All About Japan

An Immaculate Japanese Highway Restroom


We’ve talked before about our love of Japan’s roadside rest stops, often called “service areas” or “parking areas” by the locals. Even when they don’t have an awesome samurai or Evangelion theme going on, they remain great places to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat, and shop for souvenirs.

But even if you’re not looking to pick something up but rather to “make a deposit,” Japanese rest area are still awesome, as shown in this video from The Japan Channel.

This isn’t the restroom at a fancy or hotel or inside the gates of a premium-priced Shinkansen bullet train station. This is just a free-to-use men’s room in a rest stop complex along one of Japan’s highways. This one is particularly classy, though, with its colored indicators to spare you the awkwardness of wandering around and knocking on doors to try to find an empty stall. But while not all service areas have some such high-tech setups, some go even further, with monitors displaying which stalls are open posted just outside the bathroom entrance.

Another nice (and common) touch: fresh-cut flowers and potted plants, so the urinal cakes don’t have to do all the work of keeping the place smelling nice.

But just as impressive as these sights is what you don’t see in the video: there isn’t a speck of dirt or smear of grime to be found anywhere. It’s a testament to Japanese society’s twin virtues of being careful not to inconvenience others and taking pride in your work (even if your work happens to be scrubbing toilets). It’s almost surreal that a public poop depository can be this clean, and it serves as a strong reminder of how much nicer the world could be if everyone would put their trash in the trash can and remember to flush.

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