I am delighted to introduce this guest post from Step Up Japanese student Philip Kinchington!
When I (Fran) heard that Phil was going to Yokohama's new poop museum on his recent trip to Japan, I knew there'd be some good photos in the pipeline...
So I was really pleased that he agreed to share these photos with you and this report from the Unko Museum.
(We got his friends' permission to use their photos too. When you’ve seen the photos, it'll be clear why this was important.)
Over to you, Phil! Yoroshiku ne!
On my recent visit to Tokyo I managed to meet up with my friends Tomo and Taka. They have a knack for sniffing out the most interesting and bizarre places to visit (the last time I met up with them they took me to the Monster Kawaii Cafe in Harajuku and then the Ramen Museum in Yokohama).
This time I was given the choice between the Kaiju Cafe in Kawasaki, or the Unko Museum (うんこミュージアム) in Yokohama. I had already been instructed by the mutual friend who introduced me to Tomo and Taka that I had to go to the Unko Museum or they would very disappointed in me, so the choice was simple (we ended up going to the Kaiju Cafe anyway, so it turned out to be a consequence free choice.)
うんこ (unko) is the Japanese equivalent word for poo-poo or poop, often used by small children. And while it is called a museum, it is more of a kind of crazy art installation with photo opportunities and a few interactive exhibits. There is very little of educational value beyond a display of some poop-themed toys from around the world.
While waiting for entry to the Museum, we were given the leaflet for the museum which doubled as a little spot-the-differences puzzle. We were also encouraged to don a 'poop-hat' for a photo opportunity (this will become a recurring theme.)
After queuing we were gathered into a group of about a dozen people and escorted into a small ante-chamber for instruction (none of which I understood.) Once the instructions had been delivered, we were encouraged to shout "UNKO!!" in unison before being directed through a curtain into the next room.
We found ourselves in a long, narrow room with half a dozen pastel-coloured thrones along one wall. We were directed to take our places on a throne and to make 'straining' faces for the obligatory photo opportunity.
Once they felt that enough photos had been taken, we were told to stand up and look into the bowl of the throne.
A souvenir poop to take away as a gift from the Museum. We were then funnelled from this room into the main Museum area. As we left the room, we were each handed a stick to place our souvenir poop onto for the convenience of carrying.
On entering the main room of the exhibition, we came face-to-face with a ball pit, at the centre of which was a giant poop sculpture (the Poop Volcano, apparently.) As we entered, a countdown was projected onto the side of the Poop Volcano.
...and a fountain of small foam poops spray out of the top of the volcano. Two attendants came over to the edge of the ball pit carrying a giant, lidded potty. The children in the ball pit were then told to gather all of the foam poops and deposit them in the potty as quickly as they could. I have no idea what the purpose of this exercise was.
From here we worked our way around the other areas of the exhibition in a clockwise direction. First up was a handful of video games repurposed with a poop theme, or some kind of poop element.
Around the corner from the video games was another game, but one that was more physically interactive.
Near the end of the video I ask the rhetorical question "how old am I?" The official answer to this is (nearly) 44, but that's only because was a bit nervous and stuttered when asked my age.
Next was a room (sadly no photo) with three microphones and a large screen. The screen displayed what looked like a hosepipe pointing upwards from the bottom of the screen in front of each microphone. The instructions said to shout "UNKO!!" into the microphone. On doing this a poop was produced out of the appropriate hosepipe on the screen. It appeared that the louder you shouted, the larger the poop that was summoned, and the longer you held the shout, the poop would continue to float above the end of the hosepipe.
The remainder of the Museum was really just a series of photo opportunities (one of which looked worryingly like my Drawing Room at home.)
The Unko Museum is currently open in the Aso Building a short walk from Yokohama Station. The exhibition opened on 15th March 2019, but it is only open until 15th July, so you'd better be quick if you want to visit. You can find more information on their website (日本語だけ).
After the Unko Museum, we went to the zoo. They only had one animal, a small dog. It was a Shitzu.
P.S. Have you been somewhere cool and Japan-related that you’d like to share with us? Perhaps you have an interesting Japanese hobby or interest? Would you like to write a guest blog post for Step Up Japanese? I’d love to hear from you! Click here to get in touch!