Photo/IllutrationVisitors pose for a photo with an object called “flying unko” at the Unko Museum in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on May 5. (Rei Kishitsu)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

YOKOHAMA--An interactive museum here at Yokohama Station is encouraging visitors to flush away their preconceived notions of “unko,” or poop, and instead have fun with it.

The Unko Museum, a pop-up exhibition that opened in March in the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, has been a smash hit for all generations, particularly youngsters and families.

The exhibit is all about human fecal matter, full of interactive activities, with the intent to encourage people to eliminate their preconceived repulsive notion of poop.

In the museum, visitors patiently wait in line to sit on colorful toilet seats displayed in the museum.

When visitors hold their breath and strain their stomach muscles, a palm-sized poop called “My Unko” appears in the bowl, which the visitor receives as a souvenir.

On another corner of the museum, visitors shout “unko!” in front of a screen, on which a fecal image appears in a size that accords with the loudness of the voice.

In the corner named “Unstagenic Area,” visitors pose for a photo with colorful and shiny poop-shaped objects hanging in the air.

In the “Unteractive Area,” children play a game of stepping on poop.

Since the opening, more than 50,000 people have visited the museum, becoming a hugely popular attraction during the recent national Golden Week holidays.

Ayami Tashiro, public relations officer of Akatsuki Inc., the company that operates the museum, said that the event’s initial target was high school girls and college women but its Instagram-worthy contents have a crossover appeal beyond generational and gender differences.

It is not an isolated phenomenon, as poop has recently garnered new-found fame in Japan.

“Unko Drill,” a series of study materials targeting elementary school children that inserts the word poop in every subject matter logically and sometimes illogically, has been a hot-selling product since it was first published in 2017.

Why is poop bringing out such enthusiastic reaction from the public?

Yoshimi Benno, a microbiologist and special researcher in residence at the government-affiliated Riken research institute, said, “In Freudian psychoanalysis, it is viewed that people feel deeply attached to a thing that comes out of one’s body.”

“Unko is also a barometer of health. Having an interest in poop will make an impact on both physical and intellectual power,” he said.

The museum will be open until July 15. Visitors are required to reserve tickets in advance.

General admission is 1,600 yen ($14.60) and tickets for elementary school children are 900 yen. Admission for those who are younger is free.

However, in a curious twist, visitors are warned to be prepared for one eventuality: there is no real toilet inside the museum.

For more information on the Unko Museum: