Japan’s Washlet is not just a household fixture, it’s an experience.

Let’s face it: going to the bathroom in these chilly winter months can be a pain in the butt. Slick tile floors make the bathroom feel like an arctic cave, and icy toilet seats make relieving yourself anything but a relief—unless, of course, you live in Japan. Unlike the humdrum Canadian versions, Japanese toilets are not just an after-thought, they’re a full-service experience. For one thing, the phrase “go to the bathroom” doesn’t always translate, since traditional homes often have separate rooms for the toilet and bath. And for an added bonus, the toilet room includes its own set of cosy slippers to keep your tootsies warm when you’re doing the deed.

Special slippers are only the beginning of this hygienic wonderland. Since the 1980s, Japan’s technological know-how has been harnessed to provide its citizens with “the Washlet,” a luxurious toilet now available in homes and businesses across the country. These high-tech “go”-catchers include a heated seat and a soundless mechanism that raises and lowers the seat and lid with a wave at the motion sensor—or at the push of a button. That’s just one button on the Washlet’s control panel, which looks a bit like the deck of a one-person rocket ship. These buttons give you a magical range of options, and the toilet itself is programmed to anticipate all your needs. To help maintain a spotless bowl, the Washlet prepares for your deposit by misting the interior with a shot of electrolyzed water, which keeps away any unsightly evidence of your visit. And don’t bother setting out that Ocean Breeze candle when you can power up the Washlet’s deodorizer, which deploys a pleasant, well-timed waft of perfume. There’s also a button to play music or the soothing sounds of nature, a feature meant both to relax you and to cover any of those indelicate man-made sounds.

But the most magical function of the Washlet is the bidet. Once you’ve completed your mission, the Washlet bidet shoots up a gentle stream of water to clean you off—and while this refreshing spray might be startling for first-time users, you’ll quickly come to love it. Both the tempera- ture and power of the spray is adjustable to suit each individual’s needs, so you can get the perfect clean every time. The Washlet also has buttons for “front” and “back,” which allow the nozzle to swivel to target areas no matter what kind of deposit you’re making—an especially useful feature for ladies, who spend all their time seated. And just when you think the Washlet bidet couldn’t get more heavenly, you discover the dryer. This button is a crucial follow-up to the bidet, one that makes toilet paper a thing of the past: press it once to enjoy the warm, quick-drying effects, then head back to your other business feeling utterly refreshed.

Learn the DOs and DON’Ts for your washroom visit


If you’ve never used a Washlet before, you’re in for a truly transformative experience. To make the most of it, and to avoid any embarrassing flubs, follow these three key steps to toilet success.


DO read the directions

Even if you can’t read Japanese, the Washlet’s main features include cute pictures to help you understand what you’re in for.


DON’T  press the buttons while facing the toilet

Sit down before curiosity gets the best of you, or you might end up with a face full of toilet water.


DO get in the hot seat

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of having your buns perfectly toasted by a Washlet in the dead of winter.

Illustrations by Chieko Watanabe