Because the last thing you want to do is wander through one of Tokyo’s massive stations while trying to hold in a dump.
With pretty much the busiest mass transit system in the world, Tokyo also has some seriously huge subway stations. Major hubs in the Tokyo area are made up of seemingly endless corridors connecting various lines, shopping centers, and restaurant rows, and some are so complex that they can literally double as RPG dungeon maps.
For example here’s a map of Tokyo Metro’s Ikebukuro subway station.
The four areas marked in red are restrooms, and while it’s nice to have multiple options, you’ll also notice that each is pretty far from the others. So should you hear nature calling and make your way to one bathroom, only to find every stall occupied, you’ve then got a spine-tingling, sphincter-clenching trek of several minutes before you can try your luck at another restroom.
Thankfully, Tokyo Metro is making it easier to procure public-use pooping places. As of December 1, you can use your smartphone to check, in real time, which bathrooms in Ikebukuro Station have vacant stalls.
The newly added Toilet Vacancy Information Provision Service of the official Tokyo Metro App lets you know both the total number of stalls and how many are currently unoccupied for the restrooms located near the Marunouchi, Yurakucho, and Fukutoshin Line platforms, as well as the Echika Ikebukuro shopping complex. The information is updated constantly by sensors which register whether the stall doors are closed(and thus the stalls occupied), then send the data to Tokyo Metro’s server, which relays it to users of the app. So don’t worry, there’re no cameras involved, so it’s not like the app relies on facial recognition software to determine how many people are making a pooping face at any given time.
▼ The door-check system means that the app can’t calculate the number of open urinal stalls, however.
The Tokyo Metro app is free to use and can be downloaded here for iOS and Android devices. To start with, the Toilet Vacancy Information Provision Service will only be offered for Ikebukuro Station as a test of the program’s usefulness and viability, which will run from December 1 to February 28. Depending on the results, Tokyo Metro may expand the program to other stations as well, but at the very least, it’ll be taking the guesswork, and legwork, out of finding an open stall in Ikebukuro this winter.
Source: IT Media, PR Times
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