Japan's hi-tech toilets to get standardised symbols

Madoka Kitamura chairman of the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association introduces the newly unified guide to the sophisticated features of Japan's high-tech toilets

Kitamura, who is also the president of Toto Ltd., a leading Japanese toilet manufacturer and one of the nine member firms, said he hopes the standardised icons will help foreign tourists enjoy the comfort of Japanese spray toilet seats and increase their popularity around the world.

In an attempt to remedy this situation, the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association (JSEIA) has announced a standardized set of symbols to accompany all of Japan's toilets.

The country's famously fancy toilets have always been the subject of fascination, but the varying button designs used by different manufacturers have also paved the way for some rude surprises delivered to foreigners' nether regions.

In a 2014 survey of 600 foreign visitors, a quarter said they could not understand some of the symbols that appear on the toilet buttons.

17 that it will unify eight pictograms that indicate each of the functions for toilet seats with built-in bidets.

The Japanese companies also aim to make the new pictograms an worldwide standard in toilets, eventually.

Japan is attracting tourists in record numbers and authorities are focussed on making the country more welcoming for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. As foreigners found them confusing, however, the companies chose to unify their pictograms. The association will also aim to have the new symbols adopted as worldwide standards.

The decision to standardise toilet pictography is the latest attempt to make Japan's toilets more user friendly.

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