The Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association, a consortium of companies producing plumbing products including Toto, Panasonic, and Toshiba, has agreed to unify the iconography used on the often baffling control panels for Japanese toilets. The decision was made in response to foreign tourists who say they’re often unable to understand the controls, which operate features often not found on Western toilets such as bidets and warm air drying.
The toilet manufacturers plan to implement the eight new pictogram on models released from this year onward, with a view to the system becoming an international standard. The icons in the image above mean (from left to right) raise the lid, raise the seat, large flush, small flush, rear spray, bidet, dry, and stop.
Much of Japan is currently engaged in a rush to make itself more welcoming to tourists ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and icon design has often been at the forefront of debate. The government has recommended removing the Buddhist manji symbol from maps aimed at foreigners, for example, for fear of unintended associations with the Nazi swastika.