Kyoto Shimbun 2014.6.21 News

Foreign Tourists Puzzled over "Japanese-style Toilets"
Unfamiliar Toilets Causing Successive Troubles

While the number of foreigners visiting Japan is increasing, the Japanese-style toilets of public restrooms have become a cause of trouble at sightseeing spots in Kyoto City. Unusual filth, likely caused by people using the squat-style toilets in the reverse direction due to unfamiliarity with their proper use, put the surrounding residents and sanitary workers in a quandary. Due to budgetary restrictions, western-style toilet improvements haven't progressed and the city has called attention on how to use the Japanese-style toilets with information boards.

Kyoto City, Budgetary Restriction on Western-style Toilets Improvements too…

According to the Kyoto City Beautification Promotion Section, 44 out of 76 public restrooms under the control of Kyoto City have only Japanese-style toilets. A cleaning company employee explained about cases of conspicuous filth around the forward dome area, guessing, "Perhaps more than a few foreigners sit here." Some countries also have no custom of flushing used toilet paper so it's often left scattered outside the toilet bowl.

When asking at the Kyoto International Community House, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, a Ukrainian woman who has resided in Kyoto for 14 years answered, "For westerners, they may think about this from the assumption of where one should sit to relieve oneself." Masaya Okamoto, a member of the Kyoto City International Foundation, pointed out another possibility, saying, "It's my guess that the size of the toilet designed for Japanese people sometimes doesn't fit as well for foreigners in the first place."

Kyoto City has been advancing its modification of public toilets to Western-style ones, but available funds limit improvements to one or two places per year. Because of this, the city has installed guide boards since last March, written in English, Hangul and Chinese, at Japanese-style toilets near sightseeing spots. Using an illustration, where a man is relieving himself in a half-crouched position, the city has written advisory notes for foreigners to improve understanding of the proper way to use Japanese-style toilets. Notes include things such as, "Please flush the paper provided down the toilet." "Please do not touch the toilet bowl."

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)