Video: The Japanese project rethinking society through its toilets

Japanese toilets are a symbol of the country’s hospitality culture, known locally as ‘omotenashi’.

Now the Tokyo Toilet project is taking the concept a step further by reimagining 17 public toilets that are safe and truly accessible for all.

Transparent public toilets which light up “like a beautiful lantern” have been installed in Tokyo.

The see-through loos have opened in two parks in Shibuya, a commercial part of the Japanese capital which is renowned for its shopping facilities and quality of nightlife.

A team of top designers created the new toilets. Pics: Masatoshi Okauchi/Shutterstock

The glass technology has been used so people can identify whether the toilet is clean – and if anyone is currently inside.

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Users have already said how, once inside the toilet, they cannot tell if the glass is opaque or not – giving them the strange feeling they are on display while spending a penny.

The toilets use coloured “smart glass” which turns opaque when they are occupied.

The glass turns opaque when the toilet is occupied

A number of leading designers helped to create the restrooms as part of the Tokyo Toilet Project to change people’s “dark, dirty, smelly and scary” perceptions of public loos.

Award-winning architect Shigeru Ban was part of the work and, in a statement on the project’s website, said: “There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park.

The Japanese officials say they want to use toilets to show how their society should be.

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“The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside. Using the latest technology, the exterior glass turns opaque when locked.

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

The design allows prospective users to inspect the toilet’s cleanliness from the outside

The Nippon Foundation, a non-profit charity, has overseen the project and, in a statement, said: “The use of public toilets in Japan is limited because of stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly and scary.

“These public toilets are being designed by 16 leading creators, and will use advanced design to make them accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability, to demonstrate the possibilities of an inclusive society.”

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There are plans to open more of the transparent toilets across the same neighbourhood by next spring.

Watch the video below

Video by CBS News

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