Japanese Bathroom Design: Background, Inspiration & Ideas

If you're thinking about updating your bathroom space to something luxurious, consider going with the Japanese bathroom design trend. Here's some background, inspiration, and more:

Japanese Bathroom Design: Background, Inspiration & Ideas - Kohler Veil Freestanding Bath Japanese Bathroom Design: Background, Inspiration & Ideas - Kohler Veil Freestanding Bath
The Hausera Editorial Team

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. You wash separately from where you bathe; you also use the toilet and dress in separate spaces. In this case, you would want to shower before you enter the soaking tub, and the sinks and mirrors are often long and able to accommodate many people at once. In addition, toilets come with special features for washing and increased sanitation. These are all essential elements to creating an authentic Japanese bathroom design.

However, a lot of Western homes do not have space for such a layout. That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it. You can either build out a bathroom with different spaces or simply use Japanese-inspired elements to your bathroom as it is.

One such way you can incorporate the design is with an upgraded toilet. 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


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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 functionless 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 tub, 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 water temperature.

Accents

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.

Paint

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.

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.


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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. 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 could consider making a Japanese-inspired space that’s still more Western in its layout but nonetheless incorporates elements that give it a distinctly Eastern feel.


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Decor

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 in the shower to give that separated feel.

Tranquil Tub Time

If you don’t have 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.


If you want your bathroom space to be luxurious and relaxing, search for the perfect soaking tub and outline the space to fit the design style of a Japanese bathroom. If you want your bathroom to be pretty and serene, find bamboo and wood features and scatter plants and flowers around the room. If you're one for minimalism with a touch of luxury, a Japanese-inspired bathroom design just might be a good option for you.