Thankfully it would appear that the Japanese style toilet is slowly being phased out. Although that doesn’t mean there aren’t a fair few of them left. Way too many for my liking that’s for sure.
I always remember when I first arrived in Japan, and feeling a, ahem, call of nature approaching, I went into the nearest toilet. But on opening the cubicle door I was confronted with one of these devices.
In a state of I-need-to-go-to-the-tiolet-but-really-don’t-want-to-use-this-contraption, I frantically opened the next cubicle door and was (for want of a better word) relieved to find a lavatory of the western persuasion. Seeing that reassuring bowl was a special moment indeed. Having never had a religious experience, I can only assume that it must be something along the same lines. Or perhaps I exaggerate. A little…
Since then I’m happy to say that my fear of the squatting toilet has diminished somewhat, but I still avoid them if it’s in any way possible. If for no other reason that for me personally they are simply not as comfortable. Although that said, squatting requires well-developed thighs, and each visit carries with it the danger (however slim) of soiling your pants in the process. This link (which I’ve used before) highlights this and other dangers, and at the same time takes you through the basic maneuvers.