I recently moved from my Tokyo hotel to a Tokyo Airbnb apartment. It’s my first experience with a Japanese-style bathroom and shower, which is a bit different from what we’re used to in the United States … so allow me to take you on a little tour!
First, the toilet is in its own tiny room:
The seat on the toilet is heated, which is surprisingly AWESOME, especially since Japanese homes can get chilly in the winter.
As you may already know, most Japanese toilets have a lot of fancy gadgetry on the side. Even if you went to a McDonald’s, the bathroom would have a nice toilet. This apartment’s toilet has the usual perks.
I can’t read Kanji, but the set-up is pretty standard: a “shower” option for your privates, as well the option for a more focused, strategic stream of water. You can also adjust the pressure of the stream. And, of course, the “stop” button when it’s time to call it quits.
Here’s the coolest part:
When you flush this toilet, the (clean) water going into the tank comes out of this little faucet first … for washing your hands! The Japanese are much more conscious about water and energy conservation than the average American (like me).
Which is also evident in the bathing area:
This is another separate room. When you shut the door, this room is water tight, with a floor that slopes slightly toward a drain in the corner. In Japan, bathtubs aren’t used for cleaning your body. You get in the tub for soaking, relaxing and rejuvenating after you’ve washed yourself. Often, the tub has a cover to keep the water warm so it can be used multiple times (the same water) by various members of the family. Fancier tubs have special electronics to heat the water and maintain a certain temperature. They also come with a button to call for help in case there’s an emergency.
The RIGHT side of this room is where you clean yourself, presumably before stepping into the bath. Standing on the floor (or sitting on a stool), you wet yourself down using the spray nozzle (or a separate bucket of water), then you turn off the water (conservation!) and proceed to shampoo your hair and soap up your body. When you’re done with that, you either rinse by dumping the bucket of water over your head or turning the water back on and hosing yourself down. All clean!
There’s a swiveling faucet that can fill up the small sink or the bigger tub, with an adjustment on the left for controlling the temperature:
On the wall outside the room, there’s a keypad with all sorts of options. I haven’t been able to decipher the Kanji, but I know that they control a fan to heat, cool, or dehumidify the bathing room. You can even hang your wet laundry in the room and use the controls to dry your clothes. Gadgetry!
I love the bathing room because you can spray water anywhere, and it’s completely fine. It either goes down the drain or evaporates after you’re done. The whole system is efficient, logical and easy. I guess there’s something to be said for a long, hot, American-style shower … but, most times, I just want to get clean and start my day. The simpler I can make my morning routine, the more time I’ll have to explore.
And, as a bonus for reading this far, I’ll share a video I recorded at a public restroom in Tokyo station. Not only was this stall (in a major train station) immaculately clean, it also came with its own white noise machine. This one made the sound of a babbling brook to mask any unladylike noises you might make. Gadgetry!