Toilets from around the world

Here we have the most common toilet in the Western world, a beloved fixture in American lives. Most North American readers will be surprised however, to find out that this is NOT the most common toilet in the world - it actually comes in a distant second!

Common and Uncommon Western Toilets

A typical toilet, found throughout the Western world. This photo was included so that we could compare it with the next horror:

The “Fat A$$” Toilet

I suspect that this kind of toilet is pretty much an American phenomenon, as gigantic humans are pretty much a by-product of a culture of excess. Compare this bad-boy to the photo above - the size of the seat in comparison to the tank. This thing can handle the biggest of butts without cracking or breaking - it has 200% more sitting room than a standard round toilet seat, and it can support up to 2,000 pounds. (That’s 907 kilos for those readers using the metric system.)


Next, let’s move on to a common men’s room fixture - the urinal.
First we have a bank of common porcelain urinals, and a less commonly found multi-user steel urinal.

Some bars have interesting urinals…
This restroom is hilarious!

Portable Urinals

You may not be as familiar with portable urinals - here are both male and female varieties. These are most commonly used in hospitals, but I’m sure that you can think of a few times when one of these would have come in handy…

How about FEMALE urinals?? There have been a few “in the stall” designs over the years that have not really caught on, because they were either unsanitary or inconvienent (and isn’t the whole point of using a urinal convenience?)But not anymore! Now there are a wide range of devices that women can carry on their person and use to take a whiz with all the speed and convenience that nature gave to men! The reusable and washable Travelmate, for instance, can fit right through the fly of a woman’s jeans!
There are other similar models made by different companies - some are disposable cardboard funnels.

The Bidet

The function of a bidet is to provide a cleansing stream of water to the nether regions. While virtually unseen in the United States, these are common bathroom fixtures in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. (In Argentina and Uruguay, 90% of households have a bidet.)

Bidets are very popular in Japan, where they have designed models that come with complex controls. The stream of water might be warmed (100 degree f), provide a direct “bullseye” stream of water, secondary “feminine” streams, a vertically moving stream, or even pulsating, massaging jets. An under-the-seat hot air drier can make cleaning up a 10 or 15 minute existential experience!

A bidet control panel

Here is a video demonstrating how a bidet works. (You’ll need the free Macromedia flash plugin installed in your browser to watch this video.)

The venerable British WC

In Britan the toilet is known as a Water Closet, or “WC”. The water tank was positioned high above the bowl so that gravity would aid in the flush.

Here is an elaborate toilet from 1898

The French Squatter

Also found in Italy and Turkey, one puts one’s feet on the foot rests, faces the door, and squats. The floor is often wet - a bucket is used as a flushing mechanism. Is there toilet paper? Sometimes… in many parts of the world people just use their left hand and a bucket of water for cleaning up. They never eat with that hand.

A Turkish Squatter

Here is a similar restroom in Turkey, with the above mentioned water bucket.

The German Poo Shelf

This is a horrid toilet bowl design, found in older buildings in Germany. There is a dry flat shelf right underneath one’s posterior, upon which poop falls. It just sits there, for the entire performance, smelling up the joint. Several flushings are required to wash everything down the drain, and it leaves a skid mark as a present for the next person. Males who use these toilets to urinate tend to spray everywhere.

WHY? Why would anyone design something so evil? Perhaps it was for health or scientific reasons - so that people could inspect what came out of them & identify any problems. Or, maybe it was to conserve water - no bowl to fill, less water wasted? Or, maybe nobody in Germany knew how to build a toilet except sick, sick, twisted Nazi Fecalpheliacs. Or perhaps it’s a joke they play on the tourists. A national joke. That’s gotta be it!

note - alert reader, Jens R., sent the following commentary on the German toilets:
“There are two basic designs in Germany. The first is called the “Tiefspueler”. An image of a Tiefspueler toilet bowl is here: second is the Flachspueler — what you called a poo shelf. The Tiefspueler has the problem that because of the greater distance between the user’s behind and the water level (of the water inside the bowl), there is the significant risk of water splashing up as the excrement falls into the bowl — wetting the occupant’s posterior, which, I assure you, is *gross*.The Flachspueler solves this problem by having what you called a “shelf”, where the poo comes to rest until it is flushed. There is a small and shallow puddle of water on the “shelf” (if there isn’t one then the toilet is either defective or a misdesigned copycat Flachspueler not made in Germany and made by manufacturers who don’t understand the entire concept of the thing). The puddle is there to prevent the poo from sticking to the shelf and from leaving the skid marks you mentioned. The distance between the water level of the puddle and the user’s bottom is much less than with the Tiefspueler and there also is much less water that the poo drops into. This avoids water splashing up and wetting the user’s bum, but at the cost of potentially stinking up the place. That’s why a lot of Germans have Klosteine (look it up) in their loo, or ventilators or both.
The Flachspueler is also more suitable for hospitals where the stool may need to be visually inspected (no kidding, I’m a qualified [male] nurse) or where stool samples may need to be taken. But both German designs allow workarounds to their respective shortcomings:
Tiefspueler users can put a bit of toilet paper into the bowl before sitting down, so the water won’t splash as much when the stool drops into it, and Flachspueler users may flush several times, to remove poop as soon as it is deposited, so stinking up the place can be avoided.”Thanks Jens!!

The Asian Toilet

Used throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, “The Squatter” is by far the most common toilet in the world. It is used by squatting over it in a deep knee bend, facing the hood as closely as possible, balancing carefully, pants below knees.

Japan has an interesting mix of squatters, western toilets, and high tech “extreme” toilets. Here is a picture of a nice western style toilet in Japan that has wooden arm rests.

The Japanese Ultra-Modern Toilet

Like something from Star Wars, these toilets have more gadgets in them then you can imagine:

Bidet fuctions: a direct “bullseye” stream of water - also a secondary, “feminine” stream, a warm (100 degree f) stream of water, a vertical moving stream, massaging jets of water, and a blow dryer.

They also have anti slam lids & seats - Tip the lid and it closes smoothly and gradually. Even if you knock it accidentally, it doesn’t slam shut.

Some have heated seats, and some send mild electrical shocks through the user’s bottom to determine their percentage of body fat.

They can also include a health analysis of waste products (looking for blood in the stool or sugar in the urine) and menstrual cycle monitoring.

Most models include music or fake flush sounds at the press of a button, to cover up embarrassing noises, and some have an automatic deodorant mechanism: a deodorizer turns on when you sit on the seat, removing unwanted odors, and remains on for 1 minute after use.

Some toilets glow in the dark or are lighted, and whir up their lids after an infrared sensor detects a human being. When in use, the toilet plays any of six soundtracks, including chirping birds, rushing water, tinkling wind chimes, or the strumming of a traditional Japanese harp.

Notice the control panel to the side of this toilet, as well as the sink built into the lid of the water tank.

Electric Handicapped Accessible Toilet

Here’s another hi-tech toilet with a built in elevator that will lift and lower you from the sitting position. The handicapped and elderly benefit from this sort of a gadget.

Roman Public Toilets

These public toilets were found in the ancient Roman city of Ostia - probably from around the year 100 A.D.

People sat next to each other on seats that had holes in the top (for obvious reasons) and in the front (for the insertion of a sponge on a stick). A channel with running water was in front of their feet.

It’s interesting that people back then would share things like bathing and toilets publicly. Most people in any modern culture expect privacy for such actions. People were so much more casual back then…


Most Americans are familiar with this kind of Porta-Potty - they are commonly used at construction sites, outdoor concerts, and fairs.

Here’s another kind of portable toilet that is made out of cardboard, the Outback Pack. It uses a plastic bag to catch waste, has a toilet paper dispenser attached to the side, and can support up to 275 lbs.

Here we have a fairly civilized camping toilet… when I was little we didn’t have anything this nice when we went camping. We just took a shovel and dug a hole behind a bush!

And finally we will end this with a quick look at a great invention, Uncle Booger’s Bumper Dumper®! Just hook it up to a truck’s trailer hitch, and you’re good to go! You’re supposed to use a plastic bag with this, but heck… no bag, no privacy, who cares? At least you have a toilet seat - just pull over and do your business on the road, right? Yeee-haw!