Tokyo Unveils Impressive Public Restrooms Built With ‘Smart Glass’

transparent toilet

Two public restroom locations in Shibuya, Tokyo have garnered attention for their transparent walls that appear to neglect the concept of privacy right when it’s most needed — except that they don’t, really.

The restrooms, located in the district of Tomigaya and the neighborhood of Yoyogi, are among 17 public toilets that have been renovated by The Nippon Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to “creating new frameworks for a better society and bringing about change.”

Transparent restrooms at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park. Image via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

The initiative, known as The Tokyo Toilet Project, is essentially an effort to embrace diversity, as it seeks to build restrooms that can be used by anyone.

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Designed by 16 global creators, the project utilizes advanced technologies to make the toilets “accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability, [and] to demonstrate the possibilities of an inclusive society.”

Transparent restrooms at Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park. Image via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

The transparent toilets, which opened on Aug. 5, were designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban. They are located in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park (5-68-1 Yoyogi) and the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park (1-54-1 Tomigaya).

Ban’s design features a new “smart glass” technology that turns opaque when locked. For this reason, one can rest assured that they will not be watched while doing their business.

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The glass panels become opaque when the cubicles are locked. Image via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

Construction of the toilets was completed on July 31.

“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park. The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside,” The Nippon Foundation noted. “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.”

Interior of a restroom at the Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park location. Image via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

The Tomigaya toilets come in yellow, pink and purple glass walls, while the Yoyogi toilets come in cyan, lime green and blue. Both locations have accessibility features, as well as baby chairs and ostomy facilities.

One other facility, located in Ebisu Park (1-19-1 Ebisu-Nishi) opened on Aug. 5. Designed by interior designer Masamichi Katayama, the restrooms are an “ambiguous space” that randomly combines 15 concrete walls and features a maze-like entrance.

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transparent toilet
The restrooms at Ebisu Park. Image via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

Two other locations have opened since Aug. 7. The rest remain under construction and are expected to be completed next year.

Feature Images via Satoshi Nagare / The Nippon Foundation

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