Inclusive Toilets for All: Maximizing Comfort, Safety and Happiness

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Inclusive Toilets for All: Maximizing Comfort, Safety and Happiness with Junko Kobayashi, PhD, Chairperson of the Japan Toilet Association

About this Event

Until the early 1980s, many public toilets in Japan were minimally equipped with only the necessary basic fixtures. They were dirty, dimly lit and smelly, with insufficient cleaning. At that time, many public toilets were called 4K (Kurai, Kowai, Kitanai, Kusai in Japanese) meaning “Dark, Scary, Filthy, Smelly” and were hence unappealing to all.

The underlying reasons that motivated their transition from that time to the current state as a global benchmark are threefold:

  • A few decades after the end of World War 2, the economy was recovering. The next step was to build comfortable and high quality products to meet individuals' needs. In other words, it was a time when the goal was to fulfill the satisfaction of all citizens.
  • Owing to the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for Men & Women in 1985, which increased women's participation in all aspects of society, there was an elevated demand by women for inclusive toilets as a necessity.
  • With the rapidly growing aging population, in 2000, the Law Concerning the Facilitation of Movement for the Elderly and the Disabled was enacted. The law required that public toilet facilities be usable by the elderly, people with disabilities, and parents with children, solidifying the case for inclusive toilets that were usable by all.

In this talk, Dr. Kobayashi will present examples of her work as well as her process of creating inclusive designs. IHCD Executive Director Valerie Fletcher will then interview her, followed by a Q&A open to all event participants. IHCD is extremely grateful for the support and assistance provided by Dr. Nat Hosono.

Please note: In order to facilitate this event at a time that works for Dr. Kobayashi and the translators for the event based in Japan, as well as our audiences around the world, it will begin at 9:30 a.m. EST, instead of the usual noon EST.

Closed captioning will be provided.

About the Speaker

Junko Kobayashi, PhD | Chairperson, Japan Toilet Association | CEO, Gondola Design Office, Tokyo

Dr. Kobayashi has a distinguished career of 32 years, having designed numerous inclusive public toilets in over 250 locations. Her designs are built on the foundation that the toilets must be safe, clean, and easy to use for everyone, while equipping users with a sense of comfort.

Gondola's work spans public toilet designs for various spaces, such as shopping centers, train stations, parks, schools, and hospitals. In recent years, their activities have expanded from solely toilet design to the design of whole facilities, town planning, and similar endeavors.

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