20 May 2012 01:06 PM EST
-by Jennifer Monteagudo, Staff Writer; Image: The ‘world’s largest toilet’ (Image Source: Ichihara City Department of Tourism, via Gawker)
Ichihara City, Japan, knows how to treat its visitors: the city just spent 10 million yen, or about $124,000, on making the “world’s largest toilet,” intended for tourists, the Japan Times online reports.
The toilet itself isn’t particularly large—it’s the space it sits on. At 200 square feet, the Ichihara loo sits on the largest plot of land ever dedicated to one single public toilet.
Hoping to attract foreign visitors, the toilet, which sits in a glass cube in a fenced-in garden, is “located in front of Itabu Station on the Kominato Railway Line,” in a city known for its “abundance of natural beauty, which includes flourishing cherry trees and mustard fields.”
Yet, until recently, as the Japan Times reports, “the only toilets available for visitors were botton benjo, unattractive pit toilets that appeared old-fashioned and unclean.”
Artist’s rendering of the Ichihara City “world’s largest toilet” (Image Source: Sou Fujimoto Architects, via JapanTimes.co.jp)
This new toilet, which through glass walls is open to the natural elements of a plotted garden, but with a fence retains its privacy, was considered a creative solution to Ichihara’s toilet problem. Not only does it provide tourists a comfortable place to do their “business,” but it also draws attention to the city’s natural beauty and artistic bent.
Next year, Ichihara will host an Art Festival, and this new commode was no doubt intended to draw media attention to the town and its attractions.
The designer of the unusual facility was none other than Sou Fujimoto, whose company recently won the bid to design the Taiwan Tower. Fujimoto spoke to the Japan Times via email: “I thought it would be quite interesting. Public lavatories are something both private and public, so designing them can be a very motivating challenge for architects. I was also enthusiastic about the fact that Itabu Station is surrounded by such wonderful wildlife. I thought it was a great opportunity to rethink the relationship between architecture and nature.”