DestinationsThe Olympics is a show of Japan's mastery in the art of tech-advanced toilets.

A gold for Tokyo's restroom game

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Shigeru Ban's transparent bathrooms at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park turn opaque when visitors lock the door.
Shigeru Ban's transparent bathrooms at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park turn opaque when visitors lock the door. Photo Credit: The Tokyo Toilet

It's not just athletes upping their game at the Olympics — Tokyo is also scoring a new gold for creating public toilets in never-been-seen ways.

The Tokyo Toilet gathered 16 global designers, artists and architects to rework 17 public restrooms in the buzzing Shibuya district, and the result: true works of art.

Five toilet huts at Shonto Park covered by cedar boards.
Five toilet huts at Shonto Park covered by cedar boards.

Imagine five huts linked by a garden path to "create a line of flow", or a bright red toilet along railway tracks celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Or transparent bathrooms which let users gauge its cleanliness and availability — before turning opaque once locked.

True to Japan's functional design aesthetics, all facilities include wheelchair access and bidets; some even offer child care, personal grooming and functions to support the blind and those who've undergone ostomy surgery.

Eleven of these public bathrooms are open, with the remaining six expected to open by spring 2022.

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