Tokyo is working on renovating dozens of public toilets around the Shibuya district to wipe off the old image of the toiles being dirty and smelly. In collaboration with the Pritzker prize-winning architect, Shigeru Ban and dozen other leading designers and architects, Shibuya and its neighboring district underwent a massive “toilet” revolution starting with the city’s first transparent public toilets.
What is “THE TOKYO TOILET” project?
THE TOKYO TOILET Project is organized by the nonprofit The Nippon Foundation to install the toilets to revitalize the commonly used public toilets around the Shibuya district. Each location is expected to get their unique twist and by mid-2021, the project plans to install the toilets at 17 locations.
As of August 2020, there are two transparent toilets designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect, Shigeru Ban, which are installed at Haru-No-Ogawa Community Park and at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park. It's an easy access from exit 3 on Yoyogi Koen Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. By day and night, this new toilet gives a different touch to the park where at night, it lit up like a lantern.
Left: Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park Right:Haru-No-Ogawa Community Park
The cubicles’ glass outer walls turn opaque after the door is locked which prevents anyone from peeping inside while doing their business. The prospective users would be hinted through this color change as to whether the toilet is occupied or not.
To dispel stereotypes of public toilets being dark, dirty, smelly, and scary, where many have hesitated to use it, this radical design presents a new image of public toilets.It is safer to use as it allows prospective users to inspect the toilet's cleanliness and occupancy from the outside. This helps the users to casually drop by. Ever since these facilities opened for use on Aug. 5, they’ve become popular photo hot spots, as well as an exciting experience.
Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park
Haru-No-Ogawa Community Park
Other Toilets under THE TOKYO TOILET projects
Shigeru Ban’s two transparent toilets are just two of 17 new facilities being added around Shibuya from The Nippon Foundation’s Tokyo Toilet project. There are few other already opened facilities located all within close proximity of Ebisu station. As an ode to historic toilets in the park, Masamichi Katayama designed a more contemporary, permanent toilet at Ebisu Park. This toilet involves multiple concrete walls and warm accent lighting inspired from the classic “kawaya” huts (old way of saying toilet in Japanese) built during the nation’s Jomon period.
At Ebisu East Park or otherwise familiarly known as the “Octopus Park”, due to its iconic octopus shaped slide, a new member of the sea animal has joined. This time, a squid has joined in, in the form of a “public toilet”. The Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Fumihiko Maki designed the “Squid Toilet” topped with a thin white roof resembling somewhat that of a squid. This toilet is in a decentralized layout with multiple areas and lines of sight that promote good ventilation and plenty of sunlight.
On a triangular plot in the east side of Ebisu, a sleek red structured toilet was set up which was designed by a New York based Japanese designer, Nao Tamura. This toilet is divided into three with a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, female toilet and male toilet aligned in a row with the male toilet at the tip of the triangle. As stated in the official statement, Tamura brought up this design inspired by Origata – a traditional Japanese method of gift wrapping to reference the notion of hospitality, to fit a toilet into a small triangular lot.
The remaining public toilets with some of the biggest names in the architecture like Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito and Kengo Kumo are yet to be opened and on its way. To dispel stereotypical images of the dirty public toilets, The Nippon Foundation are planning to work with the Shibuya City government and the Shibuya City Tourism Association to maintain these new toilets.