With every man and his dog having heard tales of Japan’s heated, butt-cheek-massaging, water-squirting thrones or experienced them firsthand by now, the country’s space-age toilets are nothing new.
Why the contraptions haven’t quite caught on overseas yet still amazes me, but Japan continues to do toilets exceedingly well, and few things on this earth please this writer more than opening a stall door and being greeted by a sensor-activated toilet whose lid opens to greet me with the fondness of a dog whose master has just return from a weekend away.
But with all those buttons, dials and functions, Japan’s toilets seem to have peaked. Today’s toilet enthusiasts demand something more! Luxury, ladies and gentlemen, does not come from mere electronics; it comes from spacious, tranquil privacy.
In search of just that, our lucky writer over at RocketNews24 Japan headed out to Chiba prefecture, the home of the world’s most spacious public restroom, documenting the entire process on our behalf. Well, maybe not the entire of the process…
Before we set off, does anyone need to pee?
Located in the small town of Ichihara-shi, Chiba prefecture’s newest sightseeing spot is not exactly the most accessible. The site, dubbed “toilet heaven” by our writer, is located immediately next to a train station, but with just one train stopping by every couple of hours she chose to head over by car instead.
Although train rides usually inspire a greater sense of adventure and that “day out” feeling, thanks to the heavenly toilet’s geographical location, our writer was able to take advantage of the Tokyo Bay Aqualine roadway, which, for those of you who have yet to have the pleasure, is an adventure in itself, and an incredibly cool sight.
The Aqualine, connecting Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, is a toll-road built both above and beneath the water of Tokyo Bay, and stretches a rather epic 14 kilometres. Around three-quarters of the way across the water, drivers come to an artificial island where they can stop and take a break or pick up refreshments. Setting off again, the road suddenly becomes an underwater tunnel, transporting drivers the rest of the way to land.
At 3000 yen (nearly US$40), the Aqualine certainly isn’t the cheapest method of getting to Chiba from Tokyo, but it is definitely something to be experienced once, especially when you consider that this marvel of engineering took more than 30 years to construct, and shaves more than 75 minutes off the 90 minute drive from Kanagawa to Chiba…
Once across the bay, the scenery quickly changes from urban to countryside, and our writer found herself joining a narrow, mountain road.
“For those not accustomed to driving in the countryside, I’d recommend taking it easy; some of the mountain roads leading to toilet heaven are quite narrow and windy, and there are many places where passing cars in the other direction can be tricky, so be careful if you drive out there.”
But arrive she did, and not a moment too soon! Busting for a pee, our reporter parked up near the station and climbed out of her car.
“After driving to such a remote area, it was hard to believe that there could actually be a station out here,” she marvelled; “I think the public toilet is actually the bigger of the two buildings, though!”
Steadying her nerves, our writer made her way towards the large fenced area that surrounds the toilet. Locating the hinged door, she nervously peeked inside…
Angels singing! Harps playing!! Puppies sneezing rose petals!!! Toilet Heaven is everything mother said it would be!
Behind the high fence, towards the end of a long, 200-metre-square flower garden, stands a single, glass-walled toilet stall. A small path leads from the gate, which can be locked from the inside for additional privacy, to the glass cubicle in the middle, curving around a small tree en-route.
“Although the flowers weren’t in bloom on the day of my visit, I noticed that there were both cherry and Chinese plum trees in the garden. Come spring with the flowers in full bloom, the garden must look even more spectacular!”
Since the cubicle itself is entirely see-through, some may feel a little exposed sitting on a toilet in the middle of a garden. Our writer assures us, however, that the clean white curtain fixed to the inside of the cubicle can be pulled all the way around the toilet itself, creating a feeling of absolute privacy and safety while you do your business.
Sadly, I, along with any male readers out there, will have to take our writer’s word for it since, wouldn’t you know it, the world’s most spacious toilet is for women only! Men needing to answer the call of nature are forced to use the regular (boo!) public toilet situated nearby instead…
Inside the safety of her private flower garden / toilet cubicle and surrounded by the peace an tranquility that only a remote location such as this could provide, our reporter settled in to do what she came for.
“It was quite an unbelievable feeling;” she tells, “this must be what using a toilet in heaven feels like!”
Never again fear that the person in the next stall might overhear an unexpected bottom burp! Never again feel pressured to do your business and make the toilet available for the next person! Toilet Heaven is here!
How about it, guys? Would you hold it in for an hour and a half if it meant that you could enjoy your own private toilet sanctuary? Perhaps one day there will be similar structure built for us men, complete with reading material or perhaps even internet access to enjoy while we answer the call of nature…
[ Read in Japanese ]