Wednesday, July 30, 2014

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

Wow...what an exciting title, and, I'm sure you're thinking, "Oh, just another science museum."  Oh ho ho!  No way my friends!  This science museum (which, I've heard is actually a great, and fairly cheap, way to spend an afternoon if you're in Tokyo) is hosting a special exhibit from now until October 5th, 2014....it's the "Toilet!? Human Waste & Earth's Future" exhibit...or, as we like to call it, The Poop Museum!!  So, come with us and find out what happens to the "kids" before, during, and after you drop them off at "the pool".

FYI:  If you have a weak stomach or can't handle a lot of "poopy" talk....just close this blog now.  :)

Just a few quick details about the trip:
-We took the 0905 train from Yokosuka Chuo to Fune-nokagakukan (making a transfer at Shimbashi) and arrived around 1030.
-Museum hours:  1000-1700
-Admission fee:  we paid just under 1,000 Yen for each adult, and just under 500 Yen for 6 y.o. and up.  We had enough in our group to qualify for the discounted group rates.  That price got us into the Science museum as well as the special exhibit

Ok...now the fun stuff!   When we stepped of the train at Fune-nokagakukan we got our first view of what we were in for...yes, folks, that's a poop water fountain that those people are playing under.  This whole area had rides and things to do, but that wasn't on our agenda today.  Note:  I'm still pretty new to this camera and, genius me, I still had it set for shooting fireworks.  Soooo...the first few shots are pretty washed out.   
We got to the museum just before 1100.  The walk from the train station to the museum didn't take long.  It's almost a straight shot.  Here's a {washed out} shot of the building.  It has a pretty streamlined front...and a massive line to get in!  We stood in line for quite a bit.  At least we were in the shade.
 Just before we entered the building we stopped to get a picture with our wonderful "Feces Ambassador".  Say...cheese (?)...everyone.
When we entered the special exhibit we looked up to see the world...with moving clouds and everything!  There were many people laid back on the soft benches watching the clouds pass by.



 The toilet on the left is decorated with around 72,000 crystal rhinestones.  The golden throne on the right says it is the world's #1 toilet.  A little language lesson for you today...."benjo" is the word for "toilet", and it literally means "a place for receiving news."  I have to say, every Japanese person I've run into has said "toilet".
We presented our tickets and then chose a restroom door.  Garytt picked the first door.  Mackenzie and I squeezed through the middle door and into a fascinating world of poop, where we will learn that "defacation is proof of life...Let's contemplate the toilet, the 'small hole that opens out into the world' and talk about our waste and the future of the earth.  So let's be on our way to the world of toilets!"




The characters that would be teaching us today (L to R):
Pritney ~ "An exuberant waste girl who loves being cute"
Toile-no-suke ~ "Always squeaky clean! A hard working toilet boy,"
Britto ~ "Adventure Lover! A waste boy who has just returned from Kenya"
Dr. Bendel ~ "An enthusiastic fanatic scientist.  Studying the mysteries of toilets and feces."
Wipey ~ "Being made of paper, he is a frivolous character who loves flushing everything down the toilet."  (side note...this guy must have been speaking to Garytt when he was three and decided to flush a Strawberry Shortcake~and many other toys~ down the toilet...to the point we had to totally dismantle, and sometimes snake, the toilet.)


After checking out a display with one of Japan's awesome toilets (music, heat, washing, air, etc, etc) we watched a little show about what a toilet could say if it could talk.




NOTE:  You might want to scroll past the next couple of pics if you have a weak stomach...you have been warned!

The first of eight sections taught us all about the shape, smell, and color of our unchi (poop)....how bad food decreases the amount produced; how your environment, stress level, and daily activities can age your intestine; what your poop is made of (in case you were wondering 80% water, 10% intestinal mucosa, 10% food waste); and, what the color means.  We were also informed about the importance of washing your hands after going potty, what to do if your unchi falls on the floor (I can't make this stuff up!), and how viruses can be passed along if you don't wipe properly.
Garytt cracked me up here...he kept looking at that pile of poop.  Probably trying to decide if it was real.  Then, he worked up his bravery (some might say another word here) and did a lightening fast touch.  Shew...not real!

Yes, my friends, in Japan Super Poop to the rescue!!!


And, now a look at some animal poops.  On the right, there were three tubes on a counter.  The kids just picked them up and started sniffing.  Uuuhhhh...I'd be a little skeptical of a station that asked me to sniff something in a POOP exhibit!!!  And, they were fooled into a false sense of security...the first tube was a floral deodorant smell.  The second tube....blech, ugh, hack, gag....yeah, you get the idea!  The third tube was a mixture of deodorant and unchi smell.  I left that station for the kids to explore.


We walked around the corner and the kids were able to form their own model unchi out of clay and then place them in a Japanese benjo.
Garytt's model poo


Mackenzie making her unchi and watching a strange (and, I use that term loosely here considering this whole experience is way off the normal meter)...a strange movie with dancing and fighting poops set to music.

Here is a toilet bowl and clogs (used in front of a urinal or a squat toilet so splashes don't get on your toes).  These are designed in blue and white, which was a very trendy thing back in the Edo period.

The second section told us what we can do while on the toilet.  It showed a school house potty room with tiny little toilets.  The next little spot was a potty in a room that was totally closed off to everything around it.  There was also a toilet in the middle of a library.  I can't believe I didn't get a shot of that one.  It was pretty neat, says the book nerd in me.   Then, there was a toilet game...yes...I said it...game.  The kids walked up and pushed a button to make the little statue pee on a target while a toilet bowl on the screen in front of them filled...how many bowls can you fill?  Finally, there were pads of paper where the kids could draw a picture or write a note and then post it in the bathroom.  Mackenzie drew a potty (the yellow and purple one farthest to the left) and Garytt drew, yup, you guessed it...poop.

Section three...where does the poop go?  Also known as OUR FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY!  We walked down a hall where we were able to see the evolution of "going potty", from squatting out in the open, to squatting in a more secluded room, to using chamber pots, and all the way to the modern toilet, which we all got to experience for ourselves!  We all donned our poop hats, climbed up the ladder to the giant toilet, then WEEEEEEEEEE....into the can we went!!!!




I'm going to steal Aida's caption here:  The Poop Group  

Checking out books on poop problems.
I didn't get too many shots of the next few areas.  My kids didn't find them all that exciting so they whizzed on through.  There was a section that explained how astronauts go to the bathroom in space. And, then a section about problems with going potty....what it's like for victims of natural disasters, what happens when elderly can't take care of themselves properly, homeless people.


Last thing in the exhibit was a cute toilet song...where the toilets actually sing to us!



The boys were really pooped at the end of our tour...hee hee...you see what I did there?


If you're still reading this mess at this point, bravo!  Thanks for taking this trip along with us through the intestines and into the benjo!  And, remember....

Oh, and just in case anyone wants to take a piece of poop home with you...poop shaped lollipops!



Our train ride home was pretty neat.  The kids were able to get seats all the way at the back of the train as we went over the Rainbow Bridge.  We've seen the train several times as we've driven into Tokyo, and today we were able to get a beautiful view of the city and the structure of this spectacular bridge.


I have to say, this was probably one of the most fun trips we have been on since we've been here.  We had many laughs, learned a little (maybe more than we wanted), and made fabulous new friends!  And, to end the day...we probably had the most inappropriate dinner talk that will ever be allowed in this house!