How To Use Asian Squat Toilets

You might be in for a surprise the first time you use a restroom in East Asia. Sometimes it comes without warning, and even if you have heard of them before, your first time using one will be a learning experience. While squat toilets may seem new to you, they have been used for a long time throughout Japan, China, India and various other parts of the world.

Image from Yuya Tamai’s Flickr.

Through my research, extensive planning, and fantasizing about my life in Japan, I discovered squat toilets. Extremely foreign to me, I dove into some more research. What I found is that my chances to encounter one of these toilets were slim since most of Japan has switched over to a rather fancy sitting toilet (phew!). Although they are not used in most of Tokyo, you can still run into a restroom that leaves you with the only option of using a squatty potty.

As a Westerner, squat toilets were the one foreign thing I tried to avoid at all costs, but there were a few instances where it was the only option I had. After my first month of living in Japan, I thought I was in the clear. Every public restroom I used had a “Western” toilet option. In places that I found myself waiting in line to use the restroom, I would kindly let the person behind me use the squat toilet if I found that it was the next available (after a strange look or two).

Then, it happened.

In the middle of Tokyo’s largest firework festival, and after one too many conbini beers, I was in dire need of a toilet. After making my way to the nearest train station I found that my only option to empty my bladder was a squat toilet. Luckily, I completed my duty mess free, and I only had to maneuver a squat toilet two more times during my time in Japan.

Image from “Journeys of the Fabulist” on WordPress.

If you happen to find yourself traveling or staying in more rural parts of Japan, or perhaps many part of Asia, there is a few things to know “before you go”. One thing that travelers should be forewarned about is that not every squat toilet comes equipped with an ever-so-luxurious roll of toilet paper. So, if you don’t want to find yourself in a rather awkward situation, its best to carry around a pack or two of tissues. This next tip goes for many restrooms that you may come across no matter how new or high tech they are. You might find that when you go to wash your hands there well…might not be any soap. If plan ol’water won’t suffice, then portable hand sanitizer can easily do the trick.

If you ever find yourself wide-eyed staring at a squat toilet the next time you make your way to the restroom in another country, don’t panic! Remember, you are in a different country and now is the time to embrace another culture in ways you may have never thought of. Just be careful not to slip!


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Kellie Parker

Hey! Kellie is a 22 year old super senior working on her International Studies degree and completing a TEFL certificate at the University of Central Florida in sunny Orlando, Florida. Her hobbies include: traveling, studying Japanese, obsessing over kawaii things, going to 2000s hip-hop nights, making her friends take pictures of her in front of mural walls, binge eating Hot Cheetos, petting puppies, using only the stair master at the gym, being a Mario Kart champion, getting free samples, and posting all of the yummy food she eats on her foodie IG @futari_food.

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