Tag Archives: Hygiene

Unequalled Japanese Hygiene

From magic toilets to wet finger napkins/”wet tissue”


Hot spring foot bath in Shuzenji, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture!

Japan is considered by many a traveler, tourist and businessperson as one of the mst beutiful countries in the world. But the Land of the Rising Sun has another in her pocket other than the beauty of her landscapes, her universally recognized gastronomy or her financial opportunities: a daily life safety unbeknownst in our lands, a comfort bordering on obsession, but above all an hygiene above any norms.


Baths in hot spring hotel in Shuzenji, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture

Japan has been blessed since immemorial times with an abundance of natural water rushing down her mountains all year round and with a generally  abrupt geographical profile allowing for a natural and fast evacuation of debris, and soiled waters. This active volcano-dotted archipelago  is replete with hot springs which have been exploited for more than 1,500 years and contributed to the establishment of daily baths as never witnessed in any other countries.
The Japanese do not wash themsleves inside bathtubs. They clean their body first before immersing themselves in clean and ideally warm water. This attention to the cleanliness of their bodies before plunging it in a veritable liquid massage is the more remarkable when you consider the icy cold winter and tropical summers prevalent in most Japan.
In fact the love of the Japanese for their hot springs (“onsen”) lies not only in the need to warm up their bodies in summer but also to treat their skins and even clean their internal organs in summer.


Junior high school students scrubbing their own toilets!

When it comes to natural needs the inhabitants of this crowded archipelago far away from the rest of Asia have always understood the vital importance of a strict daily hygiene be it that of individuals or groups. Already by the end of the 19th Century, when Japan “reopened her doors” to the rest of the World, Occidental visitors were surprised, if not shocked, by this attention brought to the care of the body that they often mistakenly interpreted as a lack of  decency, the more for it that the same Japanese showed a great sexual freedom and a marked veneration for all kinds of fertilty symbols in their daily life and festivals (“matsuri”). After all the famous/notorious Japanese erotic  woodblock prints (“shunga”) had been possible only with ethics vastly different from those considered as normal in Europe and and North America. Homosexuality and bisexuality were condemned as they were in the “Westernized World”. Accordingly the Japanese are not bashful at all when it comes to frankly talk about natural needs even when Westerners attempted to impose their customs and interdicts in this country which never accepted colonization in spite of its preparedness to other standards than their own.

Japanese magic toilets/a recent revolution

Undoubtedly those famous Japanese toilets are very much talked about although few outside Japan know how they have become part and parcel of daily life in this country.
Until 30 years ago they existed only in two distinct forms.”Japanese toilets”, that is the oldest model that consists of  simple toilets above which you have to crouch (somewhat like inverted Turkish toilets). They still can be found in many public toilets. After WWII flush toilets and urinals started to appear. But it was in 2004 that Japanese toilets became magical thanks to the added quasi computers hidden inside their structure enabling the control of a bidet system that architects and builders adopted to the point of equipping half of the Japanese abodes within a single year. In Japan bidets are commonly called “washlets”, a commercial name owned by the TOTO Company, a company based in Kitakyushu (Kyushu Island).
Apart of a far better hygiene and easier maintenance and cleaning the main reason for the popularity of this type of toilets is that many Japanese suffered from piles/hemorrhoids due to the physical effort required to stay in a crouching position above the traditional toilets. Actually Japan holds the world record number of clinics solely specializing in proctology and colorectal surgery, a extremely lucrative medical field in spite of the recent change in toilets.
Although most public toilets, school toilets and those found in temples and stations are traditionally equipped, the Japanese prefer to sit down on a toilet at home, especially old citizens for whom the crouching position can become particularly difficult and uncomfortable.


But it is when you disembark at a Japanese airpor that you will discover incredible state of of the art facilities due to the fierce competition between the two biggest companies in the field, namely TOTO (50% share of the production) and INAX (25%), which make most of their profits with hotels all over the World, especially in the Middle East. The long rolling carpets carrying you from planes to different arrival gates are regularly interrupted to allow tired travelers to relieve themselves after a long voyage not only inside vast and spotless facilities but also equipped with the very latest amenities. Although divided according to gender, the only difference is that the toilets for gents are also equipped with state of the art urinals (no button to press, which avoids any dicey contacts!). The toilets on which you sit are fit with two types of washlets whose temperature you can regulate, one to wash your backside, the other for ladies’ intimate parts Even if you do not understand Japanese the small illustrations will leave you in no doubt! And thay are even equipped qith hot air drying systems for people who do not want to use paper at all!


Of course all modern hotels are equipped thus, but another difference with Western countries is that yu will find toilets almost anywhere in Japan, either public inside railway stations, parks, beaches, sport centers and areas and leisure spots and supermarkets where they will always be state of the art but which are immensely cleaner, but they will sport the latest models inside department stores, museums, theaters, movies, concert halls as well as inside town halls, police stations and other public buildings! An embarrassment of choices! And furthermore they are spotless clean at any hour of the day and night!
The Japanese went as far as devising mobile telephone app called”Check a Toilet”. this app will enable you to find the nearest public toilets, wherever you are!

A word for our ladies: “otohime”



Many Japanese ladies feel embarrassed by the notion of someone being able to hear the noise raised by their visits to the toilets to the point of developing a kind of allergy called “timid bladder”! To hide all the noises many women will let water run all the way through thus causing an incredible waste of water. As education campaigns could not help eradicate such a practice a system was devised during the 1980’s.Once activated it reproduces the sound of water being flushed without having to have to let the water. One of of the brands proposing such a device is Otohime (音姫), which literally means “The Princess of Sound”, thus named after the Japanese Goddess Otohime, daughter of the God Ryujin (although the Chinese characters for Otohime are different (乙姫) and mean “the Second Princess”. This device is installed in most new toilets for ladies, while many old public ladies toilets are also equipped with it. The Otohime can either be an independent device fixed on the inside wall of the toilets or as a component of of the washlet. One can activate the device by pressing a button or with a hand passing in front of a sensor. Once activated the device will emit a similar sound to that of a real water flush. Thus more than 20 liters of water can be saved every day with such an apparatus. Nonetheless many a ladyy still thinks that the sound of the Otohime is artificial and prefer a constant water flushing than using the recorded tape. As it seems that such a device is not required or requested in gents toilets it will very seldom be found in public amenites

Apart of the toilets you will also discover that the hygiene standards in Japanese hotels is almost unheard of in Western establishments. In any case you will not find a star ranking system or else which allows tight-fisted hotel owners back home to do without advantages considered as the norm in any Japanese hotel. Any decent standard hotel provides shampoos, eau de toilette, razors, combs, brushes and others changed every day with your sheets, and this in hotels costing less than 50 euros a night!

Of course the same applies to restaurants and cafés in the whole country.
Actually it has turned into a cutthroat competition as to which establishment will offer the best amenities. Even away from Tokyo, I know many a restaurant which besides state of the art bilingual washrooms will offer you mouthwash, disposable toothpicks and ear cotton swabs without mentioning a whole palette of paper napkins!


Talking of paper it simply becomes outlandish: single layer, double layer, triple layer, soft, exra soft, white, colored, with motifs all kinds, I just can’t mention them all! Stores generally have a single department dedicated to their sole display!


Incidentally many hotels complain that their toilet paper completely disappears after the visit by tourists from other Asian countries!


Finger napkins/”wet tissue”.


Anti germ finger wet tissue napkins.SN3O0272

Finger napkins/wet tissue and others for men only!

Finger napkins/”wet tissue” are simply delirious!
In fact #finger napkins/wet tissue” doesn’t mean whrn one is confronted  by ts choice, be it for ladies or gents (or children and senior citizens!)!
Wet napkins, anti-germ or perfumed, not only for hands and fingers (and nails) but also various parts of body, napkins of different size, napkins for sportsmen or professionals, talcum napkins, anti germ napkins for toilet seats, tables, chairs and others, and others, and others…
In fact many people who buy them just to build up a collection to show to their friends as manyof them are conceived for a publicity and commemorative purpose!


So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
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Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Japanese Restaurants Washrooms & Toilets Standards: The Best in The World?

Inside the washroom of a famous French Restaurant in Shizuoka City, Japan!

Washroom and toilets equipment and facilities are probably the most unsung export of Japan!
Just check the shares of such companies as Toto and Inax!
The Japanese live in a country which has to deal with extreme changes in climate and temperature on top of a very high humidity during blazing summers and flood-ridden typhoon seasons.
No wonder the Japanese have become the most picknicky people in the World in their island with an attention to detail that defies the imagination when it comes to personal hygiene!
After all, they are the biggest consumers of paper tissue and wet tissues in the World, too!

The toilets have their lid constantly closed over a heated seat!

In a region like Shizuoka celebrated for its gastronomy all over the country, new restaurants, bars, cafes and even izakaya are outdoing each other with their high-tech washroom and toilets!
Japan is probably the only country where I would dare pronounce the word “toilets” during a meal!
As an example to illustrate what you can and are entitled to expect let me “take you” to the facilities of a celebrated French restaurant which opened 4 years ago with the latest equipment of the time, a standard which has since been outclassed by many more establishments!

First the room itself is large enough for 2 people (spare me the idea!) and catering for many purposes.
As you can see on the above pictures the toilets are covered with a complete lid, a bonus compared to those gaping mouths contraceptions waiting for you back home (in France, in my case!)!
The seat of course can be heated and regulated to a comfortable temperature all year round.
Some new establishments will have toilets whose lid and seat will automatically lift and fall back down upon your entrance and exit!
The toilets themselves will be equipped with washlets spouting lukewarm water (can be regulated, too!). A boon for people with physical limitations!

Don’t start a futile search for levers or cord to press or pull, all handling comes under the form of a “computer box”!
Sometimes the Japanese characters can spell for troubling confusion but the most recent handling boxes are illustrated with small unequivocal “pictures” for a very easy understanding whatever country you come from!

You are “done with it”? Alright, let’s go and wash our hands at the sink located on the opposite side of the room.
A great improvement on most hotel toilet facilities where mirrors and basin are uncomfortably close to your toilets seat if not right in front of you!

A clean and classic white basin with a single adjustable cold/hot water tap/faucet.
I’ve seen other establishments in town adorning this particular section with black marble or false antique basin and tap!
I personally prefer white as an undeniable proof of good hygiene, but this is open to personal tastes!
Actually in this particular restaurant, all wasroom equipment is white from the toilet seat to the hand-washing liquid bottle!

Paper tissues and individual towels are clearly separated! No danger of exchanging germs here!

A cloth-lined basket for the hand towels and a (closed) dustbin for the paper tissue and others!

The washroom is equipped with a large mirror for ladies to rectify their make up and for gentlemen to inflate their ego.
Now, what is in that box on the table left of the mirror?

Extra service: maothwash capsules and cotton swabs (ear buds in England!)!
You might smile or grin, but such mouthwash could come very handy after too much drinking or before going back to work after lunch. Now, I know a lot of uses for cotton swabs….

All this has become a reference for basic excellence. More and more establishments offer even better facilities and I make a point to clearly assess this “unmetionable trait” in all reports on my gastronomic aventures!


Five Euro Food by Charles
With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery