Design + Architecture

Amazing Bathrooms

by Sophia Banay

The flush: NaRa Family shopping mall, Nara, Japan

The lowdown: Public restrooms can sure be icky. But the Japanese have always had their own ideas about toilets—theirs, after all, often have an array of buttons and come with features that would necessitate reading an instruction manual. So no surprise that a public bathroom here transcends the normal ick factor. In fact, the bathrooms at this new mall in southern Japan's Nara City are so futuristic, you don't need to touch a thing. (Well, hardly a thing.) This 150-store futuristic shopping mall has restrooms to match. Be prepared for some rather intimate pampering, though: Each of the 12 state-of-the-art Toto Washlet stalls has a (self_cleaning) wand to wash you and then blow a jet of hot air to dry you off. Both men's and women's toilets also have tiny facilities in the same stall, so kids don't have to go alone. And the toilet also comes with Otohime functionality for pee-shy patrons: a sensor-activated noise machine that shields nearby ears with a digitally reproduced flush sound that lasts for 25 seconds. We wouldn't be shocked to hear the voice of HAL giving a few words of encouragement.

If you have to go:
NaRa Family

Tel: 81 742 331201

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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