A display of soaps, toothbrushes, and an essential oil bottle.

10 Japanese Bathroom Designs

Originally contributed by • last updated 4/28/2021

Karolina Grabowska

Have you ever wondered what bathrooms in other parts of the world look like? 

An adorable video that debuted back in 2015 by YouTube channel Life Where I'm From allows viewers to journey to Japan without leaving the comfort of their homes.

The four-minute video gives an inside look into the innovative designs, and accompanying gadgets, in Japanese bathrooms. And by the looks of it, we've been using the loo wrong this whole time.

From bathtub heating systems to separated toilet rooms complete with a tank sink, explore some of Japan's most advanced washroom designs that have yet to catch on in Western cultures. 


Three People Can Use the Bathroom At The Same Time

Life Where I'm From

In stark contrast to the American bathroom that houses all elements in one simple room, the Japanese washroom is commonly divided into three different areas for a separate toilet, bathtub, and sink.

Doors isolate the bathtub and toilet rooms which means one person can use the sink space, while another soaks in the tub, and the third answers nature's call. How brilliant!


Spray Wand Sink Faucet

Life Where I'm From

In the main, open sink area, there is usually a sizeable bathroom vanity.

The sink is more often than not furnished with a spray wand that extends out of the faucet. It is then attached to a wall mount that holds the wand in place.

This design is common in Japan for many purposes, including wash your hair comfortably and bathing a baby in the basin with ease.


Bathing Wet Room

Life Where I'm From

In Japan, it's a common practice to wash your body before soaking in a bathtub. This way, an entire family can reuse the same water.

The tub area, which functions as a wet room, typically comes with a seat that allows homeowners to sit comfortably. They can then wash their bodies with a spray wand and water from the tub gathered from a bucket.

While this routine may seem odd to some Westerners, it's quite standard in Japan since visiting public baths — known as an onsen — is popular among locals.

Bathing with other people follows the same procedure as described above: showering before soaking.


Bathtubs Come Equipped With A Control Panel That Keeps Water Warm

Life Where I'm From

A family resharing the same bathwater on a daily basis may have drawn to your mind vivid imagery of siblings fighting tooth and nail over who gets to be the first one to use up all the hot water.

But the reality is, there are typically no arguments at all.

This is because Japanese bathtubs are designed with a handy control panel that allows homeowners to adjust the water temperature.

So theoretically, even if water has been sitting in a bathtub all day long, the water will still be warm even if you decide to hop in late in the evening.


Emergency Button And Call Service In Wet Room

Life Where I'm From

The bathtub's nifty control panel isn't only useful for recycling water.

It's also proven handy during dire situations where medical assistance is needed. And surprisingly, that's not all.

The panel can also be operated as a communication device in which you can phone other members in the home as you lounge in the tub.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with asking your roommate to hand you a glass of sangria while you relax!


Control Bath Tub Water From The Kitchen

Life Where I'm From

Much like the panel in the wet room, there's another control switch installed in the kitchen.

This allows homeowners to adjust the temperature of bathwater remotely without having to stop what they're doing and venture to the wet room.

It also means that you can tell the tub to fill up while you're cooking dinner and know that the bath will be perfect when you're done cleaning up.


Recycle Water When Using The Washing Machine

Alice Gordenker

It is quite common in Japanese households to also reuse bathing water when laundry time rolls around.

Typically, the washing machine is located next to the sink in the main bathroom area.

The machine is equipped with a hose that extends into the separated bathing space and submerges in the tub. As the machine runs, water is sucked up and slowly drained.

Now, if you're suddenly alarmed about what you deem to be a serious no-no in the hygiene department, remember this — homeowners wash well before relaxing in the tub.

So the graywater (gently used water) is more than safe to reuse in other parts of a dwelling and the laundry detergent will kill any stray bacteria.


Wet Room Is Complete With A Fan

Life Where I'm From

This high-tech fan is more than just a bathroom exhaust that homes in Western culture are familiar with.

Instead, it's much like the bathtub — adjustable via a control panel that allows for a variety of settings.

In all its controllable glory, the fan is largely used to dry wet clothes after they've come out of the washer.

Clothing is simply hung above the tub on a rail, and the fan goes to work heating them dry. Electric clothes dryers are far less common in Japan.


Toilet Tank Sink

Life Where I'm From

As mentioned earlier, it is very typical of Japanese homes to have a toilet isolated from the rest of the bathroom.

Accordingly, many toilets feature a tank sink that allows you to wash up before leaving the tiny space.

Although freshwater from a supply line is used when hand-washing, that same water is then drained into the tank, awaiting the next flush.

It's among the many brilliant, sustainable Japanese bathroom designs helping to conserve water.


Separate Toilet Traps Odors

Life Where I'm From

Having a separate toilet is not only beneficial to the individual going to the lavatory but also proves useful for others in the house.

The separate toilet ensures any smells are confined to a single room. Important when doing so many other tasks in the bathroom.

So as someone soaks in the bathing area, they won't have to worry about the person next door on the loo.

The Japanese bathroom is certainly brilliant and very much a design Western Culture needs to adopt soon.