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The Japanese government is under a lot of pressure to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just right. It’s not an easy task, and even though there are already millions of travelers who have a high interest in Japan, the society itself is often regarded as less open compared to others, and the language barrier can also be tricky to overcome.
But in times when comprehension proves to be rather difficult, pictographs can help — especially when direct communication with someone isn't really an option, like when you're in the bathroom. In fact, Japanese toilets can be particularly confusing due to all the advanced functions they have. However, this might all change thanks to the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, as they recently decided to unify the symbols that often vary depending on the toilet, and has begun testing with foreigner focus groups and analysts.
Japanese toilets are considered the most advanced in the world, with even a toilet museum being created in their honor. You can find high-end toilets in most stores that not only let you take care of your "business," but can also clean, rinse, and dry your little behind. Many toilet seats feature heating technology and opens/closes automatically.
To prevent unnecessary trouble to foreigners, foreign friendly symbols need to be carefully redefined, so foreign tourists too can have a pleasant experience in the bathroom.
From left to right: Toilet lid - open/close; toilet seat- open/close; large flush; small flush
The complete treatment: Backside wash; bidet; dryer; stop. (The square stop sign is critical since it otherwise could turn your toilet into a disastrous water fountain.)
Madaka Kitamura, head of the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, and other representatives showcased the new standard of toilet symbols at an event in Tokyo on Tuesday. A survey was taken in 2014, addressing that 25% of 600 foreign respondents said they were unable to understand the images that appeared on buttons for spray toilets.