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You would imagine that most toilets across the world aren’t very difficult to use, but that’s not always the case in Japan. The country has long had a reputation for having toilets so technologically advanced that they often confuse foreign visitors. Now, travelers should find going to the bathroom in the Asian nation a lot simpler, after the Japan Restroom Industry Association agreed to standardize their symbols.
As reported by The Verge, a consortium of companies that includes Toto, Panasonic, and Toshiba will unify the iconography found in the control panels of Japanese toilets to help bewildered, frightened tourists, who often don’t know if they’re about to flush something away or blast it back up whence it came.
“Until now, manufacturers have adopted pictograms that seem to be optimal,” wrote the association, “but when foreign tourists use public toilets such as at hotels and sightseeing facilities, it is difficult to understand the operation buttons.”
From top left to bottom right, the symbols represent: large flush, small flush, raise the lid, raise the seat, stop, rear spray, bidet, and dry.
Japan wants to make its bathrooms more welcoming as the country prepares for an influx of visitors heading for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Not understanding how they worked and what functions the symbols represented were tourists' top complaints about Japanese toilets, so hopefully the new icons will address these issues and create “a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind.”
In other Japanese bathroom-related news, it was reported last month that the country’s Narita Airport had introduced toilet paper for smartphones, letting stall users clean their screens after answering the call of nature.