It’s a universally held opinion that public toilets are often gross and rather grim places, that’d you’d only opt to use if you had no other option. In Japan, many people who hold the same opinion can usually sum up their feelings with one of, if not a combination of the 4 K’s; Kurai, Kitanai, Kusai, and Kowai. Meaning; Dark, Dirty, Smelly & Scary. 

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In a bid to change the status quo, The Nippon Foundation has dreamt up the Tokyo Toilet Project. The Tokyo Toilet Project plans to renovate 17 public toilets located in Shibuya, installing the world’s first transparent toilets, designed by Shigeru Ban, a highly-acclaimed Japanese architect.

A highly-acclaimed Japanese Architect, Shigeru Ban

The Tokyo Toilet Project aims to make the public toilets easily accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability. All of this is with a goal in mind, to demonstrate the possibilities of a more inclusive society.

The Nippon Foundation aims to make a more inclusive society via the Tokyo Toilet Project.

August 5th, 2020, marked the official opening of the first several of these bathrooms. There was certainly no shortage of local news crews to cover the story. We have got a few questions answered by Hayato Hanaoka, the Manager of the Tokyo Toilet Project.

Project Manager Hanaoka explains the rationale behind these transparent toilets

What went into designing these transparent toilets?

Hanaoka: The goal of this toilet is to reduce anxiety when you use the toilet. Because these toilets are transparent, people can tell if the inside is dirty or anyone is inside before entering. The designer Shigeru Ban wants people to feel ‘safe’ when using them.

Toilet Cubicles in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park

How did you come up with the colors?

Hanaoka: There are six of these toilet cubicles (three each in two parks), and the colors are chosen to match the parks’ scenery.

In fact, just a short walk from the first bathroom in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park is the  Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park, which is home to a similar facility, albeit sporting different colors to better match the surroundings.

Cubicles in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park have a different set of colors.

Bottom Line

These new designs are certainly interesting and will only add to Japan’s international reputation for having the best toilets in the world.

We will see more public toilets built by the Nippon Foundation by the end of year 2021.

If you’d like to check them out for yourself, find the locations below:

Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park


Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park