Hello World! Japanese bathrooms are usually separated into three areas: sink, bath/shower, and toilet. If you’re staying at a hotel you probably won’t experience separation like this (it’ll be more like a Western style setup).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this typical of all Japanese bathrooms?
I would say that for the Japanese homes I’ve visited in Tokyo, it’s fairly standard, a bit old even.
Ya. Maybe for the rich. This is what most bathrooms in Japan are like (see video below).
The unit we’re living in was built in the 90’s, so it’s almost 20 years old. We live in what the Japanese call a mansion, which is what people in the West call an apartment. It’s about 70 square metres, which is roughly 750 square feet. There’s three bedrooms 1 living room, 1 kitchen, 1 toilet, 1 washroom sink, and 1 bathing / shower area. While some people in Tokyo think it’s kind of a spacious place, it’s not anything special to locals and rent is considered affordable at $1,000 USD a month. However, we do live in the biggest city in the world in a prosperous country, and are very lucky to have jobs and income that allows us to live in a place like we do.
Must be a pain in the buttnoggin’ to clean.
I do the cleaning, and it is and isn’t a pain in the buttnoggin’ to clean. After I drain the bath water, I spray the tub with cleaner and brush it for about a minute. Then I rinse it a few times. It takes me about 3 minutes. Every month I spend about 30-60 minutes cleaning the entire area, including the walls and the floor. I have special mold/mildew spray that I use and it works fairly well. The sucky part is opening up below the tub. There’s a drain that gets clogged with hair and because my unit is older, it’s a flat area all under the tub (it’s similar to the flat tray under your dish rack). So it’s pretty disgusting under there if you don’t clean it frequently.
I don’t want to use other peoples bath water… even if they are “clean”
Within a family unit, I don’t think it’s a big concern for Japanese people. You do make sure you’re fully clean before you go in. That being said, going to public baths (onsen) is big in Japan, and it’s the same process as show in the video, but instead of getting in a bath for one, you can bath with dozens of people (in a bigger body of water of course). It’s actually one of my favourite things to do. Check out the video below made by the travel blogger Notes of Nomads to see what it’s like.
Everything was great in Japan when I visited last month, except for the fact that I would say 85% of restrooms did not have soap (Hotel rooms and my Airbnb rooms did though). I saw many people who went to the bathroom and then simply walked out, not even washing their hands with water.
Yeah, the lack of soap and dryers is frustrating. I carry sanitizer with me all the time. The one good thing is that almost all parks have bathrooms, so it’s fairly easy to find a place to do your business.
What would be the point of using the bath if you cleaned yourself before you got in?
It’s to relax. I’d rather relax in clean water than dirty, soapy water, wouldn’t you?
Can someone explain why you would reuse dirty bath water?
Well, there’s a coupe uses for the greywater.
One is by sharing bath water. At first, it was a bit weird for me to share the same bath water, but all I can say is don’t knock it until you try it. People do spray off with clean water after they exit the bath if that helps assuage your fears any.
Second is for the wash cycle of doing laundry. This is the cycle where laundry detergent is used. The final rinse cycle is done with fresh water.
Another non-bath water use for greywater is for flushing the toilet. Many Western style Japanese toilets have a sink on the top that you can wash your hands in as it fills up the water tank.
How does the control panel keep the water hot?
The bath is connected to a heater system (in our home it’s a gas heater). There are water pipes that go to the heater and back. My unit seems to pipe in hot water every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure the temperature is maintained. How do the pipes not get dirty when re-circulating the water? I have no clue?