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wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen

wim wenders shines light on the tokyo toilet project

 

For the past four years, designboom has been rounding up the curious designs of 17 public lavatories in Shibuya, Tokyo. Launched in 2018 by The Nippon Foundation, The Tokyo Toilet (TTT) project invited 16 architects and creators — including Toyo ItoShigeru Ban, and Kengo Kuma — to renovate these public restrooms, countering the common expectation of such facilities as being dark, dirty and dangerous places and encouraging diversity by providing accessible facilities for anyone regardless of gender, age, or disability. These fascinating landmarks have now made their way to the silver screen, starring in German filmmaker Wim Wenders’ latest film — Perfect Days. Hailed at the Cannes Film Festival as his greatest recent masterpiece, it is set for distribution in over 80 countries. 

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
Nabeshima Shoto Park toilet by Kengo Kuma | image © Satoshi Nagare, courtesy The Nippon Foundation

 

 

perfect days, a touching tale of a public toilet cleaner 

 

Perfect Days by Wim Wenders follows the fictional life of Hirayama, a public toilet cleaner, played by acclaimed Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, in Shibuya, Tokyo. Leading a calm and quiet existence, the protagonist wakes up every day at the same time, gets ready like usual, and heads to work to clean the same lavatories. Though his life may seem monotonous, no two days are ever the same, and he steps into each new day with a serene optimism that is sure to pull at our heartstrings. But amid this peaceful existence, unexpected events eventually shake up his life and reaching back into his past.

 

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
image: screenshot, PERFECT DAYS – Official Trailer | courtesy Neon

 

 

from kengo kuma to toyo ito designs

 

A touching tale crafted by Wim Wenders, the movie takes the viewer on a cinematic journey through several renovated public toilets, starting with Kengo Kuma’s toilet village organized as five huts nestled among the lush greenery of Shibuya’s Nabeshima Shoto park — each of which is camouflaged with a cluster of timber louvers. The cedar board louvers are installed at subtly randomized angles to imply an organic, natural condition. Each of the five huts is linked by a meandering footpath that seems to disappear into the forest-like assemblage in the Japanese capital. 

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park toilet by Shigeru Ban | image courtesy The tokyo Toilet

 

 

Following Kuma’s design is the Shigeru Ban lavatory in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park, designed with two key points in mind — cleanliness and security — two aspects we all take into consideration when entering a public restroom. By using the latest technology, Ban’s entry for the Tokyo toilet project features the latest, estate-of-the-art technology that turns the exterior glass opaque when the doors have been locked. This way, users can check the cleanliness of the bathroom, as well as if the stall is empty. at night, the facility lights up the park, referencing a lantern. Divided into three cubicles, the colorful public toilets match the hues found in both parks, instantly becoming part of them. 

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
image: screenshot, PERFECT DAYS – Official Trailer | courtesy Neon

 

 

Keeping up with the whimsy, Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito’s redesign emerges as three mushrooms sprouted in the wooded area of Yoyogi-Hachiman. The architect divided his Tokyo toilet into three separate blocks with space in between to make them easy to navigate. Connecting paths open at both ends also aims to prevent crime by improving visibility around the facility. Up next is the Ebisu Park lavatory by Wonderwall comprising 15 interlocking concrete walls that reference the country in neolithic times. ‘Trying to envision the appearance and atmosphere of the primitive kawaya of the past, we built an ‘ambiguous space’ that is simultaneously an object and a toilet by randomly combining 15 concrete walls,’ explains Wonderwall’s Masamichi Katayama.

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
Ebisu Park toilet by Wonderwall | image © Satoshi Nagare, courtesy The Nippon Foundation

 

 

Completing the movie’s visual storyline are Takenosuke Sakakura’s lantern-inspired Nishihara Itchome Park toilet and Tadao Ando’s cylindrical toilet design at Jingu-Dori Park with wide, projecting eaves to create a wrapping Engawa or porch-like space. For Wim Wenders, documenting these unique Tokyo toilets taps into a critical social layer ‘because a toilet is a place where everybody is the same. There’s no rich and poor, no old and young, everybody’s part of humanity,‘ he says.

wim wenders film takes tokyo toilets by tadao ando, shigeru ban & more to the silver screen
image: screenshot, PERFECT DAYS – Official Trailer | courtesy Neon

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Yoyogi-Hachiman toilet by Toyo Ito | image © Satoshi Nagare, courtesy The Nippon Foundation

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