Viral: Japanese public bathroom features sign, only in Indonesian, prohibiting washing of feet in sink

A public restroom in Japan featuring signs, in Indonesian, that say, “No washing your feet here.” Photo: Twitter/@imanlagi
A public restroom in Japan featuring signs, in Indonesian, that say, “No washing your feet here.” Photo: Twitter/@imanlagi

It seems there will never be a shortage of viral stories about Indonesians and faux pas in Japan. The latest of such stories relates to restroom hygiene, which we know the Japanese are particularly fussy about (in a good way).

Recently, Twitter user Iman Sjafei (@imanlagi) posted a photo from his travels to Japan. The photo, which was taken at a public restroom, showed three identical signs placed near the sinks that read, “No washing your feet here.” 

The sign, Iman said, was only written in Indonesian.

At a tourist hotspot in Japan, there’s a restroom with these signs. There are no other versions in other languages.

After the photo went viral, Iman said in an interview with Kompas that he took the photo on Feb. 8 in Iyashi no Sato, a famous ancient village and tourist draw in Yamanashi Prefecture.  

Iman said that he was taken aback by the signs and sought an explanation from an official at the tourist attraction.

“I asked about it then. They said that many had used the sinks for wudu (Islamic ablution),” he said.

Muslims are required to perform the wudu before prayer. The ritual involves washing numerous body parts with clean water and is concluded with the rinsing of one’s feet.

“They made rules against it [washing feet in the sink], meaning that it had made people there uncomfortable,” Iman said.

The issue of Muslims washing their feet in the sink for wudu is one that has been thoroughly discussed all around the world, often becoming a topic of contention in countries where Muslims are a religious minority. In Muslim-majority Indonesia, the arguably unhygienic and dangerous practice is less prevalent as most public areas provide specialized wudu taps for the cleansing ritual. 

At any rate, it is always important to respect other people’s customs when traveling abroad, lest the reputation of Indonesian tourists get sullied further with more viral faux pas stories.


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