What’s the first thing you do in order to combat the dreaded jet lag having being awake approximately 20 hours on your journey over to Tokyo . . . well personally I’d recommend a trip to the local parasite museum. Sadly this recommendation would only work in Tokyo, since Meguro Parasitological Museum claims to be the only establishment in the world entirely devoted to these clingy critters.
According to a recent Atlas Obscura article it has become a go-to destination for dating young couples. So partner in hand I ventured along and the baffling rumours are true, we weren’t the only couple there and it was pretty busy for a little two floor museum.
Although mainly in Japanese, there are parts translated as well as interactive screens where you can select English translations. The extremely well presented wet specimens all clearly display parasitical evidence, which is highlighted with labels and magnifying glasses if it was at all unclear as to where the evidence was. Many specimens are fish, which for a sushi loving nation must be pretty eye opening.
Upstairs there was a brilliant case of slides, with one slide take out and displayed with a 3D arrow pointing to where it had come from; really simple but effective. Illustrated diagrams had touch screen panels beneath which you could use to zoom in on the images. There were also information panels which provided illustrated life cycles of parasites, including images of the effects of parasites on the body.
The gross star of the show is an 8.8 meter long tape worm, retrieved from a Japanese man in his 40s who had eaten infected raw salmon 3 months previously. It’s slightly transparent, delicate thing when you look up close and don’t thinking about what it is or where it was hiding. It’s certainly presented extremely well, contrasting against a royal blue background with a basic interactive in the form of a 8.8 m long tape that you can unravel to get even more of an understanding of its huge size.
I also got my very first Japanese stamp! If you ever go to Japan take a blank notebook with you because in most museums, stations and other sites of interest you can get a stamp as a memento of your visit. This doesn’t seem to work in the UK, if you put a stamp out in a museum I can guarantee that, unless you left it supervised, it would be stamped everywhere by the end of a busy day, but by some cultural phenomenon this doesn’t seem to be a problem in Japan.
Definitely worth popping in, it’s free, but donations are much appreciated.