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Meguro and the Parasitological Museum August 25, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Culture, Science, Travel.
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Meguro Parasitological Museum

Ever wanted to visit a parasite museum? Of course you have. There’s only one in the world, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s in Tokyo in the pleasant southern suburb of Meguro. A friend of mine happens to live there (as does Danny Choo) and mentioned the museum to me as a local curiosity. Given my day job as a science writer, I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to see it.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum

The Meguro Parasitological Museum stands just two floors of a small converted office, attached to a small research institute. There are hundreds of specimens in jars, numerous ghastly preserved infested animals and some stunning facts, maps, and photos detailing the burden of parasitic disease around the world. Most of it’s in Japanese, but you can get the gist (though not the detail) from the limited English. And gawking is universal.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum

For the kaiju model fans, there are also some larger-than-life waxworks.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum
And for the easily bored, some interactive exhibits where you can see just which parasites infest your average bird, or human.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Important parasites of humans

Or what parasites you might find on your travels.

Endemic Parasitic Diseases in Japan

There’s also ghastly pictures of the disease burden, such as this one you can’t un-see.

Yes that is what you think it is

I was also impressed by the collection of public information paraphernalia, which I’m sure my colleagues at the Wellcome Library would appreciate.

Heh! Heh! This guy has snail fever!

I particularly liked this leaflet showing those fishing how to spot if their catch has parasites, and whether the fish is still safe to eat or not.

What's bugging that fish?

But my favourite part was the 8.8 metre long worm pulled out of some poor Japanese man – effectively demonstrated by a piece of string hanging next to it that you could pick up, unravel and get a real sense of how incredible this thing really was.

8.8m long parasite

8.8m long parasite
Measuring the parasite

And of course, the expected room of microscopes and slides. Here comes the science part.


Major discoveries of Japanese parasitologists

There was also a souvenir counter selling surprisingly awesome merchandise like custom T-shirts and keychains/earring replicas of the parasites encased in preserved glass. All profits of course go back to the museum’s upkeep. The counter often isn’t manned, but they direct you to use the phone and a researcher from next door pops over to take your money.

Parasite museum merchandise!

Yes, you’re not supposed to take pictures, hence my friend’s frantic waving and the blurry pic (>_<)

I was stunned by how many visitors there were (admittedly only about 10, but way more than I’d expected). And they leave interesting comments in the guestbook.

Visitor comments

Meguro Parasitological Museum is just 10 mins walk from JR Meguro station and well worth a visit. You can see my full photoset from the museum on Flickr.

But wait science fans! Meguro has more to offer you with its lovely parks, particularly Rinshi no Mori Koen. According to Time Out Tokyo (which recommends it as one of the top parks in the city), the park “started life as the Meguro Experimental Nursery in 1900 (later the Forestry Research Station) before becoming a public park in the late ’80s. The park’s handsome crop of trees includes towering zeklovas, poplars and camphors, as well as some unusual and foreign species. It also attracts a number of wild birds so ornithologists can put their binoculars to good use, and if you have the kids in tow there are several playgrounds for them to swing about on, as well as a splashing pond to cool off in during the summer months” (the playgrounds are fun).

Flying fox

Overall, Meguro seems like a lovely neighbourhood to live in: a good mix of greenery, local shopping areas, quiet suburban housing and very well connected on subway and JR. It also has one of the best traditional tonkatsu restaurants in town. Just what you want after an afternoon staring at parasites.

Tonkatsu restaurant



1. lmjapan - August 27, 2013

The image of that poor man infested with parasites is going to haunt me for the rest of the day. That being said, I’m now considering going here on my upcoming visit to Japan. Was the tonkatsu restaurant called Tonki? I’ve always wanted to try it.

ayasawada - August 30, 2013

That sounds right. It’s a pretty simple affair, but that’s what makes it so good!

Bill - September 1, 2013

That’s Tonki, yes, and well worth a visit. I ate there often when I lived in nearby Kami-Osaki (worth a stroll — it’s home to several old temples). I remember the museum as being less well-lit, though, and I had to wonder what sort of desperation led to teens using it as a make-out spot.

2. A week in Tokyo | Canned Memory - August 28, 2013

[…] Lovely little neighbourhood. Home of Danny Choo. I went to visit a friend, eat tonkatsu and visit the world’s only parasite museum (see separate post). […]

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[…] Mun-Keat Looi visits the world’s only parasite museum […]

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[…] [Update: If you like interesting museums and things that make you go 'eeww', there's one in Tokyo on parasites: check the link here.] […]

5. El Museo parasitológico de Meguro | :: ZTFNews.org - May 17, 2014

[…] Meguro and the Parasitological Museum, Canned Memory […]

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