Would You Use These Transparent Public Toilets in Japan?
It's actually genius.
by Meryl Medel | August 21, 2020
Japan’s history has proven that they can come up with a lot of genius inventions — but also some questionable ones. The latest quirky invention may be these transparent public toilets right in the heart of Tokyo. But while you might think it impractical and strange, it’s actually quite innovative.
How do they work?
Yes, these toilets designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban are really transparent. You can look directly inside the toilet and see everything from all sides. But don’t worry — you’d still get some privacy.
When you enter and lock the door, the glass walls turn opaque, providing you with the privacy of an ordinary toilet. This is made possible through a new smart glass technology that allows the glass to turn opaque when prompted — in this case, by the door being locked.
At night, bright lights fill the space inside the toilet, lighting up its surroundings as well.
Why are they installed in the first place?
Even if Japan is hailed as one of the cleanest countries in the world, there’s still a stigma that prevents people from using public toilets, as many think they are dirty and smelly and even dark and scary. In order to break this stereotype, the non-profit organization The Nippon Foundation launched The Tokyo Toilet project to build and renovate public toilets, reinventing their image.
“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” reads a statement on Shigeru Ban’s website. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.”
Through the transparent public toilets, both of these issues are resolved. With the smart glass technology that turns the glass opaque, you can immediately tell if someone is occupying the restroom. If it’s opaque, there’s someone inside and you’d have to wait. If it’s clear, you can go inside immediately. And if you want to check the cleanliness of the toilet, you can immediately tell by just looking through the transparent glass. You don’t even have to step inside.
In addition to the transparent public toilets, there are several other designs being built by other renowned designers and architects, such as Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando, Fumihiko Maki, Kengo Kuma, Sou Fujimoto, and fashion designer Nigo.
Where can you find them?
If you want to see these transparent toilets, you just have to take a trip to Shibuya (which is most likely already in your Tokyo itinerary) because The Tokyo Toilet project is being installed all around the district. One is in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park, while the other is in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park. The two parks are just a few minutes away from each other by foot.
Would you use these transparent public toilets? Tell us below!