There’s not really any such thing as a good city to crash your car in. Still, you’ve got to think that Kyoto is an especially bad place to do it. Having been the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, there’s nowhere in the country with a denser concentration of historically significant buildings, gardens, and artifacts, so if you happen to slam your car into something, it was probably something important.
Case in point: on Monday morning, a 30-year-old driver crashed into a building that’s registered as Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. What makes the structure special? It’s the oldest toilet in Japan.
Sure, the toilets in question may not have the fancy heated seats and pulsating jets of butt-cleansing water that modern Japanese toilets have, and are basically just circular holes cut into blocks of stone. That’s understandable, though, because this restroom was constructed in the early 15th century as part of Tofukuji Temple, in what’s now the Honmachi neighborhood of Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward. See, while an ascetic lifestyle has long been part of being a monk in Japan, even the most stoic of practitioners needs a place to poop, so the temple constructed a restroom, called a tosu, next to its meditation hall,
Unfortunately, at around 9:30 a.m. on Monday, a 30-year-old man who was turning his car around in the temple’s parking area forgot he was still in reverse when he pressed down on the accelerator. Instead of pulling forward, the car zoomed backwards into the tosu, smashing the wooden door to the building and damaging the interior support pillars. There’s a short flight of steps that leads down from the parking area into the entrance to the tosu, which probably added to the car’s speed before it crashed.
▼ A video tour of Tofukuji’s tosu from a few years ago, accompanied by some smooth jazz that seems like just the thing to help you relax and do your business.
By the way, for those wondering about the unusual-looking car involved, it’s a WiLL Vi, a model produced by Toyota from 2000 to 2001. The distinct rear glass styling is supposed to be evocative of a fairy tale princess’ carriage.
It’s been many, many years since the Tofukuji’s tosu has been an active bathroom, and no one was inside when the accident occurred. Still, with the busy fall foliage tourism season coming up soon for Kyoto, the temple is hoping to have the damage repaired as soon as possible.
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