Anyone planning to visit Japan in the summer better know which noxious lavatories to avoid.

By and large, Japanese restrooms rank highly in terms of cleanliness with their heated toilet seats and power sprays for your undercarriage, not to mention the noise reduction systems. But they certainly aren’t infallible, and if that delicate balance of cleaning manpower and usage is toppled then it is not a pretty sight.

Let’s not forget to add in the typical Japanese summer, which in urban areas is a sweltering, humid mess. This mugginess acts to capture and suspend foul orders so that they may swirl and mingle together like a school of herring.

In an act of civil duty, the website Nikkan Spa! investigated several public toilets to find out which one’s had the worst smell using a machine that measures odor intensity. However, since that only gives an intensity reading, it would also tell them a chocolate chip cookie factory was “terrible smelling.” So they also brought along a licensed odor judge to ensure pure awfulness.

Now,you might be thinking train stations are a shoe in for this, but no, they didn’t even crack the top five. When a Shibuya Station restroom was measured, it only got a stink rating of 70. Take that as a baseline for how bad these other places are.

From Monday to Friday, office restrooms are usually in pretty good condition. However, on the weekends when the cleaning staff is off-duty and many staff come in for overtime, things take a turn for the worse.

Spa! measured the toilets here on a Sunday night when two days of errant urine streams and flatulence had built up to a eye-watering crescendo. As a result it earned a score of 82 and should give us a renewed appreciation for all cleaning staff out there.

I’d like to amend my previous appreciation by saying thank you to all “skilled” cleaning people. For example, service areas found along highways all over Japan are cleaned… if your idea of cleaning is connecting a fire hose to a huge tank of ammonia and just letting loose all over the place.

While service areas may not have the typical foul man-made odors of most public toilets, the intense nose-burning and stomach-turning stench of ammonia hanging in the humid summer air nabbed it a 150 point rating, almost twice as bad as the office building.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the more alcohol one consumes, the less capable they become at using a toilet bowl properly. So when Spa! visited on a Friday night, the public toilets on the outskirts of this historic bar area were understandably horrifying.

Wikipedia/Jorge from Brazil

Urine and feces were readily found lying outside of their intended targets free to emanate their scents. This all mixed in with the ever-present aroma of regurgitated alcohol and B.O. each patron built up after a full day in the summer heat. Grand total: 180 points.

Despite enjoying the ventilation of being outdoors, these brave porto-potties endure a wave of hundreds of thousands of people in a single day. And with no sewage system to back them up, music festivals add up to one massive gathering of human waste.

Standing at the threshold between that thin line separating tons of festering excreta and the band 5 Seconds of Summer, Spa! rated the stench a whopping 285.

This might seem like an odd winner for the dubious honor of Japan’s worst-smelling toilet, but these humble book repositories apparently pack quite a wallop in the dead of summer.

Inside these narrow rooms with little to no ventilation, which also allows smoking inside, an entire microcosm of thriving mold frolicking along golden hills of cigarette tar can be found along with their associated scents.

This is all despite the staff’s best attempts to clean it by just splashing ammonia all over the place and then shutting the door to seal it all in. And finally of course the standard smells of your average toilet is the cherry on top.

▼ If you’re lucky, you might just find some used enemas inside too!

It’s a perfect storm of awful smells and managed to edge out the music festival by a single point with 286.

Of course with many of these places there is a wide range of quality. For example, in some cases service area restrooms are lauded for their cleanliness.

However if you find yourself on the streets of Japan and nature calls, best to play it safe and not duck into that nearby manga cafe. If you’re in Shinjuku, you can even try massaging Mr. Sato and asking if you can use his personal cardboard toilet lined with garbage bags. It’d still be an improvement.

Source: Nikkan Spa!
Images: SoraNews24 (unless otherwise noted)