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Why Your Next Bathroom Upgrade Should Be a Japanese Toilet

A smart toilet with controls on the wall
Santiparp Wattanaporn/Shutterstock.com

You upgrade your phone every few years, install smart devices throughout your home, and are counting down the days until a true self-driving car hits the market. So why are you still using a toilet based on a 400-year-old design?

Lavatory technology has actually come a long way over the last few years, and you can now make your bathroom trips an incredibly pleasant experience. For a few hundred dollars you can say goodbye to ice-cold seats tormenting you on those chilly winter nights, crippling toilet paper expenses, and actually touching the toilet with your hands.

The technical term for this kind of lavatory is a “smart toilet” as it incorporates electronic features to increase the toilet’s functionality and the user’s experience. The toilets originated, and are most widely used, in Japan—hence the name “Japanese toilet” becoming the most common way to refer to one.

Some of the more expensive options come as full toilets. Lower-end and mid-range options may not be a full toilet, but a high-tech toilet seat instead—which we’ll be referring to as “seat-only models.” Both types have advantages and disadvantages beyond the price difference.

So let’s have a look at why you should give your bathroom the upgrade it deserves.

What Sets Japanese Toilets Apart

A smart toilet lit up in the dark

You could argue a toilet is a functional item that does its one job well. But why limit your bathroom experience? Phones worked perfectly fine as communication devices, but that didn’t stop us from cramming as many features as possible into them.

And that’s what a Japanese toilet is—the lavatory equivalent of a smartphone. A functional device with extra features you never knew you needed, but will appreciate once you experience them. There’s a chance you’ll never comfortably use a standard toilet again.

These features can include heated seats, built-in bidets, and audio designed to protect your modesty. Fancier toilets can even flush and clean themselves.

You Have a Number of Options

A Japanese toilet with several features

You can get everything you need to upgrade an existing toilet to an entry-level Japanese lavatory for as little as $259. Top-of-the-line options can cost $1,000 or more—while a mid-range toilet will set you back around $600. Both the top-end and mid-range lavatories tend to be full systems and may require professional installation, so that should factor into your budget.

High-end features include smart automatic flushing which estimates the amount of water required based on the time you’ve been sitting on it, auto-opening and closing lids, UV-light sterilization, and deodorization—along with the features you’ll find on cheaper models. Mid-range lavatories can come with massage settings, more temperature settings for the seat and bidet, and foot-activated flushing systems. Standard features you’re likely to see on the cheaper seat-only models, as well as the more expensive ones, are heated seats, a bidet, a drying system, a “sound system” for modesty, and air filters for deodorization.

Your options don’t end there. The two main styles of smart toilet are a full system which includes the bowl, cistern, and seat—or a seat-only option that is cheaper and easier to install but has fewer features.

It Can Be a Simple Upgrade

Controls attached to a toilet with various spray options.
Horth Rasur/Shutterstock.com

The more expensive Japanese toilets that include the bowl are more difficult to install than the low-end models that only include the seat. That said, plumbing a full Japanese toilet in is essentially the same as installing a normal toilet, you will need to connect a power source but that’s the only difference. You should consider having a full toilet professionally installed instead of attempting to install it yourself.

However, if you opted for a cheaper seat-only model, you’re in for an easier time. All you’ll need to do is attach the seat itself, then make sure that the seat has a water supply for the bidet functions and a power supply so it will work in the first place.

When making your purchase you should check your new seat is the right shape and size for your existing bowl. When your new seat arrives, simply bolt your new seat on as you would a standard lavatory seat. Once it’s attached you’ll need to connect water and power.

For your bidet functions to work, you’ll need a water source. Find the pipe that supplies water to your toiler’s cistern. The pipe may already have a junction in place. If so turn the valve to shut the water off, unscrew the cap from the unused part of the junction, connect the hose coming from the seat, turn the water on and you’re done. If your hose doesn’t have a junction, buy one, turn the water off, fit the junction, then attach the hoses for both the cistern and seat.

Power can be as simple as running the cable to one of the bathroom outlets and plugging it in. If your bathroom doesn’t have outlets, connecting the power supply depends on the layout of your home and what you want to do. If it isn’t a simple case of just plugging the seat in and electrical work is required, consider hiring a professional.

You may wonder why you should opt for the full toilet instead of a seat-only option. Full toilets allow for things like automatic flush controls and buttons you can hit with your feet. If neither of those things matter to you, then opt for a seat-only option to save yourself both time and money.

Three Japanese Toilets You Should Consider Buying

The Expensive Option

If you have the budget available and want to go all out on your lavatorial experience, then the WOODBRIDGE B0990S is what you’re looking for. This full lavatory system features everything you’d expect on a $2,500 latrine.

Those features include auto opening and closing, a heated seat, a smart flushing system, self-cleaning and deodorization features, and more. It even filters the water it will be “refreshing” you with.


A top-of-the-line toilet with all the features you would expect from a $1,000 lavatory.

The Mid-Range Option

A handy remote control will help you navigate through the range of features the Bio Bidet Bliss BB2000 offers. Those features include a heated seat, multiple wash types, and a massage setting.

This seat-only build comes in either elongated or round and should fit most lavatory bowls. Installation should be straightforward for people with access to a power source in their bathroom.

Bio Bidet Bliss BB2000

An easy to install mid-range seat with a good selection of features.

The Cheaper Option

The Lotus Smart Bidet ATS-500 offers all of the key hygiene features you need after doing your business. This option also includes some features you may expect on a higher-end model, like a self-cleaning function.

As with our mid-range choice, this is a seat-only model and can be an easy install under the correct circumstances.

Lotus Smart Bidet ATS-500

A seat-only option with all of the key hygiene features.

Dave McQuilling Dave McQuilling
Dave McQuilling has spent over 10 years writing about almost everything, but technology has always been one of his main interests. He has previously worked for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites, and television stations in both the US and Europe. Read Full Bio »