Japan Standardizes Toilet Icons


In the United States, toilets are pretty run of the mill.  You may occasional come across an automatic flush or foot flush toilet, instead of the standard lever, but that is about as adventurous as it gets.  However, in Japan, toilets are serious business.

Across Japan, you will find high-tech toilets with numerous features and buttons, you may even find your toilet seat has a heated option.  Unfortunately, the numerous options can be very confusing for tourists who do not understand Japanese, particularly as different toilet brand manufacturers use the same symbols for different functions.

In an effort to make the products more user-friendly, Japan’s Sanitary Equipment Industry Association has announced standardized symbols for all its toilets.  The pictographs represent eight common functions: large flush, small flush, lift lid, lift seat, stop, rear wash, front wash, and dry.  Japan hopes the standardized graphic designs will foster “a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind.”

While these new changes will be implemented in April, these eight functions are only a start.  Many toilets feature more exotic functions such as deodorizers, white noise features, and, as mentioned, seat warmers.  Japan is turning to more standardized graphic designs across industries, such as in maps last year, as it prepares for the Tokyo Olympics in 202, with an expected 40 million visitors.

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