These are the diagrams that help users operate electronic toilets in Japan

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These are the diagrams that help users operate electronic toilets in Japan

Have you ever been confused about how to operate a robotic lavatory?

Japanese-designed pictograms have been accepted as the global standard for how to operate state-of-the-art electric lavatories – although the icons are still likely to cause some lost-in-translation moments.

The series of images were designed by the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association – which brings together the biggest domestic players in the sector, including Toto, Panasonic and Toshiba – in order to create a world-wide set of pictoral instructions for the frequently baffling control panels on Japanese toilets.

The images depict what appear to be whirlpools of varying strengths to demonstrate a flush with a small amount of water or a stronger flush, as well as a pair of buttocks and a jet of water representing bidet functions.

Other buttons will be labelled with images of toilets with arrows that indicate automatically raising the lid, while pressing yet another button will unleash a warm breeze to dry the user’s behind.

It is only fitting that the images come from the land of toilet innovation. Futuristic lavatories have been standard in Japanese homes and workplaces for decades but designers here now want to reach out to new markets abroad.

It is also hoped that common pictograms will help to reduce confusion among the increasing number of foreign tourists coming to Japan, particularly with an influx of arrivals expected for the Rugby World Cup next year and the Tokyo Olympic Games in the summer of 2020.

The set of images was put forward in January to the International Organisation for Standardisation, which is based in Geneva, and will from now on serve as the globally accepted pictoral shorthand, although other nations will be free to add written directions to further clarify the instructions.

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