High-class Shibuya neighbourhood is home to well-known celebrities…and a famous toilet.

Shoto in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward is known as a high-class residential area, where you’ll find high walls encasing massive buildings that are home to politicians and famous celebrities. Despite being a short walk from Shibuya Station, the area is like a whole other world, with a quiet, serene feel that extends to the local Nabeshima Shoto Park, which was once owned by the Nabeshima family, who grew tea on the land in 1876 after purchasing it from the Tokugawa Shogun family.

▼ Nabeshima Shoto Park

In 1932, after the tea growers ceased operations, the land was gifted to Shibuya City, and today it’s a peaceful haven for visitors, many of whom come to see the pond and water wheel, which are a throwback to the days when the land was owned by the Tokugawa family.

▼ The area is a haven for both people and wildlife.

In recent years, however, the park has become just as famous for something else — the public toilets.

Located to one side of the pond, these toilets are one of the 17 in Shibuya designed by 16 creative professionals from around the world, who overhauled old restrooms and transformed them into more welcoming public spaces as part of a project called The Tokyo Toilet.

▼ The toilets in Nabeshima Shoto Park were created by award-winning Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

Rather than being a single restroom, these toilets are more like a maze, with the wooden slats cleverly concealing five separate toilet huts.

The path through them is designed to make it feel as if you’re going for a stroll in the forest, with pops of greenery throughout.

To the uninitiated, the complex looks like a public art display, but when you get up close to the huts, you can see some familiar signs beside the doors, which indicate that these are, in fact…

▼…public toilets!

It’s not only the design that’s impressive — the facilities inside are also modern and well maintained.

▼ And if you need Wi-Fi, you can get that here too.

▼ The restrooms are beautiful by day…

▼ …and by night, the site is even more captivating.

The wooden exterior and soft mood lighting makes it look more like a fancy restaurant than a restroom.

The warm texture of the wood and the shadows from the surrounding trees create an aura that’s like the entrance to a Japanese restaurant.

If the restrooms look familiar to you, that might be because they were featured in the Oscar-nominated 2023 movie Perfect Days. This film follows the story of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo, and the restrooms in Nabeshima Shoto Park served as the location for a tear-jerking scene in the movie, where the main character holds the hand of a lost child before reuniting him with his mother, who is quick to disinfect her son’s hand.

▼ The toilets, and the child at Nabeshima Shoto Park, can be seen in the trailer for Perfect Days.

The Shibuya Ward Tourism Association acknowledges that Shibuya doesn’t have a lot of major tourist sites, compared to a lot of other wards in the city, so it’s happy to promote its new toilets as tourist destinations.

It’s now clearly paying off, as tourists from overseas, many of whom have seen Perfect Days, are taking part in so-called “Tokyo Toilet Tours” that take them to some of the toilets created for the Tokyo Toilet project. So next time you’re looking for something to do in Shibuya other than exploring the backstreets or visiting the scramble crossing, don’t forget to take a look at the public toilets. What you find may surprise you!

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