tomohito ushiro makes pixelated lights dance and shapeshift for the tokyo toilet

tomohito ushiro makes pixelated lights dance and shapeshift for the tokyo toilet

The tokyo toilet with Tomohito Ushiro


Japanese creative director Tomohito Ushiro makes his way into The Tokyo Toilet and devises pixelated lights that dance and shapeshift into a myriad of imagery and forms. The toilet lights up in 7.9 billion ways, a number that reflects the world’s estimated population, and flashes lights in various patterns.


The pixelated glow can mimic sunrays that filter through the trees during the day, and shimmer like the moonlight or wandering fireflies at night. Ushiro confirms that users and passersby will not see the same pattern twice. Ushiro wants to embody the idea of diverse sameness. As he puts it, ‘we are all the same in the sense that we are all different.’


He designs the inside and outside of the public toilet in a language that invites anyone to use it: gamified giant digital screens flashing lights outside, a white-painted entrance whose design recalls public bathrooms in swimming pools, and interior fixtures and toilet that sign the classic vernacular of high-tech Japan through the use of steel and white hues. 

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
images courtesy of The Nippon Foundation | photos by Satoshi Nagare



‘I designed it like a piece of public art’


The Tokyo Toilet by Tomohito Ushiro sits inside Hiroo Higashi Park, a residential area surrounded by greenery, residents, and visitors. At day, the white color of the exterior steals the limelight as it stands out among the concrete, flora, and plants that dot the landscape.


Glasses barricade the gigantic light panel installed behind the toilet, the screen that illuminates at night and when the surroundings are dark enough to let the light play its role. Ushiro’s design follows Marc Newson’s pastel take on the traditional Japanese roof on the Tokyo Toilet.


For the creative director, his design aims to encourage visitors to not only view the toilet as a public amenity but also as a hub for cultural pleasure. ‘I designed this toilet to be like a piece of public art that is part of daily life while also constantly asking questions to the viewer,’ Ushiro says. ‘I hope it becomes a monument that continues to question the significance of this project.’

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
exterior view

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
a gigantic light panel installed behind the toilet

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
one of the two universal toilets is equipped with an ostomate-friendly device


diaper changing station

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
the lighting of this toilet was designed with 7.9 billion different lighting patterns

tomohito ushiro the tokyo toilet
view at night



project info:


name: The Tokyo Toilet

designer: Tomohito Ushiro

location: Hiroo Higashi Park in Tokyo

project: The Tokyo Toilet by The Nippon Foundation

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