Home Tips and Tricks A Sneaky Workaround For Using Squat Toilets

A Sneaky Workaround For Using Squat Toilets

by SharonKurheg

The first time I encountered a squat toilet was the early-mid 1990s, when I went to Japan with a friend of mine named Teri. It was a very different experience for a Westerner to visit back then…the internet wasn’t as all-encompassing as it is now, so you had less opportunity to learn the ins and outs as a visitor. There weren’t nearly as many “English subtitles” to help you with street signs, transportation, etc. (I spoke about 100 words of Japanese at the time [including the furniture one would find in a living room, because you really NEED that as a tourist], Teri could only say “thank-you” in the language, and neither of us could read or write in hiragana, katakana or kanji. Teri and I would sit with a map and compare characters to figure out where we were and where we wanted to go). And there were many less Western-style toilets than there are nowadays.

We were in a public park one day and I had to go. I had little idea of how to use a squat toilet the right way, and although I didn’t make a mess, (thank goodness), it was NOT a comfortable position for me to be in.

Things are better if you go to Japan nowadays. There are MANY more English translations when you’re out and about, at least if you stick to the large and medium-sized cities that cater to tourists. And just about anything you’d ever want to know is at your fingertips, thanks to the internet…including everything you’d ever want to know about using a squat toilet. Case in point:

WikiHow – How to Use a Squat Toilet

Then again, apparently, not all Japanese people are 100% sure of how to use a squat toilet, either. 😉

Of course, you can use those instructions for any country that uses squat toilets on a regular basis. But if you’re in Japan (and perhaps other countries, as well) and just have difficulties with squat toilets because of age, size, bad knees/hips or just plain uncomfortableness, you may be in luck! Lots more places usually have Western-style toilets available.

If the park, school, temple, old building, etc. doesn’t have Western-style toilets, there’s still the possibility of one more option.

The handicapped-accessible toilet.


Let me tell you that I am the last one to ever recommend an able-bodied person use the handicapped stall. I worked as an occupational therapist for almost 25 years and on top of that, my mother-in-law was disabled and I hated that she would have to stand in the ladies’ room with her crutches, in pain, while waiting for some able-bodied person to get out of the handicapped stall that they took because it was bigger and gave them more room.

But desperate times in Asia call for desperate measures.

Handicapped toilets are always Western-style, so no squatting is required. And I suspect if a native saw you come out of the handicapped toilet, they would “get it.” So yeah…if you gotta go and there aren’t any Western-style toilets available but there is a handicapped-accessible stall or room, I’d say go for it.

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Glenn May 16, 2019 - 9:44 am

The technical term for them is “Eastern-style toilets”.

Christian May 16, 2019 - 11:59 am

Japan has three different sets of characters? That seems a lot to learn.

chris January 8, 2022 - 7:18 pm

Squad toilet is the proper way to poop, anatomically.

SharonKurheg January 9, 2022 - 12:27 am

Agreed. But most people in the West….don’t 😉

Mark January 9, 2022 - 2:57 am

“Let me tell you that I am the last one to ever recommend an able-bodied person use the handicapped stall.

But desperate times in Asia call for desperate measures.“

Sorry (Not sorry) to say but for me as someone who depends on these type of toilets these sentences don’t fit together.

1. In most places I have been to nowadays there are western style toilets.
2. If there are none, learn how to use the squat toilets if your are physically able to
3. there is nur „but“ in using accessible toilets if you don’t depend on them.

swoopest January 9, 2022 - 7:40 am

Serious question: When a guy needs to urinate and only a squat toilet is available, is he “supposed” to stand or squat?

SharonKurheg January 9, 2022 - 9:57 am

I don’t know the answer to that one. Sorry. I do know that lots of Japanese men, when confronted with a Western style toilet (which is more and more common nowadays anyway) will sit instead of stand, in the name of cleanliness (harder to miss that way). But I don’t know about the stand vs. squat for urinating, for guys. -Sharon

Mak January 9, 2022 - 1:23 pm

Mark, you seem like quite a jerk to me. Somebody unable to use a squat toilet shouldn’t use a handicapped toilet that they can use that nobody else is using, because somebody like you might want to use it? Why do you think you’re more entitled to use a toilet than these other people? Why do you feel entitled to deny them access to toilets they can use? Self-centered much?


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