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Japan unveils latest plan to attract tourists – new toilet symbols


The Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association has developed the set of eight symbols in an effort to make the country’s hi-tech toilets more user-friendly ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The new symbols

The toilets, known as “washlets”, are famous for confusing visitors with their unexpected functions which include everything from spraying air freshener and playing music and bird songs to the “otohime” or “sound princess” – a flushing sound in the women’s loo designed to cover “natural” sounds.

Previously, electric toilet manufacturers used different symbols for the various functions, which often resulted in loo-related mishaps for unlucky tourists.

Designed to create “a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind”, the new symbols include signs for “strong flush,” “bidet” and “raise/lower the lid.”

Japan does love showing off its toilet tech to the world. The “warm water flushing toilet seat” was introduced for the previous Tokyo Olympics in 1964 – now, nearly 80 per cent of all Japanese households have one.

Definitely beats our bog-standard loos.

Lauren Broomham

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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