Lonely Planet Writer

Japan celebrates the humble loo in style

Knowing where to find a clean bathroom is essential information for any traveller – but in Japan, you don’t have to just use a toilet when you can experience one.

The toilet gallery at the Narita Airport.
The toilet gallery at the Narita Airport. Image by Toto Ltd.

Visitors can learn more about the all-important toilet at a museum in Kitakyushu or a gallery in a Tokyo airport, created by Japanese toilet company Toto Ltd.

The toilet gallery at the Narita Airport.
The toilet gallery at the Narita Airport. Image by Toto Ltd.

The Toto Gallery is located in the waiting area of Terminal 2 at the Narita Airport. According to a news release “Travellers from around the world stand still, walk in and are inspired”. The walk to the toilets is “transformed into a journey through a world with much to discover” with performances, art and clean bathrooms.

The gallery is designed to look like the front of a showroom, with glass windows with fabric-covered LED monitors that show changing colours. There are videos to entertain visitors on the theme of water and “10 different booths, or room-in-room installations”.

The toilet museum.
The toilet museum. Image by Toto Ltd.

In August, Toto Ltd. opened a toilet museum in Kitakyushu featuring exhibits on the roots and history of Toto, plumbing equipment culture and history, products from around the world. The museum will also host special exhibits and includes a museum shop.

The museum cost $60 million to build and has already seen more than 30,000 visitors, according to the Washington Post.

The toilet museum.
The toilet museum. Image by Toto Ltd.

The museum displays not only Toto’s seat-warming high-tech toilets, but extra-wide toilets from sumo wrestling stadiums and other unusual thrones.

Japan’s dedication to the toilet is well-known – the country has a toilet god – but, it’s not the only place in the world where you can check out some interesting latrines. The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi displays toilet paraphernalia from as far back at 2500 BC. The museum is run by a charity that helps bring sanitation to areas of India.

Read more: Japan holds competition to find the best toilet

Japan ponders providing water and toilets in lifts

Kyoto issues toilet rules for foreign tourists

High-tech toilets to be installed at Tokyo airport