Did you know that the Japanese have a certain obsession with bathrooms? Yes, we can see anime with shit, god of the bathroom, golden shit standing out in a Tokyo building and much more. In this article, we are going to stay inside the culture of shit in Japan [unko].
Shit, poop or feces in Japanese is called unko [うんこ], which can also be used to refer to some shit, crap or trash. A literal word to refer to solid stools, which appear unthinkable somewhere in Japanese culture.
Unko - Stool in Japan
The Japanese turd got its name from unko, because un it is the sound of force when pooping. The ko [子] is used as a diminutive. Another word used for feces is daiben [大便] which also means excrement and shit.
In English, we have the habit of saying shit to talk about something bad, in Japan they use words like kuzo [糞] but this word rarely refers literally to shit, feces or excrement. The word defecate is kusomaru [糞放る]
Faeces in Japan are represented in a spiral shape, as it is very common to find motorbike style bathrooms (those with a hole in the ground where you squat), so kind of the expected shape of Japanese stool is really a spiral.
There is a company called UNCO that manufactures quality clothes, but after a while it started to manufacture products related to poop. We can find items such as t-shirts, socks, poop marks and crap characters.
What do you think of turkey emoji plushies? Or rather, what do you think about eating curry on a plate that looks like a toilet? These are some of the unusual things that we only find in Japan.
Kin no Unko - The shit of good luck
In Japan, there is the “good luck” poop known as kin no unko [金のうんこ]. This golden poop became a local icon simply because its sound ’un’at the beginning of the word unko matches the sound ’un’from the Japanese word for luck [運].
This golden shit became so popular that, in 2006, about 2.7 million cell phone keyrings similar to golden poop were sold. One of the main companies behind the gold shit is Kyoto’s Ryukodo.
Koji Fujii, president of the company, came up with the idea of making crap in late 1999. Due to Japan’s economic recession and depressed national climate. Koji wanted to offer a cheap product that would make people smile. So he got the idea from the toilet.
Some of the kin no unko are made of real porcelain and plated with 24-karat gold. A mini poop keychain can start at 105 yen, while a giant poop on a silky red cloth costs at least 2,100 yen.
The products went viral in 200 when high school girls on school trips started buying them as souvenirs. Children started a successful product boom, with news coverage from across the country.
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild we can find an item known as Hestu’s Gift, which resembles a Kin no unko. It is not known if it is a joke, since to get this gift you have to get all the korok seeds.
Some argue, with very credible reasoning, that this is where the ubiquitous and enigmatic smiling poop emoji came in 2014, used constantly and affectionately called by Japanese as unchi.
Asahi Beer Hall - The poop building
In Sumida, Tokyo has a building that stands out called Asahi Beer Hall, but also nicknamed Kin no Unko because of its resemblance to a poop. Construction is also sometimes called unko-biru which means poop construction.
Of course, that was not the original purpose of the building, as Asahi is one of the Japan’s most popular beer. The project was done by a French designer named Philipphe Starck and was completed in 1989.
The shape of the building is a glass of beer, designed to complement the neighboring building in the form of a golden beer mug that houses the offices of Asahi Breweries. It is considered one of the most recognized modern structures in Tokyo.
The golden structure at the top of the Asahi building represents the burning heart of Asahi beer, and a frothy head. The golden flame weighs 360 tons and was built using ships and underwater construction techniques.
The god of toilets
There are more gods in the Shinto religion than you can count, and they reside almost everywhere. The feces were also not left out. There are a few japanese gods which has strong connections with the bathroom.
Until recently, it was common to worship deities collectively known as benjo-gami (private gods), placing religious figures inside or under the toilet. Others buried divine figures under the bathroom.
In more traditional times, Japanese farms used to collect human waste for use as fertilizer. From this daily occurrence, the local belief in the god of the bathroom, also known as kawaya kami.
Because of its agricultural properties, kawaya kami also played a large role in promoting fertilization. Every new year, rituals were performed, asking kawaya kami for help in producing a good harvest next year.
In the ritual rice was eaten that symbolized something big that the god had left behind (is it feces?). Often, a bathroom was decorated and kept as clean as possible. Perhaps this god is why Japanese bathrooms are so clean.
There are also ghosts in the bathroom like Hanako-san and Aka-Cloak. Stories similar to the blonde in the bathroom where we need to do a ritual by repeating words 3 times. When will the bizarre stop?
Unko for children
Learning kanji is difficult for anyone, especially for young children. To try to alleviate the monotony of studying more than 1,000 kanji characters, Japan created the best child-friendly teacher, Professor Unko.
This spotted mustache, using emoji-style poop, was such a success that his books have sold over 1.83 million copies so far. Who knew a shit book is driving kids to learn Japanese?
To make matters worse, there is an anime called Unko San released in 2009. The anime tells the story of a fairy who can bring luck. Only this fairy is a poop, all the characters are poop, even the island is shaped like shit.
Dung Museums in Japan
We are not talking about bad things, but literally shit. There is a Japanese Museum on feces inside the Himeji Literature Museum. Among other exhibitions, we find "Excretory Literature", books on poop and related subjects.
Or rather, there is permanently and literally the Bosta museum in Tokyo and Yokohama. The museum was a temporary idea, but it ended up becoming a permanent attraction for Odaiba. A colorful place full of feces that receives 100 thousand visitors a month.
In this Museum, everything is shaped like shit or a toilet. Balloons, food, toilets with poop inside and lots of colorful and fun things for you to visit. Don't miss the chance to visit the dung museum in Japan!
These were some fecal highlights from Japan. I hope you enjoyed the article… Thanks for the comments and shares! To finish, watch a video of the turd museum: