’re still very common: Japanese schools. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, only 57 percent of elementary and middle schools in Japan had Western-style toilets as of 2020 (evidently when the most recent data on the subject was collected). That means that at roughly four out of 10 schools kids need to use squat toilets, something that the Japan Toilet Labo research organization says is contributing to increasing rates of constipation among Japanese children.

In its annual defecation survey, which collected data from the parents of 1,000 elementary school-age kids, Japan Toilet Labo found that 20.1 percent of the children had constipation or pre-constipation symptoms, a higher number than in last year’s study. The organization asserts that sustained suppression of urges to go to the bathroom can cause constipation, and the survey showed that 81.8 percent of constipated children often or sometimes hold it if they’re at school, as opposed to just 38.4 percent of children without any constipation symptoms.

That would suggest it’d be beneficial to kids’ digestive health to make it easier for them to use their schools’ bathrooms. However, according to Japan Toilet Labo’s data, many children lack the balance and accuracy to drop a deuce cleanly into the trough of a Japanese-style toilet. The survey said that 26.7 percent of elementary school-age kids are unable to use one, with the data showing it’s an especially big problem for boys, perhaps because they can pee into a Japanese-style toilet without squatting or using a urinal, whereas girls’ lack of alternatives leads to more frequent squat toilet usage and greater proficiency through familiarity.

● Can’t use a Japanese-style toilet

Boys: 33.4 percent

Girls: 18.9 percent

● Can use a Japanese-style toilet but don’t like it

Boys: 47.1 percent

Girls: 55.3 percent

● Have no problem using a Japanese-style toilet

Boys: 19.5 percent

Girls: 25.8 percent

Despite those numbers, when the survey asked why kids were reluctant to use their schools’ bathrooms (and allowed multiple responses), only 9.1 percent said it was because of Japanese-style toilets, and Japan Toilet Labo urges schools to take steps to comprehensively increase the quality and atmosphere of their restroom facilities.

● Why don’t you want to use your school’s bathroom?

I don’t want my friends to know I’m defecating: 26.5 percent

I can’t relax: 22.2 percent

I don’t have enough time before I have to go back to class: 22 percent

My friends will laugh at me: 15 percent

The bathroom is dirty: 12.9 percent

The bathroom smells bad: 10.5 percent

It’s difficult to use a Japanese-style toilet: 9.1 percent

Still, roughly one out of 10 kids not wanting, or able, to deal with a squat toilet is an issue worth addressing. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says that around 90 percent of schools plan to add Western-style toilets, and even provides subsidies to help schools finance the changeover.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Squat toilets’ popularity fading as parents call for them to be abolished in Japanese schools

-- Do you really need to wear toilet slippers when using the bathroom at home? Japan’s netizens vote

-- Everything you think you know about your washlet toilet is wrong

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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In its annual defecation survey

Yikes!

Japan Toilet Lab

Really?

many children lack the balance and accuracy to drop a deuce cleanly into the trough of a Japanese-style toilet.

Oh god that is the funniest thing I have read this week. "Drop a deuce cleanly in the trough", it almost sounds like a spectator sport that can be scored.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You must be kidding. If you need to poo, then poo. The type of toilet has nothing to do with natural functions.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

If you need to poo, then poo. The type of toilet has nothing to do with natural functions.

Then why does this article exist? If what you said was true, there would literally be no content for this article. So it seems that maybe you're wrong.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Survey says kids struggle with Japanese toilets

Not just children. I’m very reluctant to use these and avoid them if I can, mainly due to childhood experiences with them. Granted, some of the public squatters I used back in the day were even more basic, lacking a flush and only providing you with a bucket.

The bathroom is dirty: 12.9 percent

The bathroom smells bad: 10.5 percent

I think these are the case regardless of the style of toilet. Many Western-style toilets used in schools aren’t feature-rich hi-tech marvels nor immune to skid marks.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It has been reported that the position used in the Japanese style toilets (with the knees at a higher position) is better for defecation, but even on western styled ones this is easily solved with a small stool (not that kind!) or platform to get the same position.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Dig a hole in the ground and go? So animalistic.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

A source of mild nightmarish horror was the always present thought of, right in the middle of things, I would fall over backward, and my little benjo had a step-up so not only backwards but down as well. And it's weird that the school authorities will install 'Western' style toilets given that, as I understand this, the squat toilets are a cultural artifact of Germany when, in post Meiji, Nihon borrowed much from Europe including German Medicine and the German toilet of the time. It encourages the self examination for vermiform parasites... people get 'worms' also and much more so then than we seem to do today. But, as an aid to 'culturing out' of one's native culture so as to better observe more, and prejudicially immediately interpret less of the culture around one but take it in as 'just behavior' and see how it fits together, significantly altering one of our most basic and habitual behaviors seems to help to open that door. But, for Nihon no Gakusei, apparently they are not as inspiring...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

As long as there is a handle bar in front of you to prevent from falling backwards, they should be ok. You do not have to make contact with somebody else’s bodily fluids.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Squatting is the natural way to do it, and more sanitary in the sense that your skin should never be coming into contact with any foreign surfaces.

I can understand if there are some elderly who struggle with it, but for this many children to be struggling seems to suggest an issue with physical fitness, coordination, or balance.

Most homes probably do not have squat-style toilets, but it seems like children would be learning how to use them elsewhere, unless they are actively avoiding it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I take these anytime over no toilets like in the Washington DC and Norther Virginia, where there are no public or even private toilets for use. I was lucky to use the only one toilet,(one person at a time), near Metro Center station before attending the public event. Teo hours later and it was locked for good.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On a positive note, I've read that one area in which Japanese youth excel over westerners is their vertical leap ability, attributed to the squat toilet (seriously - it's a stat).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese youth superior vertical leap capability is only going to increase with the electric jump rope spinner, featured in an article below.

Western youth need to pick their game up...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting. In the US I have a floor mounted stool called "Squatty Potty" and is used to place your feet on in order to raise the height of the knees thus allowing the colon to be almost straight when compared to sitting on a conventional toilet; now the poop does not have to go around a bend prior to elimination. It is the closest compromise to a squat toilet experience, and does wonders for constipation and troublesome elimination. There is nothing better for your health than a squat toilet, just ask your doctor!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The squat toilet is much better for the bowels as it reduces the internal pressure as people push, which is what causes constipation, which will eventually lead to piles. Also the parents can easily go to a public squat toilet, when they are outside.Parks often have them. Not to mention they can be cleaner as people don't pee and poo on the actual seat itself. A simple sign, with cute characters, can teach them. But I can understand that sitting is much much easier than squatting.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Not to mention they can be cleaner as people don't pee and poo on the actual seat itself.

Unfortunately most of the squat trough ones I've had the misfortune of seeing in parks have been completely missed by the previous pooper/pisser.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I refuse to use those things. And most of the time there's poo all over. Its disgusting.

If people want those horrible squat toilets, they should install them at home. Me personally, I ONLY use washlet toilets. Home and work both have them, and if I really need to sit then I'll find a conbini or pachinko. Their toilets are clean and almost always have washlets.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“annual defecation survey”? How I love Japan….

Waiting for the “annual urination survey”.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We have been unable to use squat toilets for several years due to our age.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Technology is always biggest reason for generation gaps! It is more influential than religion, politics, morals, or music!

If modern Japanese children have Western style toilets at home, then they would feel unnatural using the squat toilets. Especially, if their toilets have heating and a bidet. It is no different than the way most foreigners feel about the squat toilets. You need a lot of flexibility in the hips even more so in the ankles to squat like that. There is always the danger of falling or defecating/urinating on your clothes if done incorrectly.

Where would children ever get the practice if not at home? Camping? Prison? War?

The school restrooms have very little privacy like the toilet at home. Also, Japanese school bathrooms are very cold and uncomfortable. Most schools do not have air conditioning in the restrooms, nor do they have warm running water even in the winter. Maybe the teacher's office will have one of those mini water heaters above the sink.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oops!

"The school restrooms have very little privacy unlike the toilet at home."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don’t want my friends to know I’m defecating: 26.5 percent

My friends will laugh at me: 15 percent

The children at my kindergartens all go together during a toilet break. At that age, they are probably less self-conscious and quite comfortable (and maybe getting some harmless amusement out of) ripping big ones in each other's presence. Perhaps it would be a good thing to reinforce in children as they develop that bodily functions are natural processes that no-one can avoid (without damaging their health) and nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, with appropriate display of manners when in company.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Dig a hole in the ground and go? So animalistic.

It's not a hole, it's a Japanese styile toilet, what a childish comment..

The squat toilet is much better for the bowels as it reduces the internal pressure as people push, which is what causes constipation, which will eventually lead to piles. Also the parents can easily go to a public squat toilet, when they are outside.Parks often have them. Not to mention they can be cleaner as people don't pee and poo on the actual seat itself. A simple sign, with cute characters, can teach them. But I can understand that sitting is much much easier than squatting.

Finally someone with a brain..

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It's not a hole, it's a Japanese styile toilet, what a childish comment..

I would call them "Japanese". I have encountered such toilets all over the world, and the first one I recall was in a bar in Ireland. I had a lot to drink and it was a perilous thing!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Western toilets, with often with a bit in bidet, are more common these days, however western toilets limits the spread of the legs and people often have to use forcefully defecate, that can lead to health problems as early as middle age.

Kids are being dehydrated seems due to any toilet type is ludicrous. Drink more Mugi-cha and less sodas containing caffeine. It's not the toilet type it's the liquids.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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