Restrooms are obviously a necessity, but public restrooms can sometimes be scary to use. More than once, I have regretted ordering a large coffee while I braced myself to deal with a dirty, probably never cleaned, public restroom.

As a parent, public restrooms can be even more concerning. Especially when our children are little, we don’t want to have to set them on a dirty public toilet. Imagine being at a park. The kids are happily playing. Then someone starts doing the potty dance, but the only restroom is dark, dirty and smelly. 

Public restrooms may seem like a necessary evil, but wouldn’t it be great if you knew before walking inside a public restroom that it was actually clean and that you weren’t accidentally going to walk in on someone who forgot to lock the door?

This public restroom issue is a worldwide problem, and Japan wants to do something about it. Architect Shigeru Ban recently designed and revealed transparent restrooms in two public parks, Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park and the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park.

The restroom walls are made out of transparent glass, and each newly designed restroom is tinted a different color. There’s pink, purple, cyan, lime green, yellow and blue. The Nippon Foundation says that at night these restrooms “light up the parks like a beautiful lantern.”

While the restrooms may be beautiful, you might wonder why anyone would think it’s a good idea to create a restroom with transparent walls. There are actually a couple very good reasons. First, you can easily see that nobody is inside the restroom. Second, you can easily see if the restroom is clean or not without even opening the door.

Don’t worry. The restrooms are not transparent when someone is inside. The walls are created with a technology that turns them opaque when the door is locked.

These restrooms were created as part of “The Tokyo Toilet Project,” which was launched by the non-profit Nippon Foundation. The goal is to transform the public restrooms in the busiest parts of the city. A total of 16 architects were tasked with this project, and all of the renovated restrooms should be completed by spring 2021.

Are you ever hesitant to use a public restroom? Do you think the transparent walls are a good idea?