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Toumei, designed by Shigeru Ban. 

Toumei, designed by Shigeru Ban. 

Photographer: Takaaki Iwabu/Bloomberg

CityLab
Design

These Toilets in Japan Are About to Get Their Own Movie

The artfully designed restrooms in Tokyo’s Shibuya will be the subject of a new movie by German director Wim Wenders.

Toilets are usually out of sight and out of mind, until nature calls. Yet it is this universality and daily use that make restrooms a lens for examining the relationship between our cities and lifestyles, with each one telling a story about a snapshot in time.

One country where toilets are appreciated and openly discussed, however, is Japan, so much so that it inspired German filmmaker Wim Wenders to make a new movie about a collection of public restrooms in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.