Tokyo installs transparent public toilets in parks that turn opaque when in use

The idea of using a public toilet with see-through walls may sound like a “bizarre” concept, but one of Japan’s most innovative architects has done just that. Japan is giving park-goers the chance, with imaginative new transparent public restrooms courtesy of the Tokyo Toilet Project, a Nippon Foundation initiative supported by the local government. The clear glass box clouds over when users lock the door, giving them privacy, the group promises. The design by Japan’s architect Shigeru Ban aims to tackle the reputation of uncleanliness that often goes hand-in-hand with the facilities. The transparent bathrooms are part of an initiative by the non-profit Nippon Foundation called the “The Tokyo Toilet Project,” which aims to make public toilets welcoming and accessible to everyone by allowing people to peek inside it before entering.

The toilets are built using “smart glass” which is designed to let people peek inside to check if its clean and that 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. “At night, the facility lights up the park like a beautiful lantern,” the architect’s website says. The Nippon Foundation is redesigning 17 public toilets in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s busiest districts. Ban’s public bathrooms opened to the public earlier this month in two parks: Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park and are already attracting visitors who are eager to see how they work. The futuristic facilities were originally timed to debut during the now-postponed Summer Olympics.