Imagine being in the lift when nature calls out to you loud and clear. Now imagine itâ€™s stuck. What do you do? Do you wish there was a toilet in the elevator?
Well, if you havenâ€™t even imagined it, the Japanese have already considered it.
Yes, toilets in elevators. Why, you ask.
Apart from all its weird customs or even high tech gadgets, Japan is also known for the number of earthquakes that rock it every now and then. In fact, about 1,500 earthquakes strike the island nation every year. Minor tremors occur on a nearly daily basis. Deadly quakes are a tragic part of the nation’s past.
Japan is situated along the world’s most active earthquake belt, the Pacific Ring of Fire, where rigid plates in the Earth’s crust collide along the rim of the Pacific Ocean.
And just to face such kind of situations, Japan is looking at installing toilets in elevators and providing an emergency supply of drinking water for people trapped by the nationâ€™s frequent powerful earthquakes, an official saidÂ on Wednesday.
The move comes after dozens of people were left high and dry, some for over an hour, following a 7.8 magnitude quakeÂ on SaturdayÂ that stopped lifts.
Most of the elevators automatically halted at the nearest floor and opened their doors, but 14 were stranded between storeys.
A meeting between officials from the infrastructure ministry and elevator industry bodies agreed to look into providing toilets for use in an emergency, an official from the Association of Elevator Makers said.
These might include collapsible cardboard structures with a waterproof bag or absorbent material inside.
Some recently-installed lifts have small seating areas for Japanâ€™s growing ranks of elderly people, and installing facilities underneath these seats is one possibility.
Japan has around 620,000 elevators in public or commercial buildings nationwide, about 20 percent of which are in Tokyo.
It also sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and is regularly hit by powerful earthquakes.
The government estimates that the next â€œBig Oneâ€ â€“ a huge quake seismologists say is almost certain to hit the capital over the coming decades â€“ may leave up to 17,000 people stranded in elevators.
Saturdayâ€™sÂ quake was centred on a remote spot in the Pacific Ocean around 900 kilometres south of Tokyo, but was felt throughout the country.
Twelve people were injured, including a 56-year-old man who broke his ribs, but no one was killed, according to the Tokyo Fire Department and local media.