Rest Area & Bio (composting) toilet next to the second chain of Mt.Ishizuchi
Message of the Week
Amid the hustle and bustle of a busy station, he was heading for his destination at a rather quick pace.
It was back in the 1970s; he was enjoying his University life in Tokyo. Though he had just moved to this mega city several months ago, going through culture shock, both big and small, he was settling into to his new environment and starting to find his new life rather enjoyable. This is what happened to him one of these days: he was weaving his way through a crowd desperately searching for a sign, which is the only one thing that he needed at that moment...yes, what he was searching for was a toilet sign!! It was quite rare that he was that desperate in this respect all through his life so far, but as a young gentleman just under 20 years old, he had to avoid making a grave "blunder" in public. He was expected to deal with everything properly, calmly and gracefully to the very end.
There it is! Finally he found what he needed, but the moment he had a closer look, he gasped with surprise. "What!? Pay toilet???" OMG! Do I have to pay to use a toilet at a train station in Japan???
He was really, really in hurry but he decided NOT to use that pay toilet. As is often the case with financially challenged students, he thought he would rather have a bowl of soba noodle at the noodle bar by saving the coins that he had to pay for toilet. Gathering his courage, he started to run in search of "free" toilet.
Finally he found the toilet that could be used without worrying about coins...he entered the door to find that there were five rooms in which he would achieve the goal. Unfortunately, however, in front of each room were waiting a couple of people in queue. Oh, no...no more time or energy was left for him. He kept clam (as much as possible) and joined the queue. He imagined that there would not have been any queues like these at that pay toilet and he understood everything: why the pay one was located there and the free one was here and more and more people had rushed here, making this small room devastatingly crowded...it was too late even if he realized the importance of the pay toilet. Eliminating all these thoughts, he moved towards the door little by little and finally he stood in front of the door! Now it was his turn and he would be free from everything very soon!
Alrighty, then! He shouted in his mind and raised his fist in victory in his mind again paying attention NOT to put too much pressure on his abdomen. He could hear the guy who had been in front of him in the queue fastening his belt after his big deal. Soon, very soon...he told himself...at that moment, he heard the sound of coins falling on the floor of the small room in front of him! Come on! Please, please collect them ASAP!! All he could do was pray. After a brief interval, the door was opened and he entered the small room calmly and gracefully and achieved the goal as a gentleman.
...decades later, as a Director and Secretary General of a certain NPO, he actively worked for setting up a composting toilet, "Bio Toilet" next to the second chain (Ni-no kusari moto) of Mt. Ishizuchi based upon public-private partnership. In autumn 2014, a composting toilet and rest area were set by Ehime prefecture. And now, in order to keep it "the most beautiful toilet of the mountain trail in Japan", volunteer staff are climbing up and down the mountain all through the year for cleaning up and thorough maintenance. Since the establishment of this composting toilet, the number of climbers who relieve themselves just around the trails drastically decreased, which greatly contributed to climbers' safety and conservation of vegetation.
Just for your information, used toilet paper, which is not biologically decomposed, is carefully sorted by users and collected and carried down by cleaning staff. Needless to say, we have neither roadway nor electricity and very little water on the mountains; which means all the cleaning must be done manually. We just cannot thank and respect the volunteer staff enough. And last but not least, for maintenance of this toilet, users are expected to donate 100 yen or use (more than) 1 voucher per person. The voucher (12 for 1,000 yen) can be purchased at the starting point of a trail or the mountain top.
...Conclusion! "The pay toilet has the raison d'être."
(Trust me! I'm talking from experience!)
-- Hideshi Sogabe, a.k.a Richard; Director and Secretary General of NPO Ishizuchi Mori-no-Gakko “School of the Woods” (20, August 2021)