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Japanese Toilets Have Excelled to New Levels

Updated on October 11, 2020
OeKaori profile image

Formerly an economics and humanities student at UCLA, Oe Kaori is now an intern for the United Nations.

Where Did This Idea Start?

The Invention of a clear public toilet is far from being a novel idea. Europe tested the idea and it became successful in several countries. Japan started the transparent toilet trend in 2014 by placing a few in Oita City. The idea of a transparent public toilet even has some Japanese citizens worried as well. While it is strange the idea is to give people a peace of mind when entering a public toilet such as cleanliness or if the space is occupied. Somehow it is considered a work of beautifully designed architect.

A Clear Public Toilet Serves its Purpose

The idea behind the high-tech toilets, one researcher told the Washington Post, is to make public toilets "a place where people can relax," one of the researchers said. While they appreciated the advanced technology of the new toilets, some Tokyo residents said they were out of place in exposed public places. A technician from a district south of Tokyo said he usually shuns public toilets, but tends to use the newer ones because they look bright and clean.

The architect Shigeru Ban, who designed the transparent toilet, caused a stir on social media, and his glass design seemed to attract people's attention due to its transparent design

Ban, said the transparent toilets were beautiful, especially at night. The newly installed transparent washrooms are illuminated at night, which adds to the charm of Tokyo's parks. While rooms in traditional Japanese houses can be locked from the inside, toilets are one of the few rooms in a house that allow privacy due to the living conditions. Ban's transparent toilet solves this problem, as visitors can look inside the toilet without touching the door and provide privacy at the touch of a button.

In its statement, the TheNippon Foundation states that the use of public toilets in Japan is restricted because the public bathroom is dark, dirty, smelly and frightening. The foundation notes that "Japanese toilets are famous for their hygiene, but many believe that public toilets are dark and dirty, and stinking and frightening to anyone who uses them. The official Tokyo Toilet Project website states: "What you see in the toilet effectively addresses these primary concerns when using a public toilet.

Notably, several Youtubers who were showing off the new transparent public wash house in Tokyo also shared videos of people feeling embarrassed for forgetting to lock the door.

Shigeru Ban The Designer Behind Clear Toilets
Shigeru Ban The Designer Behind Clear Toilets | Source

Clear Public Toilets as an Art Form

Not surprisingly, there is an urban arts initiative called Tokyo Toilet, which aims to renew a good handful of zebra crossings. Last spring, the city commissioned Tokyo University of the Arts to redesign public toilets in the parks to reflect the culture of the area, including the history, culture, history of Japan and culture in general, as well as the urban environment.

The Tokyo Toilet Project, which is responsible for the project, hopes to install toilets in 17 different locations in Shibuya by next spring. There, they chose 17 public toilets created by Toyo Kojima and his team from the University of the Arts in Tokyo. This is the seventh design to be completed as part of the Nippon Foundation's Tokyo Toilets project, and the first of its kind in Japan.

The Cultural Hospitality

As strange as it seems though, the toilet is a symbol of Japan's hospitality. A nice clean toilet or bathroom is a sign of self respect for the owner and also a sign of hospitality for the guest. Not all Japanese are onboard with this idea. Some are afraid that while using a transparent public bathroom may reveal themselves as they are taking care of business.

It can be off putting in case the shield mechanism malfunctions and then well... everyone can see your business out in the open. It does bring a futuristic touch to the streets of Tokyo and garden parks around the city. However it still has a long way to go as a popular concept for everyday people.

What do you think of public toilets being transparent? Is it a neat idea or something that would turn you off?

Would you consider using a transparent public toilet?

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    • OeKaori profile imageAUTHOR

      Oe Kaori 

      9 days ago from Yokohama Japan

      lol it is strange for some people. Japan fascinates many people. I am Japanese but I do not want to use a clear toilet

    • OeKaori profile imageAUTHOR

      Oe Kaori 

      11 days ago from Yokohama Japan

      Hahaha no way I don't want to go to jail lol but yes some people think the bathrooms are strange if they are see through.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      11 days ago from Toronto, Canada

      I saw this in some news clip not long ago and it blew my mind. I mean, even if one cannot see inside, the person inside can see outside, no? So, I do not think I can use a bathroom while I see people walking around everywhere. It would be too much of a distraction but this is certainly a very, very creative idea.

      Or, one can go in and smoke a joint. That way, You can flush it down the toilet if You see police coming. Haha!! (I'm still thinking about your last article as You can see.)

      Japanese people/society/culture always amazes me. I have a lot of respect for You guys but I do think sometimes things get a little weird. The work ethic I find a bit too much as well. Take some days off. Relax, try some cannabis. It's not that bad. I mean, if one drinks sake, one smoking a joint is not that much different. Actually alcohol can make some people violent. Cannabis never does that.

      Alrighty, time for me to put down my joint and coffee and start thinking about breakfast. All the best!

    • OeKaori profile imageAUTHOR

      Oe Kaori 

      2 weeks ago from Yokohama Japan

      It is such a touristy idea

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      This is all new to me. I would imagine that these will become a tourist attraction because of their novelty value.


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