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These amazing Japanese toilets will leave you flushed with excitement, Lifestyle News

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Japan is elevating its humble public amenities into works of architectural, technological and aesthetic marvel, turning them into landmarks and encouraging “toilet tourism”.

The Japanese home furnishing company has a reputation for designing some of the most hygienic bathroom fixtures in the world. Bidets with built-in “washlets” are standard in most modern homes, along with heated toilet seats that hide any embarrassing features. Noise sound option, and eco-flush option.

However, public toilets in Japan don’t always meet these high standards.

Dark, dirty and smelly, some throwbacks to the 1960s, and too many still uncomfortably squat-in-the-hole designs. But that is changing.

The concept of universal design and the need to make public bathrooms truly accessible and accessible to people with disabilities has begun to drive design considerations.

There’s also a sense that Japan’s millions of foreign tourists looking to return to its shores will appreciate more welcoming toilets as Covid-19 restrictions lift.

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The oldest surviving toilets in Japan are those at Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto, which were used by monks during the early Muromachi period from 1336 to 1573.

An official with the city’s Cultural Heritage Conservation Society made headlines in October when he accidentally rammed his car into the wooden structure that was trapped in the toilet.

Buildings registered as important cultural properties by the government are being restored.

The row of holes in the ground is a far cry from the state-of-the-art facilities that have sprung up in Tokyo’s Shibuya district over the past two years.

The Tokyo Toilet Project brings together 17 internationally renowned architects to rethink public amenities and leave their mark on a new generation.

Unsurprisingly, public toilets with transparent walls at Yoyogi Fukacho Mini Park and Harunogawa Community Park initially attracted a lot of attention.

The work of 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Shigeru Ban, the structures use “smart glass” that instantly turns opaque when the toilet door is locked.

The interior is spacious and the structure is illuminated at night, with visibility being the designers’ main concern.

“Before going in, everyone wanted to check that no one was hiding inside and that it was clean,” Ban Ki-moon said in an interview with state broadcaster NHK.

“This is the solution to these problems.”

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Another prominent Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, ​​proposed a tapered, cylindrical metal design for the project with an elongated roof.

A 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station, entrances on both sides of the building at Jingu-dori Park allow natural light and wafting air to enter.

“The value of a building is not determined by its size,” Ando told NHK. “This public toilet may be small, but it sends an important message.

“I want users to feel comfortable using the facility. I think about accessibility for everyone, including wheelchair users. I believe a city has to be inclusive, and if we can show that one of the ways is to change poor public toilets. “

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Other project facilities include “White”, a bright cubic toilet located just outside the west exit of Yebisu Station; “Hi Toilet”, a bright white hemisphere where all functions are touchless for users; and Nabeshima Shoto Park A “village” of five cedar-planked cabins called “Walking in the Woods.”

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Elsewhere in Japan, companies, local organizations and authorities have embraced the idea that a warm welcome to tourists should extend to public toilets.

Resuto Ujo restaurant in Echizen, Fukui prefecture has a walled open-air toilet where users are surrounded by a miniature Japanese garden with carefully trimmed pine trees, mossy mounds and a stone lantern.

Anyone dining at Hipopo Papa restaurant in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture will be watched by hundreds of fish in the surrounding aquarium.

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Seating at Haiji restaurant in Madarao Kogen ski resort in Nagano prefecture gives users the impression that they are at the top of a towering ski jump through panoramic photos taped to the wall. For added authenticity, pairs of skis are attached to the floor.

Itabu Station, located in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, continues the theme of toilets surrounded by nature, with a single transparent wall cubicle in the garden surrounded by a high fence. The “garden toilet” is located in a 200 square meter green area and is for women only.

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Hikers attempting to climb Mount Fuji have long complained about the standard of facilities on the summit, and the Shizuoka prefectural government has responded by installing 24 environmentally friendly public amenities.

Some are bio-toilets that use wood chips and microbes to break down waste, others use reclaimed water, and incinerator toilets produce no sewage at all. While they may lack luxurious amenities, the views are spectacular.

The toilet at Oath Hill Park in Oyama City, Shizuoka Prefecture, admires Japan’s most famous mountain while imitating the shape of Mount Fuji.

Opening in October 2021, the facilities offer sheltered viewing areas with roofs that replicate the contours of volcanic peaks, while nearby toilet cubicles are circular with the same white tapered canopies.

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Fuchu, in eastern Hiroshima prefecture, is another city making an effort with public toilets.

The Hachiman Shrine attracts thousands of visitors each year, especially during the autumn months when the surrounding trees take on seasonal colors.

However, these visitors were not impressed with the single portable pod toilet that was available.

Yasukuni authorities have since built another state-of-the-art toilet that uses technology to frost the transparent walls of the cubicle when the user locks the door.

Inspired by its popularity, Fuchu authorities launched a campaign to improve public restrooms in general, and other new facilities featured spinning figures of dragons, combined with stained-glass windows depicting hydrangeas.

And if all that wasn’t enough to lure toilet lovers to Japan, appliance maker Toto has a museum in the city of Kitakyushu dedicated to the history and future of bathrooms.

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Also read: Top things to do in Tokyo: 20 free tours and activities to try

This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post.



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