Japan Has a Toilet of the Year Award! But the 2015 Winner Has No Privacy?

  • Among the many things that Japan is known for, one of those things is its high-tech toilets. So is it any wonder that there are awards given to the best toilets? 2015’s Toilet of The Year was awarded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, to Gallery TOTO which is a public toilet located in Narita’s Airport. The problem is there seems to be a lack of privacy for the toilet users.

    Gallery TOTO


    Gallery TOTO was designed by Klein Dytham Architecture which is based in Tokyo. You can find this toilet at the Sky Lounge. It is one of the upgrades done in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. Apart from its function as a public toilet, it also serves as a showroom for TOTO, a brand for Japanese bathroom products. That is a really neat idea as they get to kill two birds with one stone! Now you know why it is named Gallery TOTO.

    The Design

    The toilet cubicle walls seem to be translucent which shows the silhouettes of the users inside the toilet. According to the architect, Mark Dytham, the idea is to make the most private place displayed to the public. Thankfully, the team was not completely caught up in this idea, so the walls are actually opaque! Occupants actually have complete privacy inside. The silhouettes you see are actually pre-recorded videos of a performance by the dance troupe named Strange Kinoko, lit by LED lights. If the toilets were to show everything, I wonder who would be brave enough to use them!

    There is an LED indicator strip fitted on each toilet which would indicate how long the toilet has been used for. This would be useful for others who are waiting for their turns to gauge which toilets would be the fastest next available toilets. However, it would be embarrassing for users who are having a rough stomach day and have to spend a lot of time in the toilets, as others would be able to see how long they have been there!

    The Toilet of The Year award helps to encourage inventors to design creative and high-quality toilets in Japan. Perhaps other countries should take note of this and implement it too. If you have some time to waste at Narita Airport, why not check out Gallery TOTO? You can also check out the video showcasing the toilet here.

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