Photo/IllutrationA woman fills a plastic container with tap water from the dispenser set up in the grounds of the Tokyo International Forum convention hall in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward. (Naomi Nishimura)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Good honest Tokyo tap water. Is there really such a thing?

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government, the answer is yes, and to prove its point it set up a bulky water cooler just off the main drag of the capital's posh Ginza district to give passers-by a taste of what is on offer, chilled, of course, as the weather is getting warmer.

The device was installed outside the Tokyo International Forum convention hall in Chiyoda Ward as part of efforts to promote Tokyo’s advanced water cleaning technology in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which will inevitably draw an influx of foreign visitors.

“We want people to discard the stereotyped notion that Tokyo tap water isn't any good and realize that cheap and delicious tap water is readily available,” said a metropolitan government official.

Standing to roughly to the height of a vending machine, the water cooler dispenses H2O into containers at the push of a button. The life-giving liquid is supplied from an underground pipe and available from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.

The metropolitan government’s Bureau of Waterworks kicked off the campaign May 3, urging those passing by to give the water a try.

“Can it really be tap water?” asked a 62-year-old man from Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward, who clearly is used to drinking bottled water.

He was informed that authorities in Tokyo had introduced ozonization and biological activated carbon absorption technologies at all filtration plants and that the water “tastes even more delicious if it is further chilled.”

According to the metropolitan government, residents tend to shy away from tap water on grounds it doesn't smell right, presumably because of added chemicals to ensure it is safe to drink.

However, officials said water quality has improved drastically due to the advancement of purification technologies so that even one brewery now uses Tokyo tap water for its sake production.

Tokyo is already in the business of selling tap water in plastic bottles, arguing that resource requires only 0.2 yen (0.2 cent) per liter in processing costs and its impact on the environment is one-thousandth that of mineral water.