May 17, 2019

Meguro's Parasitological Museum

Tokyo is home to a number of odd curations but nothing tops the freakish Parasitological Museum. Here, you'll find all sorts of grotesqueness.

All sorts of parasites inside Meguro's freaky Parasitological Museum in Tokyo

Anyone who has done a bit of digging likely already knows that Japan’s capital features an eclectic selection of museums to choose from. No matter where your interests fall, there’s something for everyone in Tokyo whether you’re a hardcore history buff or a snobby art connoisseur. Still, despite the vast array of selections, it’s hard to imagine anything that can compete with the oddity of Meguro’s Parasitological Museum. This licentious facility was originally founded back in 1953 by Dr. Satoru Kamegai. Thereafter, the freakish festival was moved to its present location in Meguro in 1993. Of course, as the name suggests, this grotesque can of worms (pun very much intended) is devoted the science of parasitology. Ewww!

So, what is one to expect from Meguro’s Parasitological Museum? Well, the morbidly curious among you should know that this two-story exhibition space provides a thorough overview of all sorts of parasites. If you’re brave enough to quell your natural squeamish sensations, you’ll be greeted with over 330 well-preserved specimens to enjoy. Chief among these gross, vomit inducing exhibits is an appalling 8.8 meter long tapeworm. If that weren’t enough to turn you pistachio green in a matter of minutes, also know that the second floor emphasizes parasites that prey on human beings. Of course, the strangest thing of all is that this minuscule museum is actually quite popular and is sure to always draw a crowd. Hell, it’s even a well known date spot!

Lastly, in addition to its miscellaneous collections of ghoulish specimens, Meguro’s Parasitological Museum also hosts a gift shop on the second level. Here, visitors can purchase guidebooks, postcards, T-shirts, or mobile-phone straps with actual parasites embedded in acrylic. Just what all your friends back home want as a souvenir from Japan right? I can only imagine what the guys at Customs will think as they go through your suitcase…

Getting to Meguro’s Parasitological Museum

A sign at the entrance of Meguro’s Parasitological Museum

OK, so what should one do if they are interested in experiencing this vulgar carnival of all things parasitological? Well, as stupidly obvious as this is going to sound, know that Meguro’s Parasitological Museum is conveniently located in Meguro (duh). To get there, all you’ll need to do is take the JR Yamanote Line to Meguro Station. Compared to many of the other hidden gems that I cover on this blog, making the trek to the hideous hall that is Meguro’s Parasitological Museum is child’s play. Hell, I don’t even need to refer you to the ever helpful Hyperdia here as the Yamanote trains arrive every few minutes. If you can find Tokyo’s most popular loop line, there’s really no need to look up connections.

Now, once you’re in Meguro, all you’ll need to do is head down the hill towards the Shimomeguro (lit. “Lower Meguro”) area. Here’s a link to a Google Map to help guide you. As you can see if you give it a click, Meguro’s Parasitological Museum is a bit of a hike and will take you a good ten to fifteen minutes or so on foot. Nevertheless, it’s also a straight shot from the station and not really a challenge to find. If you’re adventurous enough to actually consider popping inside this aberrant depository of freakish lifeforms, you’re more that capable of finding the facility itself.

Attractions Near Meguro’s Parasitological Museum

An ornate wall decoration inside Meguro’s Hotel Gajoen

Alas, unless you’re the type of person who likes to spend hour upon hour staring at Mother Nature’s most hideous concoctions, a visit to Meguro’s Parasitological Museum is bound to take approximately only twenty minutes or so. Luckily, there’s another spot that I suggest you hit up on the way back. Known as Hotel Gajoen, this high-end ryokan was built back in 1931. The property is said to be modeled on artistic interpretations of the interior of the dragon god’s place (known as Ryugu-jo in Japanese) and has been described by many as a “department store of ornamentation.” Especially after the hideous horrors at the Meguro Parasitological Museum, a sight of beauty is just what the doctor ordered.

Before ending, know that every so often, Hotel Gajoen will sponsor an event or host an installation. Those visiting in summer are highly encouraged to check out the so-called Wa-no-Akari exhibit. This celebration of Japanese art has been going on since 2015 and is almost guaranteed to draw a crowd. The exposition takes place in Hotel Gajoen’s most historic areas so be sure to check out the facility itself as it is every bit as impressive as the exhibits themselves. Case in point, the beautiful relief pictured above is actually just one of the walls in this house of wonders!