The Meguro Parasitological Museum could be the most spine-tingling spot in all of Tokyo – and it’s definitely not what you’d expect to find in the city’s leafy residential Meguro district.
This strange place is the only museum in the world dedicated to parasites and, despite its distance from the bustling city centre, has become a popular tourist attraction among travellers looking to do something truly out of the ordinary (or those interested in dangerous organisms).
Founded in 1953 by Dr. Satoru Kamegai, the two-story space is intended to educate visitors on the diversity of parasites and their life cycles. Its research library contains 60,000 parasite specimens – 300 of which are on display – as well as 50,000 papers and 6,000 books on the subject of parasitology.
The ground floor of the museum is mainly made up of maps, outlining the country’s regions and which parasites live in each. There are also glass cases that showcase the various breeds of parasites known to infect animals.
Upstairs, however, things get a bit more personal, with the second floor space dedicated to parasites that infect human beings. Gruesome photographs show human hosts living with parasites, their body parts deformed and enlarged by the creatures literally eating them alive.
But the real-life specimens are far worse than the photographs; some of the displays present preserved parasites actually popping out of their animal hosts.
The most repulsive item on view has to be the record-breaking tapeworm. Measuring 8.8 metres (28.9 foot) – roughly the size of a London bus – it is the longest tapeworm in world and is exhibited alongside a rope of the same length so visitors can get a physical feel for just how enormous it actually was.
Head to gift shop for all your parasite-themed memorabilia needs. Tapeworm key ring anyone? How about a good-luck charm with an actual parasite embedded into acrylic? You can guarantee any gift bought here is something your friends won’t be able to find at home.