After a day of travelling, you probably want to take a nice warm shower or even to get into a hot bath just to relive the stress and tiredness from all the sightseeing. Yet once you stepped inside the bathroom, you realize, the water is freezing cold?!
First, find the control panel
This is a pattern that many foreign tourists have experienced during their trip in Japan, especially for those who are staying in an apartment. Unlike countries that have built-in hot water tanks in most of the buildings, Japan highly relies on a water heater for the majority of households. Once you step into a house in Japan, you will most often see a panel with multiple buttons on it.
Then, find the Kanji
For some households, you will find two control panels, one around the living room area and one inside of the bathroom. Let’s first go through the one at the living room. As you can see in the picture above, the panel consist of:
運転 (Unten): On/Off button. This is the button you use to get hot water!
自動 (Jido): Auto mode, turn this on and it will keep your bath temperature to the preset level.
おいだき (Oidaki): Reheat, as you might know already, Japanese bathe every day and it costs quite a lot if you use 20 to 30L of water every single day. This function allows you to reheat water from the previous day.
In the middle, you can find 給湯 (Kyutou) with a higher and lower direction slider. This is to adjust the temperature of hot water.
The advance function. The timer for your hot water
Finally, there is ふろ予約 (Furo-yoyaku), this allows you to set a time which allows the bathtub to fill itself automatically with a pre-set water temperature. A common usage of this function is to have it run at around 8pm every day, so people could get into the bath after supper without waiting.
To set this timer, simply press it once, set your prefered time with the two directional buttons and finally press it one more time to confirm.
Water will come out from this tap once you set to fill your bathtub.
The fine adjustments for the best bath
So, you have set your timer and you are all ready to dive into a hot and relaxing bath. Why do you still need the panel inside the bath?
Well, this is to give you ultimate control for the best bath/ shower experience.
So, let’s take a look at how different this panel is compared to the one in the living room. On the right side, you still have the 3 buttons for on/off, auto mode and reheat. Next to it you can find たし湯 (Tashiyu) for adding hot water & たし水 (Tashisui) for adding cold water.
You can use たし湯 (Tashiyu) when the water level is too low for you. On the other side, you can use たし水 (Tashisui) if the bath is too hot.
In the middle, you will see two sets of directional buttons for you to adjust the temperature. ふろ (Furo) for bathtub and 給湯 (Kyutou) for your shower head and tap.
On the left, there is 呼び出し(Yobidashi) which is a buzzer button that links directly to the control panel at the living room. People use it for different purposes, but it’s main role is for anyone who doesn’t feel well to call for help.
Last, you will find the 優先 (Yusen) button which is the priority button that can prioritize your hot water use from other places such as the kitchen.
Hopefully this guide has helped you not only to figure out how to get hot water for a shower, but also to give you an idea how advanced bathing in a Japanese household can be!
Don’t remember all the words use for the panel? Don’t worry, you can bookmark this page for future reference!