In Japan, public toilets put on a show

If you’ve ever had the chance to travel to Japan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of Toto’s famous multi-purpose toilets, which have been gracing Japanese homes and daily life for years. On the other hand, when it comes to public toilets – an essential amenity for the spontaneous needs of human nature – the Japanese population has been complaining for years about the capital’s aging, dark, dirty and disgusting infrastructure. But the authorities in the ultra-popular Shibuya district in the heart of the Japanese capital have finally taken matters seriously.

Thanks to the innovative and ground-breaking project “The Tokyo Toilet“, initiated in 2020 and finalized in March 2023 by the local authorities and supported by the Nippon Foundation, a network of seventeen extraordinarily welcoming, state-of-the-art public toilets that combine design, high standards of maintenance and accessibility (for all genders, ages and abilities) have finally been installed in this trendy district, offering public toilets like you’ve never seen them before.

Sixteen internationally renowned architects and designers from Japan and abroad – Fumihiko Maki, Junko Kobayashi, Kashiwa Sato, Kazoo Sato, Kengo Kuma, Marc Newson, Masamichi Katayama, Miles Pennington, Nao Tamura, NIGO®, Shigeru Ban, Sou Fujimoto, Tadao Ando, Takenosuke Sakakura, Tomohito Ushiro, Toyo Ito – were involved. Each space is an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind installation, adapting to each location and environment, confirming the Japanese symbol of perfection and their world-renowned hotel culture. 

These seventeen cabins even feature the famous Japanese actor, Koki Yakusho, who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2023 for his poetic role in Wim Wenders’ latest film, Perfect Days. So, let’s hope this superb network of “Tokyo Toilets” expands to satisfy the almost 14 million inhabitants of the sprawling capital and its 30 million visitors a year. On your next visit to the archipelago, don’t forget to pay a visit if nature calls.

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Text by Christine Cibert.

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