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Mystery in Shinjuku as woman plunges to death from restroom

52 Comments
By RocketNews24

A bizarre death occurred in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, Tokyo, recently as a 22-year-old woman died after falling nine stories during a visit to the restroom. Although suicide hasn’t been entirely ruled out, this appears to be a case of highly unusual building practices as a door opening onto a sheer drop was also present in the room.

The death

The incident took place on Dec 12 last year when the victim was out drinking with a small group of friends. The party arrived at an unnamed eatery on the ninth floor of a multi-tenant building at approximately 1 a.m. After some typical drinking and eating, the victim announced to her friends at around 4:30 a.m. that she had to use the ladies’ room.

Following the woman’s lengthy absence from the table, her friends naturally became concerned. They went to the restaurant’s restroom but found that the door was locked. With it being the only restroom in the establishment, they resolved that their friend must still be inside. They tried knocking but received no answer.

Eventually the women had the door pried open but found the room empty. They then noticed another door – outside of which was absolutely nothing besides a sheer drop to the ground below – left open.

A staff member immediately dialed 110 and reported that someone may have fallen. Soon after, an officer found the victim on the ground outside the building in which the eatery is located. The woman was pronounced dead on the way to hospital.

The restroom

The private bathroom had a toilet facing perpendicular to the entryway. When sitting on the toilet the user would see the door they came in through on their right and another door-like section of wall on their left.

This secondary, exterior, door would open out onto nothing except the outer wall of the adjacent building, with a one-meter gap between. This door was also slightly different in that its bottom edge was a clear 35 cm from the restroom floor and had a “safety bar” installed at around waist height. However, it had a regular door lock attached to it which was similar to the one on the entrance to the restroom.

The prevailing theory is that the woman was likely intoxicated considering the time and location of the incident, and mistook the door to the outside as the door she had entered through. Upon realizing her mistake, she likely staggered and flipped over the bar falling to the alley beneath.

Why is there a door to nowhere?

Although the case is not completely closed on whether the woman’s death was accidental or not, there is also the perplexing question of why a door to nowhere was even there to begin with.

A subsequent investigation by an Asahi Shimbun reporter found that it was installed for ventilation by the architect. The reason it was shaped almost exactly like a regular door could not be ascertained, however, because the architect in question no longer worked for the firm which constructed the building.

It was noted that in this particular building, every floor from the third one up had such a door, but only the restaurant on the ninth floor had a bathroom installed around it. The other floors had walled over their dangerous portals making it impossible for anyone to go through. According to Asahi, the owners of the building claimed that they left it up to the discretion of their tenants how to deal with the doors and were completely unaware that a washroom had been built in a room containing one of them.

Stay Alert

Needless to say this mystery is murky as all living parties will surely want to avoid liability and the only one who can know the truth is sadly no longer with us. But the one lesson we can take from this tragedy is that you should always pay careful attention to your surroundings, particularly when out drinking or in an unfamiliar place. You never know when the wrong turn will come up and spell disaster so stay sharp and stay safe.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Check out these luxury restrooms – you’ll want to visit Shibuya Hikarie just to use the ladies’ room -- The baffling reason three men spent 30 minutes in an Akihabara restroom together -- Got Three Months to Spare? Why Not Make Big Bucks Doing Manual Labor in Fukushima Disaster Site?

© Japan Today

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52 Comments
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Reminds me of the "Long drop toilet" used in camps. Poor girl.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

shady architects, shady contractors, shady tenants. Hope the unfortunate girls family get compensated properly.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Needless to say this mystery is murky as all living parties will surely want to avoid liability". And thus such colossal negligence is perpetuated. It"s cases like this that cry out for American style litigation here in Japan.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

" Although suicide hasn’t been entirely ruled out, this appears to be a case of highly unusual building practices as a door opening onto a sheer drop was also present in the room. "

Yes, I would call that a "highly unusual building practise! Understatement of the week?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It is not as uncommon as the writer here thinks. Take a look around some of these buildings here sometime and have a door that opens up to the outside can been seen in many places. Typically they are double-locked.

Sounds to me like, at 4:30 AM, she had a few too many drinks, mistook the entrance to the bathroom and stepped out to her unfortunate death.

From the explanation in the article it seems to me that the people who own or maintain the building were at fault for not ensuring that the door in question was not thoroughly secured.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

More liked pushed.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

This is equivalent to having a locked fire escape in the case of a fire...totally the building owner's/manager's responsibility. Opening a door, to a potential 9-storey drop, is something that a patron of an establishment shouldn't have to worry about.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The victim's family needs to sue the building contractor and the owner of the building. What kind of person puts a door to the OUTSIDE on the 9TH FLOOR? Sheer irresponsibility by the building owner's part by not removing the door and finishing the wall or at least blockading the door. Bad building practices by the contractor.

This should not have happened.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I have to say that, personally, I have never read somebody died such of way other than in Japan.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The haunted death bathroom of Shinjuku

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There was a door I used to see high up on the outside wall of the Koma Theatre. Always wondered what the point of it was. This might explain it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This door was also slightly different in that its bottom edge was a clear 35 cm from the restroom floor and had a “safety bar” installed at around waist height.

I can understand being to drunk to remember stepping down 35cm into a bathroom when you came in, but this does not explain the safety bar. Why is it written in quotes here? Was it some tiny flimsy bar that wasn't secured to both sides of the wall? Also at 4:30am it should have been pretty cold outside. You'd think she would feel the gust of cold air....or perhaps notice that the scenery outside looked absolutely nothing like the inside of an izakaya. Quite a mystery how she fell indeed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Leave it to a Japanese newspaper to blame the victim rather than emphasize the liability of the building owner.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

The mystery is "who decided to put that door there!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it was installed for ventilation by the architect.

Perhaps the architect could investigate a new invention called "a window" for such ventilation purposes. In fact, I know of a restroom that has these so-called "windows" placed high on the wall, near the ceiling, so that air can be exchanged but window-peepers and other lechers can't see in.

Pity the poor woman, though. And her family to have her life cut short like that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would be very concerned about any children using what appears to be a very bad Design which should have at least a Ventilation mesh across it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Manslaughter.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Not really a smart thing to have such a door in a business dealing with people drinking alcohol. This was bound to happen. The business should have at least chained it or blocked it with inventory like beer kegs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

More liked pushed.

Sure. Then how was the door still locked from the inside?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

First and foremost, the responsibility lies with the restaurant's owner(s). They must have known of the danger before moving in and setting up shop. If they are going to be serving drunk patrons, they should have made their place of business safe of hazard. A single bar is not idiot-proof. How many times have we heard of drunken salary-men walking under railroad crossing-bars into an oncoming train? As for laying blame on the architect, this odd door doesn't seem like it was mistakenly placed. It may well have been an accepted architectural practice since other posters have seen similar doors about Japan. A terrible tragedy that could have been easily avoided.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"unusual building practices as a door opening onto a sheer drop was also present in the room" -article

This isn't more of that free market stuff the American GOP was on about? "Let the market decide when a sheer drop from the ninth floor loo should be regulated by big government?"

addendum: "Needless to say this mystery is murky" - this must be that free market journalism. Maybe there's a free market Detective Poirot who can help. Asahi, the owners of the building, said the free market wasn't involved in the decision process about leaving openings to a sheer drop from the ninth floor loo.

No one's really sure if anything caused this tragic loss, but the free market wasn't involved said a spokesperson for the free market who did not return calls. There was some speculation that something called a building inspector attached to a certificate of occupancy could be an expensive alternative; but that would require funding which isn't efficient in today's competitive marketplace.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I've seen this type of nowhere door in a skyscraper in downtown Tokyo. It too was in a restroom. There was a window near it where you could see there was no outside balcony or emergency stair. I can think of safer ways to ventilate a room than such a door. I've also looked up from the street and seen doors to nowhere on the outside of buildings. I'm afraid this is far more common than the article states.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

that it was installed for ventilation by the architect. well then put a ventilation grate over the opening, not a door. people who design these buildings need to think of worse case senarios, people rushing through doors during a emergency or in this ladies case intoxicated. her family should sue these morons

3 ( +4 / -1 )

WTF

0 ( +1 / -1 )

it was installed for ventilation by the architect.

I am speechless, only in a comedy movie I thought that was possible....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNY8eN3wNXs&t=4m25s

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Another case of poor safety procedures in Japanese construction. Someone owes the family a lot of money - shame nobody can be proven liable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is gross negligence resulting in a preventable tragedy. Even not being intoxicated, anyone could have made the same mistake and the "safety bar" may be fairly low or high depending on one's height. She could have just been curious, looking for toilet paper, disoriented, etc. and went over/under it thinking something was inside. There are a myriad of possibilities, but, still, the shop owners are extremely liable in this woman's death as I don't think this is a suicide. RIP.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This story reads like a Looney Tunes cartoon with an Acme door.

Just negligent. Did Aneha make this building?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sue the restaurant and the building's owner. They both are at fault here. When making a restaurant or store the place is transformed to meet their needs. They had money for the front and back of the house but didn't care much about a door to death in the restroom.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The swimming pool I use is on the 9th floor and has sliding glass windows half the size of a regular door and they all are at at the floor level. And the floor is always wet.

The same building has stores from the first to the 8th floor. The stores close at 9pm and the restaurants on the B1 floor at 11pm. From 9pm to 11pm the only access to the B1 floor is an elevator. The emergency exit (stairs) is locked by the security guards. I tried reasoning with the building management and security but they told me that in case of a big emergency (coz Japan doesn't have any earthquakes) the security guards would run from their office on the first floor way on the other side of the building to unlock the emergency exit so people can use it to get out without using the elevator. Does that make any sense?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Eventually the women had the door pried open but found the room empty. They then noticed another door – outside of which was absolutely nothing besides a sheer drop to the ground below – left open.

If John Dickson Carr (specialist in locked-room mysteries) were alive, he'd definitely get a story out of this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

More liked pushed.

More like hard time with reading comprehension, locked door, from the inside, alone......

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Knowing that buildings are frequently inspected by the fire department, I wonder how they managed to pass for so many years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

there is no question about it , building owner is responsible for the safety of the space he rents. It should have been obvious that this false door was a door to potential fall and death and all tenants should have been advised in writing about it. Possibility that the person was drunk or tired is a shameful cheap excuse in this case.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

One of my neighbors in Tokyo have something similar to that at his home. He has a 3 three story house (not a building), and on the the top floor I can see there is a door without a landing. I am quite sure if you step out, you will fall straight down on top of his property fence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I totally agree it is absolutely the responsibility of the construction firm and bldg. management knowingly leasing to tenants. They were to install iron gates at every single door from the second floor on up.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

this false door was a door to potential fall and death and all tenants should have been advised in writing about it.

And you know they weren't... how?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As you Can tell from some of the comments, this is actually a very common design feature on Japanese buildings. Even the A club on yokosuka base has a door to nowhere on the 2nd or 3rd floor. Completely idiotic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I highly doubt this was a suicide this stupid restaurant and building should all be close down rest in peace poor young lady!!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

From the graphic, the ventilation door doesn't look much like the restroom exit door. Maybe she leaned out for a look or for fresh air, got surprised or vertigo, and overbalanced.

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH1F5FB1H1FUTIL04C.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

safety checks by responsible bureaus seem to be very lax in Japan. From where I come they are extremely strict with such matters. With all my fascination about the exotic architecture of buildings in Tokyo, sometimes they are hair-raisingly absurd, like this door for air ventilation. Being drunk, this accident could have happened to anyone of us.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A gust of wind would have pulled the door open forcefully and pulled her out along with it. Possible she wasn't confused about which door was which but rather just curious to see what's behind that strange door.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Knowing that buildings are frequently inspected by the fire department, I wonder how they managed to pass for so many years.

If you have lived in Japan for any length of time and worked for a Japanese employer, you will know that such inspections are carried out on a day when everything is in perfect order, the business owners having had weeks of prior notice. After the inspectors have gone, it's back to the normal shoddy practices....

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Knowing that buildings are frequently inspected by the fire department, I wonder how they managed to pass for so many years.

Of all the hundreds of thousands if not millions of buildings here in Japan I am going to tell you that this is blatantly not true.

Possibly the one's you are in are inspected but keep in mind as well, just because you see the Fire Department come for an evacuation drill/practice does NOT mean they are inspecting the building at the same time.

If you have lived in Japan for any length of time and worked for a Japanese employer, you will know that such inspections are carried out on a day when everything is in perfect order, the business owners having had weeks of prior notice. After the inspectors have gone, it's back to the normal shoddy practices....

True, true, and even places that are not following the building code manage to "pass" as well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What kind of person puts a door to the OUTSIDE on the 9TH FLOOR?

I know of a few buildings like this in my area. Not as high as the 9th, but the 3rd and 4th floors.

I asked about it, and it was for emergency access in case of a fire.

If that's the case, it needs to be clearly not openable by accident like a regular door might be!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What the f... why is there a door opening to nothing but a sheer drop? I can't imagine an emergency exit as the gap outside the door is only a metre. It's mad. RIP poor confused woman.

Architect should be quizzed about this... ventilation? Ever heard of extractor fans? Small opening windows too high up to climb out of? Bloody idiot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is negligence from restaurant owner and the building owner. The door could easily be opened from inside the bathroom and who knows what can happens next to other victims?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the building and the shop need to be named so the people are aware of the risks to their lives going there and boycott them for the death of this poor young woman. They don't deserve to run a business

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if the "door" was made of glass, it would be thought differently, about a "door to nowhere"

As for the article, it was the design of putting the restroom in that part that was wrong, the entire building has those doors, and only the restroom was there.

Either way, it was the responsibility of the owner of the establishment, the one who decide to put a restroom in that part, to secure safely that door either by putting secure locks on the door (it was not a escape door) or more bars to stopping a body to pass through.

I think this was an accident, nevertheless, there are people that must be held responsible

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can understand being to drunk to remember stepping down 35cm into a bathroom when you came in, but this does not explain the safety bar. Why is it written in quotes here?

It was probably in quotes because it wasn't very safe after all, ne?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I actually saw someone do something similar also in a bar in Shinjuku. There are tall window designed that look like door. Three floors and across from my group, up a guy who was pretty drunk got up - they think to go to the toilet - just opened the 'door' and stepped out before anyone could do anything. The poor woman may have been disoriented because she was drunk, or opened the window a bit but over balanced and out she went, but the issue is, why such 'doors' anywhere about ground level and why not a simple mechanism that only allows them to open a few centimeters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I draw buildings for a living, and while you see lots of oddities in buildings, especially in dense urban areas, I can guarantee you we'd never put an opening going from the floor without some kind of platform on the outside, locks or not. The ventilation excuse sounds completely implausible since ventilation is done with vents and ducts and there are laws requiring buildings to be properly ventilated without opening doors and windows (which this door would be considered). Ultimately every building design requires approval by the Veritas though and I'm unsure where the responsibility lies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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