Shibuya City Branding: “The Tokyo Toilet” Project

In 2018 , the Nippon Foundation collaborated with Shibuya City and its Tourism Association to launch “The Tokyo Toilet.”

The project, which has since attracted a lot of media attention, domestic and international alike, aims to eliminate the negative stigma of public toilets and realize a society that recognizes a diversity of users.

17 Public Toilet Renovation Projects in Shibuya City
Location: Jingu-Dori(Designer: Tadao Ando)

Since its start, they have renovated 17 public toilets in Shibuya City. 16 world-renowned architects and designers participated, challenged to solve social problems with their creative power, improving the toilet’s maintenance as well. To know more about the projects’ philosophy, we recommend you view this cinematic advertisement.

“The Tokyo Toilet” Inspired Award-winning Feature Film “Perfect Days”
Location: Yoyogi-Fukamachi (Designer: Shigeru Ban)

German filmmaker Wim Wenders was also invited to Tokyo to take a look at the uniqueness of each facility. First introduced to this project by Koji Yanai, president of Fast Retailing, Wenders imagined a feature film, co-written by Takuma Takasaki and starring Yakusho Kōji, who won best actor at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival for his lead role in “Perfect Days”.

In Japan, it’s long been important to always keep toilets clean, to the point they’ve come to represent the symbol of Japan’s world-class “omotenashi” hospitality culture.

The Importance of Improving Quality of Life Through Inclusive Design
Location: Ebisueki Nishiguchi (Designer: Sato Kashiwa)

In Japan, toilets are ubiquitous. However, due to the stereotype that many public toilets are dark, dirty and smelly, people’s use has been limited. Since the renovations, it was reported in a survey conducted by Nippon Foundation that the project is having its effect, improving the image of public toilets.

Compared to before the restrooms were renovated, use of the Public Toilets have increased sevenfold and fivefold in two locations, while the number of people voicing aversion to public toilets shrank from some 30% to a mere 3%.

The hope of Nippon Foundation is that access to attractive and clean public toilets will boost the image of surrounding areas, with the facilities becoming tourist attractions in their own right.

Our hope as designers is to have succeeded in shedding some light on how important public design for public spaces is, and the positive effect that it can have on society, always keeping in mind the users first and foremost.

Photo: Satoshi Nagare, courtesy of the Nippon Foundation

This project by The Nippon Foundation aims for the realization of a society where all kinds of diversity are accepted, by building public toilets. With the full cooperation of Shibuya city, 17 toilets that are accessible for anyone regardless of gender, age, or disability will be created. Through the power of design and the creativity of 16 creators who support the objectives of this project, The Nippon Foundation is demonstrating what this new society can achieve. The toilets will be constructed by DAIWA HOUSE INDUSTRY CO., LTD., and TOTO LTD. will advise on toilet equipment and layout.

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