Public Lavatories: How To Do Them Right.

While there is endless, pointless arguing here in uStates over whether or not some people are people enough to use a public lav, and whether or not it’s okey dokey to try and scope out whether or not someone has an approved set of genitals, with regressive assholes intent on doing damage, and making everyone feel unsafe, squabbling like fucking four year olds over who gets to be the dominant one, Japan get its oh so right. I’m ready to run away from home.

What does Japan care about? Utility, of course, but also comfort, design, and the sheer artistry that can be a public lav. The Japanese government awards a highly coveted Toilet of the Year award to spaces deemed worthy. And boy, do they have a whole lot of worthy.

After all, the government estimates that in our lifetime we spend up to 11 months in a bathroom. So why shouldn’t they be spaces that are clean, soothing and relaxing?

So, officials created a pamphlet (PDF) of public toilets they deemed exemplary, and distributed it earlier this year in hopes of elevating the entire public toilet industry. Here are a selection of government-approved public toilets.

And there are a lot of them! You’ll need to click over to Spoon & Tamago to see and read about them all, or hit the pdf. Here are some examples, and it sure would be nice if uStates could grow up and start focusing on what really matters, like grown up Japan:


Gallery Toto at Narita Airport Terminal 2 (Chiba)

At Narita Airport, Japan’s gateway to the world, an art installation-like lineup of toilets greet travelers. Here you’ll find iconic toilet-maker Toto’s latest toilet technology, which is of course available for public usage. We wrote about this project here.


Haneda Airport International Terminal (Tokyo)

At Haneda you’ll find a public bathroom that’s been specifically designed to aid and assist disabled travelers. Universal signage, wide passageways and even a toilet for service dogs makes this bathroom user-friendly for absolutely anyone.


Neopasa Shimizu Service Area (Tomei Expressway, Shizuoka)

Highway service areas usually have the grossest toilets. But not at Neopasa, where an oasis of clean and beautiful toilets await tired drivers and passengers. There are more than twice as many stalls in the ladies’ room, compared to the men’s, to combat longer lines. And a large monitor screen at the entrance even tells you which stalls are unoccupied.


Neopasa Surugawan Numazu Service Area (Tomei Expressway, Shizuoka)

This is the only service area along the Tomei Expressway that has views of the sea. So the operator decided to build their bathroom on the 2nd floor near the terrace and create a space where people want to go, not just because they have to go.

Via Spoon & Tamago, go look! Maybe we can all plan to run away together. I want to live in Hokkaido, though.


  1. Saad says

    Exactly as it should be: public bathrooms have to be about utility and practicality for all, otherwise they’re useless. But damn, those are beautiful. Some of those look like art installations.

    And a large monitor screen at the entrance even tells you which stalls are unoccupied.

    What a brilliant idea!

  2. rq says

    I’m all for bathroom-as-art-installation. Perhaps making them into something worthy of attention, instead of hiding them away in some dark corner, will remove some of the stigma around talking about bodily functions.

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