There are those among us whose idea of a good time is to venture forth on a sunny autumn morning to go and see a jarful of roundworms. If you are one such—or if your thing happens to be tapeworms, arthropods or just miscellaneous collections of grisly things in specimen jars—you need the Meguro Parasitological Museum on your Tokyo itinerary. Legend has it that it’s a popular Tokyo date spot, but it’s also a great destination for small children and curious adults.
The Meguro Parasitological Museum was established in 1953, and today houses two compact—but splendid—floors of over 300 exhibits. The ground floor houses educational displays giving an overview of the evolution, role and status of parasites, and the second floor emphasizes parasites and humans, as well as a section on eminent Japanese parasitologists. The museum houses about 60,000 parasite specimens, as well as a sizable library of parasitological books and papers; there are also research parasitologists affiliated to the museum. For those not interested in the important role of parasites in human society, it also has jar upon jar of preserved parasites to look at.
Be warned, the premises is smaller than most museums, and because the museum is popular, you’re unlikely to have it to yourself. But it is justifiably popular: quite aside from the pull of unusual scientific exhibits (always a winner), the Meguro Parasitological Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. It has very solid, well-designed educational exhibits. It also has a gift shop for your nematodal t-shirt/postcard/tote bag/key ring needs, and an 8.8m-long tapeworm. Unsurprisingly, there is no museum cafe, but it’s situation in Shimomeguro means that you won’t have to go far before you can sit down and discuss the fascinating exhibits.
This is probably not a great choice of outing for the sensitive of stomach. (Pro tip: if you’re too squeamish for the first floor, don’t go upstairs! My traveling companion was a fetching shade of pistachio green after five minutes.) If you don’t speak/read Japanese, English guidebooks are available at the gift shop. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated.
If this museum is just not for you, check out our guide for normal Tokyo museums and art galleries.