Two colorful public toilets have been installed in parks in Tokyo, Japan that are completely see-through when idle, but become frosted and opaque when in use. The ultramodern installations are part of a design project that sees artists and architects creating bespoke, innovative and interesting toilets that fascinate and thrill the public across the neighbourhood of Shibuya.

Designed by Shigeru Ban architects as part of the Tokyo Toilet project, the two futuristic facilities are in place at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park. With vibrant reds, oranges and purples and well as blues and greens, the toilets are eye-catching and quirky, and are well-lit and see-through when empty. The outer walls have been built from a special glass that instantly becomes opaque when the key is turned, granting privacy to the user. As well as being a fun public facility, the toilet serves a secondary function of creating ambience as the sun goes down. “At night, it becomes a toilet that lights up the park like a beautiful paper lantern,” the architecture firm said.

Toilet Tokyo
The facilities go opaque when in use © Satoshi Nagare provided by The Nippon Foundation

The Tokyo Toilet project has seen 16 creators coming up with ideas for 17 public toilets for the Shibuya area. The first three toilets opened up for use to the public at the start of August, with the third being flanked by a series of concrete walls installed with bright lights in Ebisu Park. 

Tokyo Toilet
The Tokyo Toilet project sees a series of designers creating unique public toilets in Tokyo © Satoshi Nagare provided by The Nippon Foundation

“Japan is known as one of the cleanest countries in the world. Even public toilets have a higher standard of hygiene than in much of the rest of the world. However, the use of public toilets in Japan is limited because of stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly, and scary. To dispel these misconceptions regarding public toilets, the Nippon Foundation has decided to renovate public toilets in Shibuya. In addition to the construction, we have arranged for ongoing maintenance so that people will feel comfortable using these public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality for the next person,” the Nippon Foundation said. 

A map of the toilets has been made available on the official Tokyo Toilet project website.

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