Famous Asakusa tourist site has a very public place to pee…for those who know where to find it.

As the oldest temple in Tokyo, Sensoji in Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most famous tourist sites, with visitors coming to see the huge lantern at the Kaminarimon gate

▼ …and the equally impressive second gate, Hozomon, with the Five-Storied Pagoda beside it.

The landmarks are particularly beautiful at night, when they’re lit up until 11:00 p.m., long after the main hall closes at 5:00 p.m. This is when you get to enjoy the temple in a whole new light, with an atmosphere that transports you back to the Edo period (1603-1867), and there’s one site in particular that’ll make you feel like a sword-touting samurai or a ninja in the shadows, but not a lot of people know about it.

▼ We’ve circled the hidden spot for you on this map of the grounds below.

You’re not mistaken — we really have circled a public toilet, and this one is said to be very different to the other two public restrooms in the vicinity. This site has recently been gaining attention amongst local visitors, so a couple of our reporters went to check it out, but when they arrived at the toilets, they didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.


To most visitors, this looks like a regular public restroom.

However, those in the know will head straight to a spot beside the toilet building, because that’s where you’ll find…

▼…a hidden urinal!

What looks like a little garden with a large decorative stone is actually a men’s urinal, and despite being a relatively secluded location, it’s still right out there in the open, in full view of the public.

This unusual urinal lets you pee like they would’ve in the Edo days, out in the open with the elements caressing your junk in a public setting.

Even though there are bamboo fences to protect your privacy, it’s still a pretty well-lit spot so it takes a bit of courage to relieve yourself here. Even our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma, who doesn’t usually have many inhibitions, trembled like a shy samurai when he unzipped the fly on his trousers.

The experience offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and tension that’s both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Masanuki’s friend and colleague Takamichi Furusawa, who was out with him on this night, couldn’t resist giving the urinal a try as well, and he loved the old-fashioned atmosphere.

▼ Nothing to see here — just a samurai in the shadows with his samurai sword.

Though the grounds of Sensoji never close, the public toilet block beside the outdoor urinal is only open from 6-10 p.m., which is outside the temple’s business hours.

After this time, the lights around the toilets tend to be turned off, making this urinal harder to find late at night. However, when Masanuki returned the next day to see what the place looked like while it was bustling with visitors…

▼…he found the urinal seemed even more exposed, and though it could be used during the day…

▼ …it was right next to the smoking area and the prying eyes of smokers, so nobody appeared game enough to use it.

It was as if the smokers weren’t aware of the hidden urinal, though, because when nobody’s using it, it’s so inconspicuous you could walk right past it without even realising what it was.

So next time you’re visiting Sensoji in Asakusa, perhaps strolling through the grounds in a rented kimono, why not try out the hidden urinal? Unlike other more well-known public toilets in Tokyo, particularly those made famous by the Oscar-nominated movie Perfect Days, this one is yet to be discovered by foreign tourists, so you won’t have to queue to use it. However, if you suffer from paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome, you might want to visit at night to be on the safe side. Sometimes it’s better to visit Sensoji after the sun goes down!

Related: Sensoji Temple
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