Connect with us

Economy & Tech

Innovative Water-Recycling Showers Bring Relief to Evacuees After Earthquake

The shower facilities recycle over 98% of used water and monitor its quality using an AI system, enabling 100 people to shower with only 100 liters of water.



WOTA's shower facilities come with tents for showering and changing clothes. Two have been set up in an evacuation shelter in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture. January 5. (©Sankei by Shinji Ono)

Shower facilities that recycle water are proving highly successful at evacuation centers in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture. Tremors of maximum seismic intensity 6+ from the recent Noto Peninsula earthquake shook the city, cutting off its water supply. 

Set up in four locations, the portable showers have allowed many evacuees to shower for the first time since the disaster. By January 5, several hundred people had used the facilities. The service continued to operate in the city until January 9. Volunteers running the service said they would be happy to go to other areas facing water outages if requested. These showers were developed by the Tokyo-based venture WOTA, whose founder conceived the idea after experiencing the 2007 Noto Peninsula earthquake.

The facilities are equipped with five filters that enable over 98% of the shower water to be recycled. (©Sankei by Shinji Ono)

'A Big Difference'

"It was so warm and felt so good. It makes a big difference having access to a shower," beamed fourteen-year-old Yua Kozaki on January 5. She hadn't showered since New Year's Eve. Kozaki is one of approximately 200 people sheltering at Nanao's Wakura Elementary School. 

On the afternoon of January 5, volunteers installed two showers in the school. These showers reuse water from the school's pool. Evacuees took hot showers for 10 to 15 minutes each, using the body soap and shampoo provided, and looked refreshed after. Upon discovering the showers, several female evacuees rushed home to get their bathing kits. 

The showers were set up at Wakura Elementary School. Its gymnasium has been converted into an evacuation shelter. (©Sankei by Shinji Ono)

Over 98% of Water Recycled

WOTA's showers feature a water circulation system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor water quality. In addition, they also come with tents for showering and changing clothes, water tanks, and water heaters. The shower's central component consists of five filters, which allow over 98% of the shower water to be reused. With 100 liters of water, 100 people can take a shower.

Touring the evacuation centers of Nanao is Hatch PLANNING, an event planning company based in Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka City, that works with WOTA. "We feel the response has been very positive," said Ken Kakihana, Representative Director of Hatch PLANNING. He also stated, "If there is a demand, we would like to go to other areas suffering from water outages."

WOTA provided hot showers at the evacuation shelter, where the water supply was cut off. (©Sankei by Shinji Ono)

According to WOTA, the company mass-produced the showers after introducing them during the torrential rains in western Japan in 2018. WOTA has provided showers to a total of more than 20,000 people. Its showers have helped people in areas affected by heavy rains in Akita in 2023. WOTA also brought its showers to Turkey after the country suffered a major earthquake the same year.

Company founder and former CEO Riki Kitagawa is from Ishikawa Prefecture. When the Noto earthquake hit Anamizu in 2007, he experienced the inconvenience of water outages. This led him to start a business with a colleague he met at the University of Tokyo's graduate school. Kitagawa, who is now based in Kanazawa, said, "I'm glad [the showers] seem to be helping."


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Shinji Ono


Our Partners