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Tokyo Toilet Project brings transparent bathrooms and more to the capital!

Posted on April 6, 2021

When people visit Japan, the first thing they will usually comment on is the amazing hospitality—and toilets. Japan’s near-ubiquitous use of electronic toilets, or ‘washlets’, has left the rest of the world wondering how they ever lived without one. The Tokyo Toilet project and the 16 designers involved are setting out to introduce beautifully designed public bathrooms that capture the essense of Japan’s hospitality culture. A total of 17 bathrooms (seven of which have already been erected) are due to be installed across Shibuya by the end of 2021.

Shigeru Ban's transparent bathrooms

photo by @pattydonello

The bathroom that has received the most attention on social media has been award-winning architect Shigeru Ban’s transparent bathrooms in two Shibuya parks, Haru no Ogawa Community Park and Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park. Perhaps people have been drawn in by the intrigue of the contradictory concept of a bathroom with glass walls. But rest assured, the walls turn opaque as soon as the doors are locked!

Shigeru Ban's transparent bathrooms 2

photo by @yuragi.co

When designing the bathrooms, Ban wanted to create a bathroom that was clean and inviting, contrary to the ones we often find in parks. Being able to see inside to the toilets, we can feel assured that the bathroom has been properly sanitized. There are also yellow braille blocks that pave the way up to the toilet door.

Shigeru Ban's transparent bathrooms at night

photo by @yuragi.co

The bathrooms shine brightly throughout the night. You’ll never get lost finding the toilet in this park!

transparent bathroom with man inside

photo by @tetsunett

Look, the walls really are transparent!

transparent bathroom turns opaque

photo by @tetsunett

But upon locking the door, the transparent walls will turn to full opacity, leaving the user in a state of complete privacy.

Engawa inspired bathroom

photo by @city_shibuya_official

Aside from the jaw-dropping transparent bathrooms, the Tokyo Toilet project has also introduced other creatively designed bathrooms by various designers from around the world. This engawainspired public bathroom by Tadao Ando opened in Jingu-dori Park, Shibuya in September 2020. The traditional meaning of ‘engawa’ is a veranda, or strip of wood along the edges of a house separating inside from outside. The engawa here can be seen as the circular area surrounding the bathroom. It’s an ingenius idea to bring it to a public bathroom, providing a sense of privacy and homely comfort to a space that is otherwise so far removed from home.

origata inspired bathroom

photo by @city_shibuya_official

 

After spending many years in New York, designer Nao Tamura created this bathroom in Higashi Sanchome with the city’s multicultural spirit in mind. Influenced by the concept of ‘origata,’ giving gifts wrapped in Japanese paper, Tamura wanted to bring this same sense of multicultural acceptance that she witnessed in New York back to the people who come to visit her home country by offering a safe space.

 

To see more of the bathrooms, visit the Tokyo Toilet project website here.

*All bathrooms in the project are wheelchair accessible.

 

Written by: Maya Kimura Watts

 

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