The world’s weirdest tourist attractions
When you’re travelling the world, along with the major highlights, you want to see some unusual stuff too, right? Weird tourist attractions are everywhere and many of them are actually pretty interesting. Others, not so much.
- a toilet museum
- a gum wall or
- an oversized banana…
… these might not be top of your must-see list.
Toto Museum, Kitakyushu, Japan
The world is full of some utterly bizarre museums. Some are devoted to such strange subjects as vibrators, hair, and even lawnmowers. Now Japan is the home of one dedicated to the mighty toilet. In the city of Kitakyushu in the north of Kyushu island, visitors can familiarise themselves with the history of the loo in Toto Museum.
The exhibition was opened by the local company Toto which has revolutionised bathroom culture. Where once squatting toilets dominated the picture, there are now automatic super loos almost everywhere in Japan. And Toto’s Washlet model from 1980 has paved the way. Today the high-tech version boasts an array of bonus features, like a built-in bidet, warming seats, and an air purifier. A vital product yes, but does the toilet really need its own museum?
The Big Things, Australia
Everything is bigger in Texas? Not always true: Australia is bigging up its reputation as the home of supersized stuff. The Big Things are a whole collection of bizarre tourist attractions. Oversized fruit, XXL animals and sculptures of everyday objects in giant format are found throughout the country to lure unsuspecting tourists.
The nonsense started in 1963 in Adelaide with the figure of The Big Scotsman. Shortly after, the madness spread with a dinosaur in Somersby and an XXL Banana in Coffs Harbour, which has now become a huge tourist attraction in every sense. Among other things it houses a souvenir shop. 150 Big Things are now available and they have long since reached cult status. What about those tourists who try to visit them all? Now that’s a road trip of epic proportions.
Gum Wall, Seattle, USA
If you’re a bit of a clean freak, you’re best to avoid the Gum Wall in Seattle. Maybe everyone else should save themselves the trip too. For indeed it’s obvious that this ‘tourist attraction’ involves the outer wall of a theatre which is plastered with countless colourful chewing gum.
The somewhat disgusting-looking tradition began in 1993 when visitors to the Market Theatre stuck their chewing gum on the wall and fastened coins on top. After several attempts to remove the mess, the gooey stuff was allowed to stay and within a few years, the Gum Wall ballooned into a saliva-lathered landmark. It was completely cleaned for the first time in 2015, but, you guessed it, since then the bright blobs have returned. Even some gum artists engage in a regular spot of sticky sculpture.
Hell, Michigan, United States
If you come from a place called “Hell”, you might as well make the most of it. And the inhabitants of Hell in Michigan have taken that idea fully to heart. Every pun you can think of appears on a postcard there. There is a fictitious “Damnation University”, the shops sell souvenirs such as death certificates and the participants in the annual running event through the town, receive a T-shirt that reads “I ran thru Hell”.
The origin of the unusual place name is controversial among residents. Some say that a German traveller passed through during his visit in the 1830s and exclaimed that the location was ‘so schön hell’ or ‘so beautifully bright’, which was subsequently taken up by the locals. Others claim that the name goes back to the founding of the state of Michigan. According to legend, the village founder George Reeves was allegedly asked how his town should be named for the future. His answer: “I do not care, you can name it hell for all I care.”