Bidets and jackhammers

If you don’t want to get ‘down and dirty’, then please stop here, because it’s going to get intimate…

Hands up any of you that have used a bidet?

I’m guessing it’s not many!

I’d never used one either before travelling to Japan and was a little apprehensive about the whole experience.

35 years of ingrained (perhaps not the best descriptive word in this context…) use of toilet paper tends to make a skeptical hippo of one’s self.

And just how do these crazy Japanese think they can build a water jet that’s going to both hit the right spot, do what it’s supposed to do, and not end up making a mess at the same time??

I mean sure, maybe if I had my own personal ‘butler o’ bidet’ who could take my butt measurements, feed them into a super computer and custom build a porcelain throne sufficient for my ample derrier, they might get it right. But honestly (and as it IS Halloween), comparing my arse to a local one is like comparing a pumpkin to a peach!! You’re just asking for trouble!

Well here’s a step by step guide to the issues that you will face when attempting to use a Japanese bidet for the first time. (J-bidet has a nice ring…I think I might use that)

Sitting Down

Surely there’s nothing special about sitting down I hear you ask? Wrong!!

When you open your J-bidet and take a seat, for the next 5 seconds or so it plays the soothing sounds of running water. Like your very own private waterfall, cascading down the porcelain slopes…

Why?? I can only guess that either:

  1. Rigorous scientific study has shown that humans fart within 5 seconds of getting settled; and who in their right mind would want anyone else in the hotel room or public toilets to think you’re trying to “tame the barking walrus”??; or
  2. Further rigorous scientific study has shown that there is a certain inability to ‘release’ unless subjected to the coaxing, dulcet tones of a burbling waterway…

Either way, you get some pretty cool sounds to listen to!

Doing your business

Move on folks…nothing to see here!


And so begins the excitement!

Please consider your typical bidet control unit (except for the English and the fact that this one can’t program your VCR). Some will be A LOT more complicated!

Simple bidet controller

Unlike a boring old western toilet, in Japan you have options!!

In order of likely usage you have:


Very important button!! It can be pressed at any time to bring the party to a standstill.

Water Pressure

Very important buttons these ones, as you really don’t want the water spray set to maximum pressure (your first time anyway!). As you would expect, the plus and minus either increase or decrease the water pressure respectively. I recommend starting on the far left until you know what works best for you!


This is the one you’ll want to be using most of the time. It provides a wide-ish spray of warm water onto your bum and does all the cleaning for you. I have to be honest though, my concerns about a one-size-fits-all bidet were well justified. Just like goldilocks, every one I used was a little bit different and was generally not quite right; some were a little bit too high, some to the left, some to the right…To get an effective clean you end up performing a rather bizarre little dance. You know how a dog does that funny scooting thing along the grass? Well do that from left to right and cross it with a slow motion hoochie-mama booty-shake and you’re getting pretty close! (please don’t put my face to it though, it’ll give you nightmares!)


This one’s for the ladies! Of course I had to try it anyway. Not much different to ‘Spray’ except that it moves the angle of the water forward. I now call it, ‘The Ball Tickler’.

Flushing sound

See above. For when you can’t quite tame that barking walrus within 5 seconds.

The actual flush

All toilets will have a mechanical flush lever on them (sometimes they’re in bizarre places though, so keep looking!). The photo above doesn’t actually have one, but some of the bidets also have  a one or two buttons for flushing.; one for full flush, and one for half flush. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Just remember that if your bidet doesn’t have an air dryer (none of the ones we came across did, but they do exist) you’ll probably need to use a couple of square of toilet paper to dry off prior to flushing. Pretty obvious really.

And that’s it (almost!).

Through personal experience I can confirm that bidets do work and they’re not all that scary! In fact, I would go so far as to say that I would seriously think about getting one installed if we ever built a house again.

A word of caution though!! There are a number of rookie errors that can easily be made on a bidet, some with potentially disastrous consequences.

The definition of ‘Spray’

Some bidets will have two blue buttons, one like the one above, and one with a narrower stream of water. Trust me, DO NOT press the one with the narrow stream of water. It may say ‘Spray’, but it is NOT a spray. It should have been labelled, “Jet spray that will viciously attempt to pierce your sphincter with the finesse and subtlety of a jack hammer”. How anyone can possibly want a bidet with this setting on it, I have no idea. Perhaps they breed them tough in Japan? Maybe the magic combination of fish and rice that we ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner eventually imbues your ring with vice-like strength and the toughness of well worn shoe leather?? I really don’t know…but I’m pretty sure that relentless marauder perforated something vital…

Seating position

Now I’m not one of them, but I’ve heard rumours that there’s a certain type of person that doesn’t sit down on a loo. Hygiene concerns? Childhood phobia of spiders under the toilet seat? Buggered if I know why, but let me just say that bidets are not for you! The angle and width of spray is pretty well calibrated to strike accurately on the average arse. Alter those parameters by raising yourself 10cm in the air and you’re bound to get wet. The ensuing surprise will inevitably result in you forgetting to press the ‘Stop’ button, looking down to see what the hell is going on down there, and copping an eyeful of warm toilet water. Not a clever move and likely to result in a healthy case of pinkeye.

As an aside, rumours abound that there is a particular style of bidet requiring you to sit facing in the opposite direction to normal, ie ‘reverse gangnam kanga-style’. I didn’t see one, but look forward to tracking one down on our next visit to Japan!