I’ve visited a handful of toilet-themed restaurants over the years, including T-Bowl Concept Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and Poop Cafe in Toronto, but I’ve always wanted to visit the original, Taiwan’s Modern Toilet. Self-described as a “scatological fantasyland”, Modern Toilet is where this whole crazy idea first began with its initial concept dating all the way back to 2004!
I chose to visit their location at Xining South Road in Taipei’s Wanhua district. It’s impossible to miss the entrance – the first thing you notice as you stroll towards it is the monumental loo towering over the street below. There’s a giant poop-shaped cardboard cutout in the lobby along with a couple of display toilets which perfectly sets the scene for the upstairs dining room.
Once upstairs, the server sits you onto a toilet seat at a 💩-filled basin, hands you a menu in the shape of a toilet seat and brings out your food in little toilet/urinal-shaped bowls. It’s hilarious! I ordered the Toilet Chicken Nuggets and the Toilet #1 Ice Shavings (chocolate ice made to look like diarrhea and served in a mini squat toilet), as well as a drink with the grotesque name of bleeding haemorrhoid strawberry milk. Being a novelty establishment the food tasted expectedly ordinary but the servings were large and they were humorously well-presented.
The decor appearing throughout the three-storey interior is of course all toilet-themed, from the pictures on the wall to the merchandise area to the cute little urinals dotted around the walls with plush toys sitting inside.
The actual toilet on the top floor is quite a sight to behold with the bright blue tiling creating a water-like effect. I also loved that the washbasin on the outside was in the shape of a toilet as well!
It’s easy to get grossed out by the idea of the toilet restaurant but in reality it’s actually surprisingly clean, colourful, entertaining and very family-friendly. Kids will surely get a laugh out of it, as will curious/fun-loving adults. As for people like me who take photos of toilets as a hobby: this place is heaven. 😍🚽
I’m very glad I finally got the opportunity to visit Modern Toilet. I wish them the best of success and hope the resto-restroom theme continues to catch on across the world!!
Watch Toilography’s video from the Qianyue building
Before I left for Taiwan I had a great recommendation via Reddit to visit the abandoned Qianyue building (千越大樓) in downtown Taichung. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it there because it was 150km away from where I was staying in Tainan, but I knew I had to visit after scrolling through the incredible photos taken by Alexander Synaptic of Synapticism. I learnt it was a multi-level residential/commercial building constructed in the 70’s and heavily used in the two following decades, before a fire on the 7th floor led to its eventual abandonment. I’m fascinated by abandoned places and had my fingers crossed that there would be some old disused toilets among the ruins.
And so it was that my friend Vanessa and I hopped on a train to Taichung for a daytrip. It was only a short walk from the train station and I was surprised at how easily accessible the building was despite the level of disrepair it’s in today. Admittedly we were a little creeped out by the dark, dingy stairwells and decrepit, unusable rooms that branched out at every floor:
Eventually we made our way to the open, slightly less-sketchy rooftop, where along with a handful of other curious tourists & locals alike, we marvelled at the beautiful views of the city below and the once-grandiose UFO Tower:
I walked into the lower floor of the tower which mostly likely once housed a bar or kitchen – and just off to the right was the pièce de résistance: the rooftop bathroom. The toilet was barely recognisable thanks to years of wear & tear but its badly broken base was still bolted in I couldn’t help but imagine how view from this loo would have looked back it its heyday. Surely this was once Taichung’s ultimate restroom?
I explored the UFO Tower a little more (almost falling through a giant hole in the floor at the top of the staircase!) when I realised that just around the corner from the loo with the view, behind a rather menacing portrait of a Storm Trooper and friends, was a whole other family of abandoned thrones. It was pitch black inside this restroom but my camera flash brought to light some intact toilets which have stood the test of time. I certainly hoped they weren’t still in use. I can’t imagine the plumbing up here was in top shape, and I wasn’t game to try it out.
We stayed at the rooftop taking in the ambience for over an hour before we slowly made our way downstairs again. Lo and behold, about three floors below, adjacent to a weedy garden on a second, smaller rooftop, we stumbled across yet another lonely loo. He was missing his cistern and seat but the bowl was thankfully still in satisfactory condition:
And so concluded our incredible self-guided tour of the Qianyue building. In all my years of travel, I’d go as far as to put this building in my top 10 places I’ve ever seen. It may not be for everyone, but there’s something incredibly evocative about exploring abandoned sites like this. I can’t help but wonder how this building would have appeared 20 years ago at the peak of its commercial use and I’m equally fascinated at how its current state highlights underground culture so well.
Here are a few more non-toilet pics I took of this Taichung establishment:
Through the magic of the internet I was able to connect with @atomicplayboy this morning at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in the St Louis Science centre, who very kindly took me on a personal tour of their space toilet! 🚀🚽 I’ve seen a lot of loos in my life but never had any clue until today of the sit down – strap in – suction up process involved in celestial waste.
And for any fellow science geeks out there, here’s the information on how the toilet actually works:
Passing body wastes in space is no different than on the ground. In Earth’s gravity, waste materials fall away from the body and the force of moving water flushes them away. Space toilets operate in a similar way, but gentle suction and moving air take the place of gravity and draw the waste materials away from the body and into the storage containers.
In microgravity everything floats. It is important to contain all waste materials. Astronauts are very careful to maintain a good seal with the toilet seat and urinal hose. The straps, bars and handles are to assist users and hold them in place.
On a space station, wastewater is processed for reuse. The air is filtered to remove odor and bacteria then returned to the station’s air supply. Solid waste is returned to the earth for disposal.
Fascinating stuff, thanks again Michael!
I went to try the virtual gaming rooms at House Of VR and was very happily surprised to see their glow in the dark toilet! Toronto people, ya gotta check this place out.
Ladies and gentleman, let me present to you the Holy Grail of toilets! 🏆🚽
Entitled ‘America’ (2016), it’s a fully functional & usable 18 karat gold throne by artist Maurizio Cattelan on display at New York’s Guggenheim museum. This incredible piece had been #1 on my toilet bucket list since I first hear about it around a year ago – finally on a weekend trip to the Big Apple I had my chance.
According to the blurb in the museum guidebook: “This work makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent. Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”
It doesn’t get much better than this. If you happen to be in NYC it’s absolutely worth a visit! 😁
On the way back to the train station I managed to duck into Ottobar for a quick peek at their impressive floor-to-ceiling graffitied restrooms. Now this is a cool room to relieve yourself in.
Thanks Baltimore for the stupendous shitters – I really wish I had more time to spend here, one day wasn’t enough. I might be back one day…
One of my favourite Washington DC restroom suggestions from Reddit was for Jaleo, an inner-city Spanish tapas restaurant where you have your own cheer squad as you go about your business. Such fantastic toilet art – a truly novel idea. Plus the food here was second-to-none 😀