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The Miraikan is going down the pan — in a good way

by Akira Okubo

Staff Writer

Using the toilet is an everyday part of our lives, yet it’s something we rarely talk about in public. But it is of such importance, involving health, sanitation and human dignity, that perhaps it should become a topic of general discussion.

So why not visit “Toilet!? — Human Waste & Earth’s Future,” the latest special exhibition at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), where feces is not a dirty word.

Starting with an exploration of Japan’s most advanced and high-tech toilets, for which the nation is famous, this exhibition invites visitors to get to know their poop, describing the types of excrement humans produce, creative ways to use toilets, how toilets work in space, ideas for recycling our waste and details of sewage systems.

On a more serious note, it also explains how toilets have to be adapted in different situations to suit their users’ needs, such as in nursing settings, earthquake-stricken areas and in countries without proper sewage systems.

Kids in potty training and others who want to learn more can benefit from various children’s attractions designed to be both entertaining and instructive. There’s a toilet that complains, toilets that sing, and if your kids are being really crappy, you can flush them down a toilet slide that leads to a virtual sewer world.

“Toilet!? — Human Waste & Earth’s Future” at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Koto-ku, Tokyo, runs till Oct. 5; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Tue. Admission is ¥1,200 for adults and ¥600 for children. For more information, call 03-3570-9151 or visit www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en. (English/Japanese).