Japan Deploys See-Through Loos

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Photo credit: Satoshi Nagare via the  Nippon Foundation

When doing your do, for most of us, privacy tends to be top on the comfort zone list. 

With a jaw dropping design for public toilets, Japan looks to be eschewing that criterion with fully transparent bathrooms in the middle of a park. 

Peeping Tom heaven? 

Not if you remember to lock the door. And then omotenashi! Full privacy as the walls turn opaque.

"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," writes CNN Travel after seeing the loos in action.

A “thrill” isn’t necessarily what some of us would experience. 

Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, the see-through loos installed in Shibuya parks are part of an innovative project aimed at changing people's perceptions of public toilets.

"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."

The transparent design tackles these two concerns by offering a toilet with glass walls that -- at first -- allows the public to see through from the outside. 

"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 two transparent toilet sets are a part of the Tokyo Toilet Project by the Nippon Foundation, a series of re-invented public toilet facilities. The project was originally supposed to coincide with thepostponed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to help the country show visitors omotenashi – the symbol of Japanese hospitality. 

The 17 new toilet designs taking part in the project aim to break the "dark, dirty, smelly and scary" stereotype of public washrooms, and demonstrate inclusivity "regardless of gender, age or disability," according to the Nippon Foundation.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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