Rooms with a View

Talking about rooms with a view …

I admire Japanese innovation. Forget sushi & anime. My most lasting impression of Tokyo was my first encounter with a Japanese toilet. The electronics and gadgetry! The mystery and music! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this video.

However this recent innovation has me gobsmacked. Earlier this month, Japan revealed the first set of newly architect-ed public bathrooms made with transparent walls which become opaque when locked.

Satoshi Nagare/The Nippon Foundation

The idea of using a public bathroom with see-through walls may sound like the stuff of nightmares. But a famous Japanese architect is hoping to change that view, using vibrant colors and new technology to make restrooms in Tokyo parks more inviting.

“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” according to architect Shigeru Ban’s firm. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.”

Transparent walls can address both of those worries, Ban says, by showing people what awaits them inside. After users enter the restroom and lock the door, the powder room’s walls turn a powdery pastel shade β€” and are no longer see-through.

Bill Chappell. “Transparent Public Toilets Unveiled In Tokyo Parks β€” But They Also Offer Privacy”. NPR, August 19, 2020

Public reaction to the see-through washrooms have been mixed. Many are impressed with the design. Some agree that it’ll address concerns for public safety and hygiene. Many are afraid of the consequences of human or technical error.

What if you forget to lock the door? Or you do lock and the walls don’t change? Of if you lock and the walls change and then change back too soon?

Clearly, I’ve been over-thinking this.

Notwithstanding, I now have one more reason to go back to Tokyo … because this innovation will not be coming to a park near me … anytime soon.

(Not in Tokyo) Toronto, Canada. August 2020


  1. My 1st impression of Japan was like that: after landing in Tokyo, I used the restroom. It was an individual cubicle in the middle of a busy corridor and even getting the door shut from the inside was a struggle coz there were no handles and all text was in Japanese & images, no English… so the first thing I worried about was how to get the door open again when I wanted to leave, which button would open it (I get claustrophobic in closed spaces). Then of course I wondered if the door would suddenly open because maybe I hadn’t closed it properly. Then the toilet itself, full of incredible gadgets and functiona and stickers and sounds….!!! Man!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! I can relate πŸ™‚ I remember being in a public bathroom, looking at all the buttons and trying to figure out how to flush … on one wall there was a huge red button which I initially thought might be to flush … except it had a speaker beside it. It was actually an emergency button. Probably to assist all the tourists πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing the amount of thought & innovation put into Japanese toilets. One of the latest features is using purified, sterile water to flush. πŸ™‚


    1. Hmm … a person could SEE if it was clean before entering but to STAY clean, someone or something still needs to do the work. Unless of course they have an automatic wash down feature as well – something I saw once – a full flush & wash out toilet cubicle πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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