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They Did What?: 

Airport gallery shows Japan’s hi-tech toilets


What ARE they doing in there?

As anyone who’s been to Japan will tell you, the toilets are pretty special. They lift their lids when you open the door, can spray jets of water to help you clean off down there, and even heat the seats to keep you warm on a winter’s day. But don’t take our word for it. Check out this gallery that’s put on an exhibition of them.

Klein Dytham Architecture has joined forces with Toto, Japan’s leading toilet manufacturer, to put together the exhibition, called Gallery Toto, at Terminal 2 of Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. But it’s not just an exhibition. It’s also a series of working bathrooms that visitors are encouraged to use. Better make sure you’re alone before you do though.

It was voted Japan’s toilet of the year by the ministry of land, infrastructure and transportation. Why not test it yourself and see if you agree?

As you can see, the walls appear to be translucent, showing the silhouettes of people dancing, cleaning and generally having a good time in there. But these are actually LED screens, playing pre-recorded sequences. (We did wonder who enjoyed being in a bathroom so much.) Which means that no one will be able to see you while you’re in there.

Behind the door, your hi-tech toilet might look like this;


A bathroom with a view.

This element of pretend voyeurism was part of the reason for the exhibition, architect and studio co-founder Mark Dytham admitted to Dezeen. “We were interested in the notion of the most private place being in a most public place,” he said. “We wanted to get away from the perception of toilets as closed and dark environments, where one can barely see beyond the entrance area, and where one is only confronted with a series of terraced shells.”

It also has some more practical features. Each of the 10 cubicles is fitted with an LED indicator strip showing how long it’s been in use. In theory, the one with the longest strip should become free next.

Inside they’re suitably plush, decorated with a series of landscapes.

Gallery Toto is part of a series of upgrades at the airport in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games, which take place in Tokyo. If this is what the airport toilets are like, we can’t wait to see the opening ceremony.

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