Quirky public toilets in Tokyo inspire Wim Wenders

(AFP) – From “Wings of Desire” to “Buena Vista Social Club”, the work of Wim Wenders is eclectic, and the German director found his latest inspiration… in public toilets in Tokyo.

The European film giant, 76, is preparing a new film about the “Tokyo Toilet art project, an urban renewal project in which renowned architects transform 17 rather drab toilets in Shibuya ward into works of art of art.

One of them is equipped with colored and transparent cabins which become opaque when the door is closed, and another is decorated with wooden panels created by the architect of the Olympic Stadium, Kengo Kuma.

All of these new facilities are free, wheelchair accessible and kept immaculately clean by a team of cleaners.

“There’s something very Japanese about this idea, about this whole setting. I almost think it’s a utopian idea,” Wim Wenders said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“The toilet is a place where everyone is the same. There are no rich and poor, no old and young, everyone is part of humanity.”

– “Precious place” –

The director said he was approached by the organizers of the renovation project, who inspired him to make the film, which brings together four short stories, with the famous Japanese actor Koji Yakusho in the role of a cleaner.

“I love architecture. In another life, I would certainly like to be an architect,” confessed Wim Wenders, who said he was particularly happy to work with the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando, ​​who contributed to the project with a structure sparkling circular with fine slats allowing air to pass through.

“I was so happy when I saw his toilet, how he worked with the light…I thought, it’s a precious place,” the director said.

Twelve of Tokyo’s 17 new toilets have been completed and are in use.

In many countries, “public toilets are not seen as something beautiful,” said Tadao Ando. “So I thought that these beautiful toilets could convey a sense of Japan’s beauty to people all over the world,” he explained.

It is not the first time that Wim Wenders has worked in Japan: his 1985 film “Tokyo-Ga” is a tribute to the city as seen by the master of cinema Yasujiro Ozu, and he also made a documentary about the creator of Yohji Yamamoto fashion.