How Do The 'Toilets' In Asia Work?

It’s my understanding that most of the toilets in Asia aren’t like the porceline fixtures we have here, but rather are little more than holes in the floor. How does one poop using this type of fixture?

At first I thought maybe you just pull your pants down around your ankles and squat over the hole, but it doesn’t seem like there would be enough clearance between your pants and ground zero so you might end up soiling them. Then I thought maybe you take off your pants, but this would mean you have to take off your shoes as well and possibly stand in other people’s fecal matter with your bare feet.

So what is the correct procedure?


Depends on where you go. In Korea and Japan, there are plenty of both types.

Word of advice on using the in-the-floor type: DO NOT put your pants all the way to the ankles! If you do that, then your trousers will catch the, er, material. What you want to do is face the part that looks like a cup, drop your pants to your knees, then squat.

I spent three weeks in Japan crapping the wrong way round on the squatters. You poop into the flat bit, then flush it down the hole.

Haul your undies over your knees, and learn to squat with the body forwards and the heels flat on the ground. This gets the business-end away from the shoes.

I have to say, I prefer this style - it allows a much easier and more thorough evacuation.

This lesson has been most edifying and dare I say, hilarious? I don’t think there’s anything funnier than mature adults teaching each other how to crap in foreign countries. Are there any plans for master classes in figuring out the logistics of peeing and crapping at the same time in an unfamiliar bathroom?

What, you guys never took a crap outdoors? It’s the same thing. You pull down your pants just far enough to expose your nether regions and squat. It’s usually obvious which way to face - towards the half-dome shaped cover and/or towards the flush lever. Sometimes the floor around the toilet is raised by a foot or so and it looks like you might be able to sit on it like a western toilet, but no, you’re supposed to step up and squat.

For public bathrooms I prefer the squatting type. My butt doesn’t have to come in contact with any cold plastic surfaces of uncertain cleanliness.

On a similar note, there have been reports from some boarding universities of people discovering footprints on the seats/rims of Western-style toilets.

It is surmised that foreign students have attempted to stand/squat on top of our pedestal-style toilets to replicate the pooping action they are accustomed to.

(No word yet on whether Westeners have correspondingly attempted to park their butts on the tiled floor surrounding a squat toilet. ;))

How to use Japanese style toilet.

Narrad it sounds like those universities might want to do some shopping here:

I don’t care how superior the squatting method is percieved among proponents … can you read a newspaper or work on a laptop while squatting? No? So there.

Of course you can do both. You only need to be an acrobat :stuck_out_tongue:

Nor can you practice, so they’ve lost a fan right there.

Most homes in Japan now have western-style toilets, but in some older restaurants, as well in most train stations, the squat-style are more common. Personally, I avoid them if at all possible, but I’ll use them if no other options are available. What’s funnier, though, than listening to adults teach each other how to crap, is seeing the stick-figure drawings in many of the older bars in Japan explaining how to use a western-style toilet. (

BTW, if you do use one, I’d recommend emptying your pockets first, since it’s fairly easy for stuff to slip out in that position, and you really don’t want to be fishing your wallet out of there.

Narrad, I have actually heard of westerners parking their butts on the floor over the bowl. It came out when another teacher asked why we were complaining about trying to keep our balance while squatting.

Years ago, when I was 11, we were in Japan visiting relatives. I’d grown up in the US, so I preferred a western-style toilet, but on this trip, I quickly learned to use the porcelained holes when necessary. I was waiting in a bathroom just off a hotel lobby for a stall - it was occupied, and there was a middle-aged Japanese man waiting ahead of me. The occupant from the stall came out, and had this brief exchange with the guy in front of me (roughly translated into English):

First Guy: It’s one of those toilets.
Second Guy: What? One of those?
FG: Yeah.

They both peer into the stall, whereupon the Second Guy - who had been waiting to take a dump - said, “Never mind, let’s go.”

They left, and I went in to the stall to see a western-style toilet.

Heh, this works in reverse, too.

When I lived in Hong Kong, I worked in an advertising agency. One day we were filming a commercial in a low-rent TV studio. The only toilet in the building was western-style, and disgustingly dirty. We had hired a female American model for the ad, and during the shoot, she had used the toilet.

After the shoot had finished, two of my Chinese colleagues called me over, giggling: “You are westerner. Please to explain: are American women very wu-jok [dirty]?”

“No, all the ones I’ve known have been very clean,” I replied. “Why do you ask that?”

“Because Ah-Dak went to use the toilet after the American girl used it, and there were no footmarks on the rim!”

I then had to explain about the “hover” method…

If you discover yourself in Japan in the near future, be sure to go to the Daiei store in Ayase, just down the road from Naval Air Facility Atsugi. In the men’s room, on the wall next to the Western style toilet is an instruction sheet on how to use it. It’s written in both Japanese and “international graphics.”

I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings; I realize that different ways of doing things need to be clearly explained. I’m certainly grateful for this thread just in case I’m ever lucky enough to visit an asian country. I still think this is very funny.

Ah, Japanese toilets. I lived in Japan twice for a total of about 1 1/2 years, in 1988 and 1990-91. Older public buildings still have the squat toilets, but anything reasonably new has gone “western-style” (yo-shiki). I used to keep track of Mr. Donut, KFC and Makudo (McDs), which not only had the western toilets but kept them quite spotless.

Older Japanese thought western-style disgusting because your body actually came in contact with something. And doctors insisted that the position used was healther because it involved less straining - of course, they weren’t thinking of the knees and quadriceps of people unused to it!

And there’s another danger, mainly for men. Depending on your angle, if you take a leak after finishing other business you can end up hitting your shoes. Not fun.

One thing you see all the time is people squatting in the same way as they’re waiting for the bus, if there’s no bench available. I got rather used to doing that myself - never had trouble with cramping. And yes, you can definitely read a newspaper once you get used the position.

Now, many japanese homes have what I call the wash-dry-and-fold toilet seats, with all sorts of mechanical contraptions attached that are quite intimidating. For a QuickTime demo of what I mean, click on the “Chloe Washlet” here.