Kanagawa City’s Plan to Publicize Convenience Store Restrooms Stinks, Owners Think

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Yamato City, Kanagawa Prefecture has a problem. There are not enough public toilets.

That’s the conclusion the city government has come to after comparing its roughly 242,000 residents to its 46 public toilets, mostly in train stations and parks. This number of public restrooms has remained more or less the same for the past 20 years, but while the city thinks more is needed, it is concerned about the price, as it estimates that building new public restrooms would cost , at the very least, several million yen.

But then city planners took a look at another number that gave them hope: 110. That’s the approximate number of convenience stores in Yamato, and so the city government’s new plan is to transform the toilets of these stores into public toilets.

▼ As part of the initiative, convenience stores display a sticker at their entrance indicating that their washrooms are open to the public.

Photo: Yamato City

Participation in the program is optional, and Yamato began recruiting interested stores in February. However, while those behind the plan apparently think it’s a great idea, store owners aren’t as enthusiastic about it. Currently, only seven of the city’s 110 convenience stores have signed on as partners, and with three of them run by the same person, that’s a maximum of five owners who are willing to serve as public restrooms.

It’s not hard to see why so many people are reluctant. For starters, the only compensation participating stores receive for their civic contribution is 200 rolls of free toilet paper from the city, split into two packs of 100 rolls each over the course of a year. Extra cleaning products or the time needed to keep the toilet clean despite increased use? It’s all about the store and its staff. “It should be cleaned morning, noon and night. It would break us,” said one owner declining to participate.

There’s also the unpleasant mental image of having a public restroom directly attached to your store or, from another perspective, having your store attached to a public restroom. With Japan’s high societal value on cleanliness, buying bento boxes, rice balls, bottled tea and other things to put in your mouth near an all-purpose toilet is not not particularly pleasant. proposal. 200 rolls of free toilet paper won’t be seen by most owners as enough economic benefit for shop owners worried about losing customers to one of their dozens of competitors in town who don’t have toilets public on their premises.

But perhaps the weirdest part of the plan is that most convenience stores in Japan already allow visitors to use their restrooms. Technically they’re for customers, and good manners say you should ask a member of staff if it’s OK before using them, but in general convenience stores are happy to accommodate such requests (the stores in bar districts are common exceptions to this, but that’s not much of a problem in Yamato, which isn’t exactly a party town). Completing the “for clients” portion of the arrangement is also quite easy. Most stores will consider you a customer as long as you legitimately view their wares, whether you end up buying something or not. Even if you personally feel obligated to buy something as a thank you for being allowed to use the restroom, every convenience store in Japan offers soft drinks, mints, candies and other non-alcoholic goods. perishables for around 100 yen, and buying one is enough to keep everyone happy.

So, in a sense, Yamato’s convenience store toilets already work quite closely with public toilets, so it’s understandable that they’re in no rush to shrink this company further. For its part, the Yamato city government still hopes to convince 50 stores to participate in the poop partnership by spring next year, but given the slow start, they may end up having to throw the plan off the hook. sewers.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin, Yamato City, Amazon Japan

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