News & Opinion | August 18, 2020 10:23 am

Tokyo Has Installed Transparent Public Bathrooms in Its Parks

The idea is to allow users to check if anyone's inside

Transparent public bathrooms in Tokyo.
Transparent public bathrooms in Tokyo.

Public bathrooms maybe aren’t on the top of your list of “things we should make see-through,” but here we are: Shigeru Ban Architects, a Pritzker Prize-winning architecture firm, has designed two new sets of transparent public toilets that have been installed in parks in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

If you’re concerned about doing your business while on display, don’t worry: the restrooms in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park are made of a “smart glass” that turns opaque when the stall doors are locked.

“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” according to a statement on the project’s official website, Tokyotoilet.jp. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside. This allows users to check the cleanliness and whether anyone is using the toilet from the outside. At night, the facility lights up the park like a beautiful lantern.”

The transparent bathrooms are part of a broader project to reimagine public facilities called the Tokyo Toilet Project, founded by a non-profit organization called the Nippon Foundation.

“The use of public toilets in Japan is limited because of stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly and scary,” the foundation explained in a press release. “To dispel these misconceptions regarding public toilets, The Nippon Foundation has decided to renovate 17 public toilets located in Shibuya, Tokyo, in cooperation with the Shibuya City government.”

You can check out a video demonstration of the transparent toilets below.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.