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Kyoto village dealing with poo on floor as Japanese-style toilets confuse foreign travelers

27 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

This summer was the first since Japan fully reopened to international tourism. That resulted in a big spike in visitors from abroad coming to the country to experience Japanese culture, enjoy Japanese food…and be confused by Japanese toilets.

Miyama Kayabuki no Sato is a village in Kyoto Prefecture, to the north of Kyoto City, with a collection of preserved traditional farmhouses and a museum detailing how daily life was for past generations who lived in this bucolic community. Kayabuki no Sato, which is part of Natan City, welcomes visitors from overseas, but in recent months they’ve been having problems with how some of those visitors are using one of the town’s public restrooms, which is located near the parking lot for tour busses. Yoshifumi Nakano, head of the Kayabuki no Sato Preservation Society, thinks that the trouble stems from overseas visitors being unfamiliar with multiple aspects of how Japanese-style toilets are meant to be used, leading to poo on the floor and overflowing trash containers.

Screen-Shot-2023-09-07-at-12.20.01.png

Out of the 12 restroom stalls at this restroom, eight of them have Japanese-style toilets, similar in design to the one shown in the photo above. For some visitors coming from countries that have no squat-style toilets, their natural tendency may be to use the Japanese-style toilet in as close a manner as they can to a Western-style one: they step into the stall, close the door, then do their business while facing the front door, and with their hindquarters facing towards the toilet, with some apparently even lightly resting their buttocks on the tip of the raised half-dome like it’s a toilet seat.

This is, though, the opposite of how you’re supposed to situate yourself. Having your butt hovering near the dome increases the chance that your droppings will drop onto the top of the dome, from where it’ll slide down to the bathroom floor. To help prevent this, the proper way to took a dump in a Japanese-style toilet it to face the toilet itself, scooching up close to the dome and also using it as a guide to make sure you’ve got your anus laterally lined up so that your deposits will land in the bowl and can be flushed away.

Inaccurate deuce-dropping isn’t the only problem Kayabuki no Sato is grappling with these days, though. Nakano says that the trash containers inside the village’s restrooms stalls are sometimes overflowing with feces-streaked paper after international tour buses come through.

Screen-Shot-2023-09-07-at-12.20.10.png

As seen in the example photo above, many Japanese bathrooms have a small lidded trash container located inside the stall and within arm’s reach of the toilet. For visitors from countries where the sewage system doesn’t have the capacity for paper and wet wipes to flow through the pipes, this container might look like where you’re supposed to stick your paper after you wipe your butt, as is the case in many parts of southeast Asia.

However, in Japan that’s not what these containers are there for. The Japanese sewage system has no trouble flowing toilet paper, and these in-stall trash containers are primarily meant as receptacles for used feminine hygiene products. That’s why you typically only see these trash containers in women’s or mixed-use stalls, and also why the containers aren’t very big. With overseas visitors to Kayabuki no Sato putting used wiping paper in there, though, that’s a much larger volume of trash, to the point where Nakano says that the parking lot administrative staff has had to start emptying the containers because they’re filling up and overflowing by the time of the cleaning staff’s next pass through the restrooms.

None of this should be taken to mean that Kayabuki no Sato doesn’t want foreign visitors. Still, poo staining the floor and spilling out of wastebaskets is a problem, especially for a country that prides itself on cleanliness as much as Japan does. The three other public restrooms in the village have already been converted to all-Western-style toilets, and Nakano says the plan is to convert the eight Japanese-style toilets at the parking lot restroom to Western-style units as well. That’s going to take time, though, so in the meantime Nakano is hoping that increased awareness will help improve the situation.

Screen-Shot-2023-09-07-at-12.20.20.png

Kyoto City itself has been dealing with similar issues for some time, and last year the municipal government designed and released an explanatory graphic with text in Japanese, English, Korean, and both traditional and simplified Chinese explaining the correct way to use a Japanese-style toilet and what to do with used toilet paper. Adding a few such posters or stickers to the stall interiors at Kayabuki no Sato might be the best plan during the transitionary period to help remind people that when in Rome, one should poop as the Romans do.

Related: Kayabuki no Sato official website

Sources: J-Cast News via Livedoor News via Jin, Kyoto City

Insert images: Pakutaso, Kyoto City

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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In some countries there are squat toilets but no toilet paper. A spray or other source of water is provided so that the user of the toilet can wash his/her bum after use.

I wonder if all Japanese know how to use these toilets as they have become a bit of a rarity.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I avoid squat toilets like the Uyoku vans.

 A spray or other source of water is provided so that the user of the toilet can wash his/her bum after use.

I ONLY use Toilets equipped with Washlets now.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I saw some squat toilets in Eastern Europe. Better than nothing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Chinese should be at the top of the instructions, in a bigger font. I guess they put the Japanese top to look polite.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

OK.......I got the squatting bit wrong at the start, but not as shown in the diagram, which showed the person resting on the upright piece at the back, but as squatting in front of it. The other thing was how far was the toilet paper away from the actual toilet? As some one with shortish arms it seemed quite a stretch.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Install Western toilets. I can't use those Japanese ones anymore.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Out of the 12 restroom stalls at this restroom, eight of them have Japanese-style toilets

As it's a tourist destination, maybe the ratio should be reversed. Or, better yet, just upgrade all 12. Those old style squatters are difficult for seniors to use and disliked by younger Japanese.

The use of those old things seem to be held onto simply out of tradition, not actual demand.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I first came across squat toilets on my first visit to France in the 1960s. I thought someone had stolen the toilet. The trains were worse with just a hole in the floor. OMG.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Aly Rustom

I avoid squat toilets like the Uyoku vans.

They're both filled with the same thing.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

This is dangerous. What about people with weaker lower body and not able to squat properly plus not being able to hang on to something?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I avoid squat toilets like the Uyoku vans.

They're both filled with the same thing.

gary- best quote I've read in I don't know how long!!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

help remind people that when in Rome, one should poop as the Romans do.

In Rome, there were no partitions between the toilets. It was a group affair.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I first came across squat toilets on my first visit to France in the 1960s.

I was going to report same thing (at it now) but you beat me to it. It was 1959 and I was just 15 years old. Coming to Japan in the mid 60s after traveling to dozens of countries north to south and east to west I had figured things out. Sanitary awareness is still withheld to millions of people.

The trains were worse with just a hole in the floor.

Tell me about it. The NS trains in the Netherlands were the same.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Those are fancy squatters! When I was a wee lad, I’d visit gran’s house and there was no toilet. Had to walk to a nearby cinema if I had to take a poo, and the squatters there were flushed by buckets of water. People often didn’t flush them (or poo accurately).

1 ( +4 / -3 )

For those unable to squat, using these "facilities" is impossible.

When you gotta go, you gotta go. No wonder it ends up on the floor.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

餓死鬼

When I was a wee lad, I’d visit gran’s house and there was no toilet. Had to walk to a nearby cinema if I had to take a poo, and the squatters there were flushed by buckets of water. 

Did you have to walk 5 miles uphill barefoot in the snow to school each day, too?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This is too large. Occidental don’t spread their legs sumo like. They just don’t have the muscle for this position. And in Japan, if memory serve me right, this use to be less large. Just a split in the ground.

°

MMF

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Came across squat toilets or more accurately a hole in the ground in Serbia, then part of the old Yugoslavia in the 70s while travelling by bus from London to Athens and an uniformed old lady sold you toilet paper by the sheet at the door, so it could be a lot worse than this.

Like a lot of older people, Arthritis in the knees would now make using this impossible. For a tourist destination converting them seems the most sensible solution, the village looks a very interesting place to visit.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Did you have to walk 5 miles uphill barefoot in the snow to school each day, too?

That certainly would make for a fantastic tale of childhood woe! However, no. The town in Merseyside where I grew up was generally flat, or at least the school routes that were relevant to me were. Adequate sanitation facilities too, far as I know. City where I was born though, 广州, back when we would visit every couple of years, was a bit different. There was a squat toilet in my father's parents' place and none at all in my mother's parents' place. A few of my strongest memories of visits to Guangzhou: playing 象棋 with my grandad (and being elated when I won for the first time), getting laid low for three weeks by bottled "mineral" water, and, alas, walking to the nearest cinema and perhaps the grottiest squat toilets I've ever seen every time I needed to go for a poo (and happened to be at the wrong place). First time I saw a squat toilet in Japan in Rittō, unpleasant childhood memories came back (also the second and last time in my life I ever saw poo that had completely missed the toilet).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

For those unable to squat, using these "facilities" is impossible.

When you gotta go, you gotta go. No wonder it ends up on the floor.

It's even worse when your massively drunk.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These type of lavatories are too old. Japan is not a poor nation, proper toilets should be provided or there will be trouble and there has been.

Always had proper sanity and lavatories when I was young, the again we are a decent family, not aware of or care to know how common people did their business, you see.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

They can be gross, but I don't entirely dislike them. Not having to touch the seat is a nice thing. But you have to be able to do the poop squat, which few foreigners can do.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Those are fancy squatters!

They are and they have water flush.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe, Japan should adopt the style that is most prevalent in Asia instead of spending time drawing stickmen?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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