Toilet meal (Japanese: 便所飯, benjo-meshi) is a Japanese slang term and social phenomenon referring to the act of an individual eating a meal in a toilet room.[1] In modern Japan, some people eat alone in a bathroom for various reasons;[2] the most common reason is that they do not wish to be seen eating alone. Other reasons include saving money from eating out,[3] to hide from co-workers in a busy workplace,[4] or simply because they find it more comfortable.[3]

Meal set out to be eaten on a toilet

Since toilet meals are often solitary and clandestine, others are unlikely to be aware of its occurrence. For this reason, "toilet meals" were initially regarded as an urban legend,[5] but subsequent investigations have confirmed the phenomenon as relatively widespread. The term "toilet meal" has even been referenced in various popular media, most notably in various Japanese television shows.[6][7]

Typical practiceEdit

Sitting position
Crouching position
Standing position

Since private lavatory rooms are not designed for eating, eating postures vary from person to person. Typically people sit on the lid of a Western-style toilet-- this is the most natural posture for eating in a lavatory and is shown in most fictional portrayals.[8][better source needed] Other ways involve crouching in front of the toilet or standing in front of a Japanese-style squat toilet, which is at floor level.[9] Alternatively, the person may crouch or squat in front of the toilet. In the case of a Japanese-style toilet, the food is rested on the knees; the lid of a Western-style toilet can be used as a table. 100 Most Popular Words in Japan says, "If you need to spread out your meal, lower the lid of the toilet bowl to make it look like a table. The disadvantage of this posture, however, is that it is very tiring, and the sight of the toilet seat and water tank can be distracting".[9] This posture occurs in some fictional portrayals; for example, in episode 33 of the manga Zekkai Gakkyu, the main character Ohno eats squatting in a toilet room with a Japanese-style toilet.[10]


In a 2013 survey, about 12% of respondents said they had had a toilet meal.[11]

Social research has been conducted to find out how many people have eaten a meal on a toilet. Although figures vary depending on the survey, one survey conducted in 2013 found that 12.08% of respondents said they had eaten on the toilet, with a higher percentage of younger people and women.[11]

  • In 2009, Naoki Ogi, a professor at Hosei University, surveyed 487 students and received 400 responses. 0.3% of the respondents answered that they ate toilet meals "often" and 2.0% of the respondents answered they ate "a little".[12]
  • In a survey of 1,000 people conducted by Mynavi News in 2012, 7.1% said they had eaten meals in the toilet.[13]
  • In a survey conducted by home renovation company SunRefreHoldings in 2013, out of 2,459 valid responses, 12% had eaten in a public restroom at home, school, or work. Of these same responses, 19% said they had eaten toilet meals in their 20s, 13% in their 30s, and 11% in their teens. Notably, 80% of women in their twenties stated they had eaten a "toilet meal", many of them in public restrooms.[11][2]
  • In a 2015 nationwide survey of 1,500 Japanese men and women in their 20s to their 60s conducted by the news site Sirabee, 5.5% said they had eaten a toilet meal.[14]
  • In a 2017 survey of 1,342 men and women in their 20s to 60s, also conducted by Sirabee, 10.2% said they had eaten in the toilet. 11.9% of men and 8.5% of women surveyed said they had eaten in the toilet. Of the reasons given were wanting to save money on lunch, having trouble refusing invitations, and being "cool and comfortable".[3]


In Japan, there are few laws regarding toilet meals, since they would be difficult to enforce. Some ways that it could pose legal enforcement would be if the occupant stays in the bathroom for a long time and prevents others from using it or leaving garbage and causing sanitary issues, however these have often been attributed to stomach issues, such as diarrhea.[15]


Eating in a toilet is not desirable from a hygiene standpoint. According to the Training Manual for School Meal Preparation Personnel published by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, "Since various pathogenic microorganisms exist in stool and are excreted with stool during defecation, toilets are places with a high risk of being contaminated by pathogens that cause food poisoning. During defecation, there is a high possibility of the toilet bowl being contaminated by norovirus and other pathogens, and of toilet doorknobs, etc. being contaminated through the hands and fingers".[16] The report devotes pages to lavatories as a place where food handlers need to take special care.

Fear of being seen as lonelyEdit

A toilet meal is often seen as embarrassing or a sign of social ineptitude. In Japanese social life, attractiveness is often measured by the number of friends a person has, and those who are seen as friendless are often evaluated negatively on that basis alone. Therefore, people who fear being perceived as friendless and unattractive secretly eat in the toilet. Daisuke Tsuji, an associate professor of sociology at Osaka University, wrote in Asahi Shimbun: "Those who fail to make friends within a limited relationship must continue to endure not only loneliness but also the gaze of being branded as a strange person with no friends. They are marginalized in a double sense. The only place left to escape the gaze is the private room in the bathroom".[17][18] Tsuji believes that the solution to the problem is to "create an environment in which children and young people can form diverse relationships outside of their peer group, including a review of the class system", and that the problem of the toilet meal can be solved by supplementing multi-layered human relationships.[19]

University responseEdit

There is a movement at universities to address the issue of students eating toilet meals from the perspective of interpersonal communication. When the issue was first reported, there was little awareness that it was occurring. In response to inquiries by Asahi Shimbun in 209, the University of Tokyo's public relations group said, "It may be that we just haven't noticed it, but we have never heard of it", and Meijo University's general policy department responded, "We don't recognize it, so we don't give any guidance".[5]

  • In 2013, during an overnight orientation camp for new students, Shimane University's Faculty of Education circulated a questionnaire and found that 56.6% of the students were aware of the phrase "toilet meal". The department tried to reduce new students' problems by holding training sessions to build relationships with upperclassmen.[20]
  • In a 2016 Kobe Gakuin University report on a survey of its own campus on "places to stay", 1.7% of students cited the restroom as a place to stay, citing Ninomiya's view that "we need to worry about situations such as 'toilet meal' by college students who eat lunch in the restroom" and, "We cannot deny the possibility that there are students at our university who consider the toilet to be their 'place of residence because they avoid interacting with others or are unable to relate well with others".[21]
  • According to a counsellor at the Health Center of Hokkaido University, "There are actually students who eat their meals alone in the private rooms of the toilets", and those students who cannot eat alone because they are worried about being seen, they have an activity called "lunch meeting" where they eat their meals with the staff and talk about various topics.[22]
  • The student counselling office of Tokyo Fuji University has reported that students have told them they eat in the toilet and that they advise students to "come to the student counselling office as soon as possible if you are troubled by such a thing".[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "デジタル大辞泉「便所飯」の解説". 小学館. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  2. ^ a b "一人で食事する寂しい姿を見られたくない 「便所飯」経験している20代の80%は女性だった". J-cast. ジェイキャスト. 2013. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  3. ^ a b c "「便所飯率」調査!食事と排泄を同じ場所で行なう人たちの奇妙な行動". めるも. めるも. 2017. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  4. ^ "便所飯、芸能界にも経験者は意外に多い? 西川史子、アンジャ児嶋、テレビ局AD…". ビジネスジャーナル. 株式会社サイゾー. 2013. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  5. ^ a b "1人で食べる姿見られたくない 若者の「便所飯」あるのか?". J-CASTニュース. ジェイ・キャスト. 2009. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  6. ^ "ストーリー 35歳の高校生". 日本テレビ. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  7. ^ "がんばれ便所飯くん 試し読み". FANZA. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  8. ^ a b 婁吉瓊 (2012年). 理解不能?日本流行語100選. 明窗出版社. ISBN 9789888134977.
  9. ^ まんが王国 絶叫学級(9) 試し読み. まんが王国. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  10. ^ a b c "あなたのトイレライフ教えて!" (PDF). サンリフレホールディングス. 2013. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  11. ^ "「一人で食堂入りにくい」6割 法大教授調べ 「便所飯」経験も2%". 朝日新聞朝刊 13版. 朝日新聞社. 2009-09-14. p. 22面. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  12. ^ "便所飯、やったことありますか?". ライブドアニュース. マイナビニュース. 2012. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  13. ^ "「便所飯」をしたことがある人は5.4%と判明!世代別の1位は20代。その理由とは?". しらべぇ. しらべぇ. 2015. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  14. ^ "「便所飯」で大学のトイレを占拠する学生がいたら・・・強制的にやめさせられるか?". 弁護士ドットコム. 弁護士ドットコム株式会社. 2021. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  15. ^ "第3章 6 調理従事者専用トイレの整備" (PDF). 文部科学省. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  16. ^ 辻大介 (January 2009). "友だちがいないと見られることの不安". 月刊少年育成. 大阪少年補導協会. 54 (1): 26–31. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  17. ^ 辻大介 (2009-07-13). "「友だちがいないと見られることの不安」". 思考錯誤(辻大介個人ブログ). Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  18. ^ "一年前に書いたこと". 辻大介. 2020. Retrieved 2022-03-05.
  19. ^ 村上幸人, 藤田耕一, 寺井由美 (2014). "宿泊合宿による「1000時間体験学修」についての新入生セミナーの実際とその成果 : ピア・サポート制度の活用". 島根大学教育臨床総合研究. 島根大学教育学部附属教育臨床総合研究センター. 13: 17–31. ISSN 1347-5088.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ 糟谷佐紀 (2018-11-21). "神戸学院大学有瀬キャンパスの「居場所」に関する調査報告" (PDF). 教育開発ジャーナル. 神戸学院大学 (9): 39–54.
  21. ^ 飯田昭人, 野口直美, 斉藤美香, 丸岡里香, 川崎直樹 (2014). "北翔大学ポルト市民講座「青年期の自殺予防を考える」". 北翔大学北方圏学術情報センター年報. 北翔大学. 6: 55–65. ISSN 2185-3096.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ "学生相談室だより NO.28" (PDF). 東京富士大学. 東京富士大学. 2012. Retrieved 2022-03-05.

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