Tokyo public toilets become unique tourist attraction for travelers

23:19, April 15

In addition to visiting temples and admiring the cherry blossoms, visitors to Tokyo can now explore the city's more modern wonders—public toilets, reports Reuters.

Penelope Panchuk was inspired by the Oscar-nominated film Perfect Days, about a toilet cleaner in the city's Shibuya district. “In the US or France, where I’m from, you won’t go there,” Panchuk said. “Here in Tokyo they are very clean, very safe and each one is so different that each time it feels like a new discovery,” she added.

Among Japan's most admired technological exports in recent years are toilets made by TOTO.

The animated comedy South Park recently dedicated an entire episode to them, and hip-hop impresario DJ Khaled gushed on Instagram about a gift of four TOTO toilets from rapper Drake.

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Launched in 2020 through the non-profit The Nippon Foundation, the Tokyo Toilet Project has enlisted renowned celebrities, including Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, to improve the accessibility and design of 17 public toilets in the Shibuya area.

The project was not intended to be a tourist attraction, but the Shibuya government saw an opportunity to expand the area's appeal to visitors.

“The special thing for visitors is that they can visit the lesser-known parts of Shibuya and enjoy the entire area while checking out the restrooms,” said area tourism association manager Yumiko Nishi.

The $32.76 tour includes visits to nine separate restrooms, including one with transparent walls that turn opaque when visitors enter and another that is controlled by voice commands.

Takao Karino, visiting from Japan's western metropolis Osaka, marveled at the building's wide, vaulted entrance designed by UK designer Miles Pennington.

"There's nothing else like it in Japan," said Carino, 69. “It’s unusual, it’s unique, it’s really great.”

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