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

Tokyo Toilet Project

The Tokyo Toilet Project


In 2020–2023 the Shibuya Ward city government established the Tokyo Toilet project. It commissioned sixteen prominent architects to design seventeen public toilets.

The project extends across an area running north-south along the JR Yamanote Line through Ebisu Station, Shibuya Station, Harajuku Station, and Shinjuku Station, and extending west from there.

The public toilets are mostly in small parks or next to train stations.

In May, 2024, I visited all seventeen of them.

Overview map showing all 17 Tokyo Toilet locations.

Screen shot of the Tokyo Toilet web site. My individual pages have working Google Maps links to lead you directly to them. Locations 06, 07, and 08 are clustered along the west edge of Yoyogi Park; locations 13, 14, 15, and 16 are around Ebisu Station.

Map showing Tokyo Toilet locations #06, 07, and 08.

Locations 06, 07, and 08 are clustered along the west edge of Yoyogi Park.

Map showing Tokyo Toilet locations #13, 14, 15, and 16 near Ebisu Station.

Locations 13, 14, 15, and 16 are around Ebisu Station.

"Which ones should I visit, and how?"

That's up you! The two facilities that have received the most international attention are locations #07 and 08. They're built with smart glass walls that become opaque when someone goes inside and locks the door. The walls contain a liquid crystal film between two layers of glass. The liquid crystal layer turns transparent when a voltage is applied, as is the case when the door is unlatched. The glass is tinted, so the result is that one toilet might have walls that are light green and otherwise transparent when no one is inside, and an opaque light green when someone has gone in and latched the door.

Three obvious short multi-location visits would be:

"What about visiting all of them?"

1: The underlying Traveling Toileteer Problem is known to be computationally difficult to solve. The amount of work needed to find an optimal multi-node route through a graph increases exponentially with the number of inter-node links.

The locations are scattered across an area, they aren't all in a line or along an oval path. There's no easy way1 to find an optimal path.

I saw all seventeen over the course of a little over two hours on one afternoon, then about six hours the next day. The locations each day, and the order in which I visited them:
Day one: #10, 11, 08, 06, 07, 05
Day two: #1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 12, 15, 14, 13, 16, 17
Combined with other things I did on those days, I walked a little over eleven kilometers each day.

"What are they like?"

They are unlike anything I have ever seen in the U.S.

They are clean, well-lit, and feel safe and comfortable to use. Soap and toilet paper are well stocked. They get a lot of use, and that requires frequent attention for cleaning, maintenance, and resupply. So, Shibuya Ward buys supplies and pays cleaning and maintenance staff.

Most if not all use natural lighting, but also have plenty of LED illumination controlled by motion sensors.

The floor plans are open while providing plenty of privacy.

In the U.S. there's a lot of worry about people seeing into a public bathroom. If the bathrooms are single-person facilities, they have a door that closes and can be locked. For a facility that multiple people would use simultaneously, there's usually a serpentine entry with multiple 90° turns. You can't see ahead of you, and you don't know what or who is lurking beyond the next corner.

In contrast, these have broad doorways so you can see your surroundings as you enter and leave. Yes, some of them have some specific exterior spots where you could see someone washing their hands, or see the back of a man using a urinal. That doesn't cause a moral panic as it would in the U.S.

Once inside, the toilet stalls are truly private. The stall walls and doors extend down to the floor, and if they don't extend up to the ceiling, they're much too high to see over. That would also cause a moral panic in the U.S., a fear of sexual activity and drug use in the public toilet stalls.


All of the locations include at least one everyone's toilet or universal toilet which can be used, as far as is practical, by everyone. All signs include Braille, and in Japan a system of tactile tiles guide blind or low-vision people along sidewalks and across streets, and through train and subway stations to and from the platforms. The universal toilet includes an area for changing a baby's diapers, and it also provides support for ostomates, people with a colostomy or similar.

Start❯ #01: Sasazuka Greenway

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: