Tokyo Toilet project location, public toilets using electrically opaque glass.

#7: Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park

Transparent Toilets as Beautiful Lanterns


Location #07 is at 5-68-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya. It's in a small park across a busy street from the west edge of the large Yoyogi Park.

Shigeru Ban, the designer of both this and location #08, wrote "There are two things we worry about when entering a public toilet, especially those located at a park. 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."

Visiting the Toilet

The location is one of the two "Transparent Toilet" facilities that the international media has focused on. The walls and doors are made with smart glass, a concept that has been around since the 1980s.

Smart glass contains a liquid crystal film which normally is opaque. That film is between two layers of glass, with transparent electrically conductive film on both sides of the liquid crystal layer. Each panel is a large capacitor.

The liquid crystal film is normally opaque because the crystals are randomly aligned and scatter light. Applying a voltage to the conductive films on both sides causes the crystals to align, making it transparent.

Overview of Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park Public Toilet.
Sign on the door, cropped from the original image.

Google Translate tells me that the sign taped to the women's room door says "Do not use".

The "fail safe" design of the system means that breaking a connection or disconnecting the electrical power causes the film to revert to its normal opaque state.

Apparently the women's unit at this location had a problem during my visit. The walls remained in their opaque state, and the sign instructed women to instead use the men's or the universal toilet.

On my previous visit, international media had reported that the entire Tokyo Toilet project was shut down. The problem was limited to a smart glass problem at just one or possibly two sites.

Here's the view into the vacant men's toilet. See my pictures from location #08 for views from the inside of a smart glass toilet when the door is unlatched and latched.

Vacant men's room in a transparent toilet.
Vacant men's room in a transparent toilet.

Moving on to the Next Location

Locations #06, #07, and #08 are close together along the west edge of Yoyogi Park. Fukusen-ji, a Buddhist temple, and Yoyogi Hachiman-guū, a Shintō shrine thought to enshrine the kami Hachiman, provide interesting things to see between #06 and #07. They're close to the Yoyogi-Hachiman Station, OH 04 on the Odakyū Odawara Line, and the Yoyogi-kōen subway station, C 02 on the Chiyoda Line.

Next❯ #08: Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park

Tokyo Toilet — Overview and Introduction
#1: Sasazuka Greenway #2: Hatagaya #3: Nanagō Dōri Park #4: Nishihara 1-chōme Park #5: Nishisandō #6: Yoyogi Hachiman #7: Haru No Ogawa Community Park #8: Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park #9: Urasando #10: Jingūmae #11: Jingū Dōri Park #12: Nabeshima Shōtō Park #13: Higashi Sanchome Park #14: Ebisu Park #15: Ebisu Station #16: Ebisu East Park #17: Hiroo East Park

Other Toilets in Japan: