Japan standardizes toilet buttons to accommodate foreign tourists

Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association

The decision to create these standardised pictograms came about after a 2014 survey found that a quarter of 600 foreign respondents said they were unable to understand the images that appeared on buttons for spray toilets.

The symbols will also be uncurled on modular devices that retrofit regular toilets.

Using a toilet can be a grueling adventure in Japan with an intimidating phalanx of buttons greeting a person when they sit on the throne.

Japan wants to close the lid on commode confusion in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Right, think we've offended quite enough races for one day.

On Tuesday, the Japan Restroom Industry Association announced that it had developed a new set of control panel illustrations for multifunctional "super toilets", standardizing the symbols for the benefit of foreign visitors.

Japan's most state-of-the-art toilets offer everything from seat warming and bidet functions to motion sensors, variable jet strengths and powerful deodorisers.

The nine manufacturers belonging to the association will introduce the pictogrammes, featuring what they hope will be obvious symbols, in their new products to be launched in April or later. They have also targeted to push for it to be an worldwide standard.

As more foreigners choose Japan as a holiday destination, the country's toilet manufacturers have joined forces to simplify the sometimes complicated business of washing and drying Japanese style.

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