The newly-opened Poop Museum in Yokohama shows just how fun you can make something traditionally seen as gross. Read a comprehensive firsthand report on this cool, interactive pop-up museum.
On March 15th 2019, a multi-storey entertainment complex called Yokohama ASOBUILD opened it doors. Each floor features a different way to have fun, from the gourmet restaurant-filled Post Street on the first floor to the sports court on the roof. The basement even contains a bar lounge which claims to be “a quality playground for adults”. Whatever that means.
But what I want to focus on today is the interesting assortment of activities found on the second floor, known as ALE-BOX. Using the latest entertainment technologies, this floor offers cool escape rooms and virtual reality screenings. And for 4 months only, an Unko Museum. (Unko is the Japanese word for “poo” or “poop”).
Always on the lookout for new cool things to do around Tokyo, I excitedly bought tickets for the opening weekend (March 15th-17th) as soon as I heard about it. Those of us who pre-purchased these tickets got a free gift, which happened to be an Unko Museum clearfile worth 500 yen.
Unfortunately, having advance tickets did nothing to ease the congestion on the day. Everyone apparently had the same idea, so it was still a 70 minute wait to enter the museum. Staff handed us a brochure which had a Spot the Difference game embedded into it. Living in Tokyo, you get pretty used to lining up, so they were well prepared.
Entering the Poop Museum
After finding all 12 differences and around a hour of shuffling in line, a staff member donning a pink poop-shaped hat finally allowed us inside. We were directed to watch a short promo video of the Poop Museum, and then led to a hallway lined with six colourful toilet seats – the My Unko Maker section.
The staff asked us to sit on a toilet each, and make our best “doing a poop” face. When we got off the seat, a colourful piece of turd awaited us at the bottom of the bowl. This would be our very own unko, to carry around the museum and take home as a souvenir.
The museum itself is fairly small, and can easily be covered in less than an hour. The centerpiece for the main room is the Unko Volcano, a huge poop blinking with lights, and surrounded by children (and adults) pelting balls at it. The reason being a hole at the top poop swirl. If you manage to land a ball inside, it will display a countdown of 30 seconds and then “erupt”.
The main room also consists of a rest space with poop-shaped tables and chairs, as well as a drink counter. However, the latter wasn’t open on the day we went.
Inside the Poop Museum
The things you can do inside are broken into three categories: Unstagenic, Unteractive and Untelligence. Within each of the categories are a number of sections corresponding to the theme. I’ll describe each of them below.
Here we have poop-themed displays and backgrounds you can use to turd up your photos. It’s best described as a photogenic area for social media influencers and Instagrammers.
Colourful Unko: Remember the colourful poop you “made” in the My Unko Maker section? Stick it into the holes in front of the wall and watch the poop shapes light up.
Flying Unko: A display of poop strung up in the air which you can pose with.
Puritto Princess: A tea party scene where all the sweets are poop-shaped.
Unko Room of Love: A couple of toilet seats for romantics.
Unko-Lingual Neon: A really cool wall of neon-signs with “poop” in different languages. Personally my favourite display there.
Galaxy of Poo: A dark room with reflective poop-shaped decorations hanging from the ceiling. Presumably to simulate being in a space, but it reminded me more of a night club.
As the name suggests, this is an interactive section where you can do things with poop (not real ones, obviously). Most of the activities are aimed at children, so are rather simple.
Hop! Step! Jumpoo!: Using projection mapping, images of poop appear on the floor. Stamp on these images to see them go splat.
Unko Shout: Thanks (or no thanks) to this corner, the entire experience of going around the Poop Museum is filled with the background noises of children screaming “UNKOOOOOOO!” Basically it’s a challenge to see who can scream the word the loudest.
Crappy Game Corner: Three retro style arcade games which are pretty crappy. In the first, you are a toilet that has to catch as many falling poops as possible, avoiding the green-coloured ones and the ice cream cones. There is a 30 second time limit, and the poops fall really fast in the last 10 seconds or so. The high score was over 800, but I only managed to score 340.
The second game was the crappiest, mostly because nobody could understand how it worked. You basically have to kick a poop into a soccer goal, avoiding the goalie. But even if we aimed properly, the poop would fly off in a random tangent. Even a little boy who tried to offer me tips couldn’t get more than one goal.
The third game is the simplest, and tests your eye-hand reflex. You have a photo, and a poop will come sailing past at any time. You have to press the button as soon as it does, so you can “snap” it in the photo.
This is probably the least exciting part of the museum. It’s self-proclaimed as an “academic area”, but it’s really just a display of poop-themed goods from around the world, like children’s books and toys (UNKO Goods of the World). You can also draw your own poopy work of art in the Draw! Everyone’s Unko section, and there’s a gallery of artwork by students on display.
Exiting the Poop Museum
As we left the world of poop, we passed through a dark corridor named Invisible Unko. I’m not sure what this means, as we didn’t see anything, but I guess that’s the point. On our right was a wall with clear plastic cases and a sign which instructed: TAKE UNKO HOME. Yes, these bags were to carry our little colourful turd we “shat” out in the first section. Leaving the darkness, we entered into the obligatory gift shop found at the end of every museum trip. Here you can buy an assortment of poop-themed goods, from stationery to t-shirts to bottled water.
Getting to the Poop Museum Yokohama
The Poop Museum Yokohama is located right by Yokohama Station. If coming from Tokyo, taking any of the JR or Keikyu Lines heading in that direction will get you there directly.
神奈川県横浜市西区高島２丁目１４−９ (アソビル２F ALE-BOX内)
2-14-9 Takashima, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa (2F Asobuild, inside ALE-BOX)
It is open 11am – 8pm Mondays to Thursdays, and 10am – 9pm Fridays to Sundays and on public holidays/days preceding public holidays. Last entry is half an hour before closing. However, do note that this is a pop-up museum, which means it’s only going to be there for a limited time (until 15th July 2019).
Tickets & Cost
If you purchase tickets in advance, they are 1600 yen for adults, 900 yen for children. Children under primary school age are free. On-the-day tickets are 100 yen more for adults; the children ticket prices stay the same.
You can purchase tickets online on the official ALE-BOX website, or the e-ticketing site eplus. However, in either case you will need to do the booking in Japanese as English is not supported. Once the initial hype dies down, it shouldn’t make much difference in terms of lining up if buying tickets on the day.
All Pooped Out
Even though the official name of this facility is the Unko Museum, I would take the “museum” part with a grain of salt. It is not a museum in the traditional sense of the word. That is, there’s nothing remotely educational about the exhibits, nor does it display any historical artefacts. I suppose by some stretch it is artistic, but more than anything it’s a place to have some silly fun. And I did have fun. I would have liked to see more interactive and educational exhibits, and maybe even some poop-themed snacks, like chocolate soft serve ice cream, but all in all it’s a unique experience. Trust Japan to succeed in turning a bodily excrement into a theme for a family-oriented museum.