Japan standardizes toilet buttons to accommodate foreign tourists

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According to a survey conducted in 2014, one-fourth of some 600 foreigners said they could not understand some of the symbols on the toilet buttons.

The Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, a consortium of companies producing plumbing products including Toto, Panasonic, and Toshiba, has agreed to unify the iconography used on the often baffling control panels for Japanese toilets.

Japan's toilet chiefs say they have come up with a plan to stop tourists getting their knickers in a twist over the country's mindbogglingly high-tech loos.

As you can see from the photo, the representatives from each company, including proper jobbies like Panasonic and Toshiba, shown here at a special event and press conference in Tokyo, are nearly peeing themselves with delight at the arrival of the new symbols which will appear flush to the side of toilets from this April.

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The standardized signs will start appearing on new toilets, as well as on separate units that fit onto existing toilets, from this April, enabling visitors to do what they have to do with a whole lot more confidence.

Japan's most state-of-the-art toilets offer everything from seat warming and bidet functions to motion sensors, variable jet strengths and powerful deodorisers.

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

Japan has been drawing record numbers of tourists in recent years and Tokyo is expecting millions of visitors when it hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic Games in 2020.

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