September 18, 2020
Tokyo gets see-through public toilets people can inspect for cleanliness

Tokyo gets see-through public toilets people can inspect for cleanliness


The new see-through public toilet in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park looks like a colorful work of modern art.

Satoshi Nagare/The Nippon Foundation

Public bathrooms aren’t always the cleanest places to do your business. But Japan, a country known for its innovative toilets, wants to change the perception that public toilets are “dark, dirty, smelly and scary” by installing new transparent toilets in Tokyo.

The toilets are built using “smart glass” that’s designed to let users see inside to check that they’re clean and no one is lurking inside before using them. Once someone enters the bathroom and locks the door, the glass instantly turns opaque for complete privacy.

The Nippon Foundation launched The Tokyo Toilet Project to renovate 17 public toilets located in the city’s trendy Shibuya area.

“These public toilets are being designed by 16 leading creators and will use advanced design to make them accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age or disability, to demonstrate the possibilities of an inclusive society,” according to The Nippon Foundation’s website.


The glass of the outer walls becomes opaque when the lock is closed.

Satoshi Nagare/The Nippon Foundation

Some of the new toilets are constructed with colored smart glass to give users a chance to look at the toilets before using them.

On the flip side, other public toilets in the Shibuya area, like the ones in Ebisu Park, are designed to give the “appearance and atmosphere of primitive kawaya,” according to its design proposal, “kawaya” being the equivalent of a toilet in the Neolithic times, a hut that was made from hardened soil or pieces of wood bound together. “We built an ‘ambiguous space’ that is simultaneously an object and a toilet by randomly combining 15 concrete walls.”

All of the new bathrooms will have ongoing maintenance and professional toilet inspectors will periodically survey them to ensure the best user experience.

The new toilets already in operation can be found at Ebisu Park, Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park, Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park, Ebisu East Park and Ebisu Station.

More of the innovative public toilets will debut at Nishihara Itchome Park and Jingu-Dori Park, with the remainder scheduled for completion by the spring of 2021.

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