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Driver Smashes Into 15th-Century Communal Restroom in Japan

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A Toyota WiLL Vi and a WiLL Vi-sized hole in the door of a 15th-century Japanese communal toilet

A Toyota WiLL Vi and a WiLL Vi-sized hole in the door of a 15th-century Japanese communal toilet
Photo: Kyoto Prefectural Board of Education

We’ve all had minor accidents in our cars. We generally accept that other people will make a mistake at some point in their driving lives. They’ll scratch a wheel rim on a curb or lightly bump against another car while parallel parking. However, once speeds increase and the risk becomes more significant, our tolerance for reckless mistakes vanishes. If someone sinks to a level where they could crash through the front of a donut shop, I hope they face harsh consequences. What about smashing into a communal restroom built in the 15th century?

Yesterday, a driver accidentally reversed their Toyota WiLL Vi through the doors of the communal restroom at the Tofukuji Buddhist temple. The temple was established in 1236. According to the BBC, the communal toilets were constructed during the first half of the Muromachi period, roughly 700 years ago. The latrine for the temple’s trainee monks consists of stone rows with holes carved through. The restroom was still in use as late as the Meija Era, which ended in 1921.

The driver of Toyota WiLL Vi, coincidentally, was an employee of the Kyoto Heritage Preservation Association, visiting the historic site on business. The Guardian reported that the driver “mistakenly accelerated while the vehicle was in reverse.” The subcompact ran straight back through seven-foot-tall wooden double doors. Some of the structure’s internal columns were damaged, but the stone toilets weren’t harmed in the incident.

Thankfully, the damage can be repaired. Toshio Ishikawa, the temple’s research institute director, said, “We’d like to restore it before the autumn foliage season, but it will probably take until the new year [to repair it].” Honestly, I would desperately need a toilet if I ever accidentally damaged anything this historically significant.

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