Awkward or awesome? Why Tokyo’s fancy new public toilets are see-through

Japan’s top designers and architects are mid-way through a wonderful project to redesign public toilets in the Tokyo suburb of Shibuya.

Most of the designs are striking for their beauty. But two Tokyo public toilets have left some foreigners scratching their heads.

That’s because Architect Shigeru Ban made them see-through.

It may be a shock at first, but it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, it’s quite clever.

The toilet glass walls frost over you step inside.

Ban explained his design on the Tokyo toilets website. (Yes, that really does exist.)

“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” Ban wrote.

“The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.”

“Using the latest technology, the exterior glass turns opaque when locked.”

“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.”

Builders completed Ban’s see-through toilets in 2020. One is in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and the other is in Haru-no-ogawa Community Park. Both get rave reviews on Google.

The other Tokyo toilets

Japanese Fashion designer Nigo designed his public toilet in Harajuku to resemble a little house.

Nigo’s Tokyo Toilet. Credit: Tokyo Toilets.

“I envisioned a toilet that feels like a good old home that stands quietly on a corner,” he said.

“The toilet may feel nostalgic to some and new to others, depending on their age and generation.”

Another Tokyo toilet to look out for is the Kozo Sato, Disruption Lab contactless toilet. The team designed this a voice-activated toilet before COVID-19 hit. And it looks like a little dumpling.

Tokyo toilets
“Hi Toilet”. Credit: Tokyo Toilets

If you’re in Tokyo Japan, this is where you can find the transparent toilets…


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