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Tea Leaves

Tokyo launches 'toilet diplomacy'

Glass-walled restroom is clear symbol of Japan's affair with washroom hygiene

Takenosuke Sakakura's Nishihara Itchome toilet is called Andon, which means "lantern." (Photos by Satoshi Nagare, provided by The Nippon Foundation)

The idea was unsettling but intriguing: a public restroom with transparent walls.

Admittedly, the walls were made of a special glass that would turn opaque once the door was locked. Still, how could I be sure that passersby could not see me? And why would anyone want a see-through public restroom?

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