I absolutely adore this article from Nerdist, outlining how new public toilets in Shibuya, Tokyo have see-through walls to illustrate their cleanliness to potential users.
Of course, once the door is shut,
magic technology turns the walls solid, protecting users’ privacy. It’s all part of the Tokyo Toilet Project.
I have to say, I’ve been in many a public toilet in Japan and not once have I worried about its cleanliness, never mind safety. The only thing missing from the more basic ones is anything to dry your hands on, once you’ve finished washing them. That’s why so many people bring a small towel with them, for this very purpose. A little trick I picked up on my very first trip to Tokyo.
Then again, I’ve been navigating filthy public toilets in London for nearly two decades, so I suppose my standards are lower than the average Tokyo citizen.
Can you imagine the anxiety involved in sitting on one of these toilets and wondering if, at any moment, the technology might fail – revealing your vulnerability to every passerby?! I’d play it safe and use the urinal, if I’m honest. No matter how attractive the average bottom-warming-and-cleaning Japanese toilet is.