Japan’s high-tech toilets are luxurious for some and confounding for others. Tourists facing a language barrier are forced to decipher cryptic symbols just to use one, and icons that mean one thing on some models might mean something entirely different on another. In an effort to make the products more user-friendly, Japan’s Sanitary Equipment Industry Association has announced standardized symbols for all its toilets, Ars Technica UK reports.

The pictographs, revealed on January 17, represent eight common functions: large flush, small flush, lift lid, lift seat, stop, rear wash, front wash, and dry. According to the BBC, the organization—which includes the companies Toshiba, Panasonic, and Toto—hopes to foster "a toilet environment that anyone can use with peace of mind." The new standard will be implemented in April.


Example of a Japanese toilet control panel. Image credit: Maya-AnaïsYataghène via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A consistent toilet language across Japan is good news for foreigners, but the eight basic symbols are just a start. Deodorizers, white noise features, and seat warmers are a few of the more unconventional features tourists will encounter when they flood the nation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. As of last year, the Japan National Tourism Organization’s target for the event was 40 million visitors.

[h/t Ars Technica UK]