Japanese Bathroom Design: Background, Inspiration & Ideas

Friends of Hausera - 4/24/19 12:25 PM

Japanese design is a contemporary look that incorporates natural elements and an overall clean and minimalistic appearance. Japanese bathroom design is interesting in that each of the bathroom utilities is separated into different spaces. One would wash separately from where they would bathe; they also use the toilet and dress in separate spaces.

That’s not the only interesting aspect of Japanese toilets, either. Japanese toilets are often more developed and detailed than those of other countries, again emphasizing the importance of cleanliness. Features on Japanese toilets will often include bidets for washing, seat warming, and options for deodorization. Some statistics suggest that these types of advanced toilets are found in upwards of 81% of Japanese homes, making them less a luxury and more a common part of life there. If you’re trying to create an authentic Japanese design, take this into consideration.

Other than that, if you’re looking to create a Japanese bathroom design in your home, there are a few other elements you will need to incorporate. Japanese design is both classic and contemporary, offering all of the trappings of a traditional bathroom space but also the clean lines and natural elements that make it feel current.

What You’ll Need For A Japanese Bathroom Design

Soaking Tub

The Japanese use soaking tubs a bit differently than other cultures use bathtubs. Whereas bathtubs are known to many of us as a place to wash and rinse — in place of a shower — for the Japanese, tubs are only for soaking the body in hot water. Instead, you have a separate area in which you wash your body and another area to use the toilet entirely. This is why Japanese soaking tubs are styled so differently than a typical whirlpool. They are often deeper, made of wood, and function less for bathing and more for relaxation.

Point of Use Water Heater

Given that the soaking tub is such a big part of the experience of a Japanese bathroom, you’ll need special hardware to ensure its optimal use. In this case, you’ll want a point of use water heater, which is essentially a heater that is installed right next to the appliance that uses it, as opposed to a central water heater, which is used throughout the entire home. This ensures that the water can always be hot (this is crucial to the soaking experience) and that other appliances in the home won’t compromise that.


The lighting in a Japanese bathroom is simple but functional. The fixtures themselves should never be adorned in anything too complicated, and they should be placed specifically where they’d be most useful. For example, you can consider an overhead light above the soaking tub, and then some lights around the vanity for makeup application and other hygienic routines.  


The colors of a Japanese bathroom are going to be extremely minimal and as natural as possible. In fact, you should even use natural materials — like wood or stone — as often as you can. Remember that though it is simplistic, the design shouldn’t be too stark. Consider greys and ambers above whites or blacks, and remember to accessorize with other Earth tones.


A Japanese bathroom can be complemented by plants, flowers, stones, or other water fixtures. Consider even using bamboo-based materials for some of your necessary accessories, like the toilet paper holder.

Separate toilet room

To create an authentic Japanese bathroom, you must create an entirely separate room for the toilet. (This is often seen in some European design as well.) However, as this is not a common layout for Western bathrooms, you might need to do a bit more construction than you initially anticipated. This is because the Japanese treat the soaking tub as a place you enter only after you are already clean — hence the space for washing beforehand. In the same vein, you wouldn’t want to use the toilet anywhere near that, as it would be seen as unsanitary.

Using Unique Characteristics For A Remodel

If you aren’t completely changing the layout of your space but are trying to create a Japanese-inspired bathroom redesign, there are a few key elements you’ll want to be sure to include.

Multi-functional facilities

Remember that multiple people should be able to use the bathroom facilities at a time. This means that you might want to consider one long mirror as opposed to multiple vanities, or at least try to separate some parts of the bathroom from others.

Spray wand in the sink

When you’re choosing your sink and faucet, remember that Japanese design often incorporates a spray wand in the sink, which is a feature that should already come with some faucets.

A place to sit while you wash

The washing area (or showering area) separate from the soaking tub is also unique in that it often features a place to sit while you wash yourself. This would also mean that you probably want to invest in not only a bench or seat that connects to the wall, but also a showerhead nozzle that can detach and be moved around for better function and accessibility.

How To Create A Western But Japanese-Inspired Space

If it is simply not an option for you to completely change your space to accommodate all of the features that would be involved in an authentic Japanese bathroom, you might also want to consider making a Japanese-inspired space that’s still more Western in its layout but nonetheless incorporates elements that give it that distinctly Eastern feel. Here are some ways you can go about doing that.


If you can’t change the vanity or update your shower space to include a flat floor and seat, consider creating the look with your decorations. Use wood and Earth tones for your color schemes and materials, and add bamboo, greens, and other staples of Japanese design. You can also consider opting for a spray wand in the sink or a detachable shower head to give that separated feel.

Tranquil tub time

If you don’t have the space or budget for a complete soaking tub, you can still make your bathtub a tranquil, relaxing experience. Opt for a new tub that has jets in it for a spa-like feel, or add recessed lighting with dimmers to give you a versatile look. Decorate with candles and other items that will make it feel calm and inspiring.

Hygiene essentials

Given that a lot of Japanese design revolves around their commitment to hygiene, incorporate that in your own bathroom by considering touchless faucets or soap dispensers, an easy-to-clean countertop space, or even a hidden cabinet for all of your most important toiletries.

Our Favorite Japanese Bathroom Design Ideas

Barclay COTDRN31-AC-AC Picasso Double Roll Top Tub

Barclay COTDRN31-AC-AC Picasso Double Roll Top Tub

This tub is not a traditional Japanese soaking tub, but instead offers an updated, Westernized style inspired by it. With detailed claw feet and a hammered, copper basin, this is certainly an accent item that would really tie your space together, especially if creating separate wash and toilet rooms isn’t an option.

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Premier Copper Products BTDR60DB Universal 60" Hammered Copper Double Slipper Bathtub with Rings

Premier Copper Products BTDR60DB Universal 60" Hammered Copper Double Slipper Bathtub with Rings

Similarly, this tub is Japanese-inspired but has an almost medieval appearance to it. With large rings along the side (perhaps helpful for steadying oneself upon entering or leaving the tub, or for holding a small towel if necessary), a detailed rim and hammered, copper basin, this tub is another standout piece.

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Barclay COTDSN70B-SAP Universal Freestanding Tub

Barclay COTDSN70B-SAP Universal Freestanding Tub

If the detailed tubs aren’t for you but you still want something other than a traditional wooden soaking tub, this standalone option might work. It’s still copper but is more sleekly designed and mimics the shape of a traditional clawfoot tub.

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Topics: Bathroom

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