With lavishly decorated gold-painted ceilings, a flowing brook and a Japanese style bridge, this is one of the most stylish places to do your business in Japan.
In Japan, the 10th of November is known as “Elevator Day”, “Water Well Day”, and, according to the Japan Toilet Association, “Toilet Day”. This homage to the lavatory first came about in 1986 after a creative interpretation of the numbers 10 (“to”) and 11, (which looks like “ii”), came close to resembling “toire“, the Japanese word for toilet. Now, thirty years later, with people still unsure of how to celebrate such a strange occasion, our Japanese-language reporter decided to mark the day in the best way he knew how: with a visit to one of the country’s most luxurious bathrooms.
With a full bladder, our reporter headed off to Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, where the toilet can be found inside Meguro Gajoen, a hotel and ceremony hall built in 1931 as the country’s first-ever wedding complex. This venue is known for being so luxurious that it was often compared to the mythical Palace of the Sea God back in the Showa Era (1926 – 1989), and today an original room that houses the Hyakudan Kaidan (100-step staircase) is so revered it’s been registered as a Tangible Cultural Asset of Tokyo. The complex still has an esteemed reputation, well-known throughout Japan for its luxurious hotel rooms, gorgeous Japanese-style interiors, and its incredible public restrooms, which were built at a jaw-dropping cost of 100 million yen (US$935,322).
With such a glorious history behind it, and a mind-blowing price tag on its restrooms, there’s no better place to make a splash in honour of the day of the toilet. After entering the complex, the large glass walls inside look out onto a number of beautifully manicured inner gardens, with Japanese stone lanterns and red-clothed seating instantly transporting visitors to a high-class version of traditional Japan that conjures up images of royalty.
The classy surroundings continue inside, with huge artwork on the walls making you feel like you’re in your very own museum.
Feeling like a royal with a very full bladder, our reporter finally arrived at the famous million-dollar restroom. Before even stepping inside, the entrance was a sight to behold, with a dazzling golden artwork hanging above the sliding doors.
The doors themselves were intricately designed, with more gold embellishments around a series of circular cut-outs and a luxurious black-and-red lacquered finish. Despite the grand appearance, anyone is free to enter and use these restrooms.
Both the male and female facilities were tucked away beyond this entrance, with the ladies’ on the left and the men’s room on the right. Looking at the entrance straight-on makes it appear like a spectacular Japanese painting, with the mother-of-pearl inlays on the kimono-clad women sparkling in the middle, creating a sense of depth in the scene. We can’t help but wonder how much of the 100 million-yen budget was spent on this section alone.
Stepping inside the bathroom was like stepping back in time to a royal compound in old Japan. The traditional eaves gave the area a sense of being outdoors, while the low ceiling glistened with squares of gold-painted art, creating a bright environment. To top it all off, the final journey from entryway to latrine was made over a beautiful bridge that arched over a babbling brook! By this stage, our Japanese reporter was desperate to empty his bladder, but he couldn’t help staring in awe at the bathroom scenery first. This was the perfect way to celebrate Toilet Day.
Over in the ladies’ room, where our female reporter paid respects to Toilet Day, things were a lot busier. The women’s and men’s areas were separated by the low wall in the middle, and this section had elegant private booth areas for touching up makeup.
While the restroom area itself was breathtakingly impressive, our Japanese reporter was relieved to find that the toilets inside weren’t dripping with gold embellishments, which would have made it impossible to do his business. Instead, they were high-quality Japanese-style toilets, and the stalls were incredibly clean and spacious.
Visiting the elegant restroom was a surprisingly memorable experience and one that everyone should definitely try at least once! If you’re in Japan and you missed national Toilet Day, there’s another chance to pay your respects to the throne, with World Toilet Day coming up on 19 November. Now you know where to celebrate the momentous occasion!
Meguro Gajoen / 目黒雅叙園
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Shimomeguro 1-8-1
[ Read in Japanese ]