Tokyo's latest attraction: Transparent public toilets


One of Tokyo's most popular districts has recently added some unusual new attractions: transparent public toilets.

Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, the two new sets of see-through restrooms have been installed in Shibuya, the bustling city center famous for its busy pedestrian crossing.

Though the restrooms sound risqué, they're actually part of an innovative project aimed at changing people's perceptions of public toilets.

Shigeru Ban Architects, a Pritzker Prize-winning architecture firm, the two new sets of transparent toilets have been installed in two Shibuya parks -- Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park.

"There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park," says a statement on the project's official website, Tokyotoilet.jp. "The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside."

Shigeru Ban Architects' design tackles these two concerns by offering a toilet with glass walls that -- at first -- allows the public to see through from the outside. But once a user enters the toilet and locks the door, the walls turn opaque to provide privacy.

"This allows users to check the cleanliness and whether anyone is using the toilet from the outside," says the statement. "At night, the facility lights up the park like a beautiful lantern."

The toilet facilities were impressively clean, a mix of gleaming white and chrome.

Part of the thrill is that once inside, you can't tell if the glass is frosted or not. The walls between the compartments have mirrors installed, adding to the weird feeling of being on display.
This means it's incredibly important remember to secure the door lock, which is located well below the handle.
During our visit, one person presumably did indeed forget to lock it, stirring laughter among those outside.
Both park facilities include a women's toilet, a men's toilet and a multi-use toilet.

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