Monday, January 23, 2012

Bio-Spot: The Meguro Parasite Museum.

Hello, Monday! Monday is Bio-Art day, but this Monday also starts "Big In Japan Week." That means every single entry will relate to something from Japan. This entry is no exception. (I decided to change it from "bio-art" to "bio-spot" for this one simply because not everyone would consider gift shop trinkets and a folded giant tapeworm artwork.)

As Bogleech rightfully pointed out, Japan is more fascinated with life than any other nation I've been to. Both the adults and kids were excited to see "Lion-san" at the Ueno Zoo. Apparently, they have a stronger science curriculum as well, covering all sorts of life forms that schools in the U.S. will not touch. They also possess the world's only known parasite museum. 

 Meguro is a suburb of Tokyo that has spectacular cherry blossoms every year, but the Meguro Parasitological Museum by itself attracts attention. It was established entirely by doctor Satoru Kamegai in 1953. Since then, it has been grossing out Westerners while proving one of Japan's most popular date spots. Only in Japan would they consider posing near a giant (8.8 meter) tapeworm an idea for a good date.


The museum is divided into two floors. The first has maps showing where certain parasites come from, as well as a general overview of parasites. The second sports all sorts of parasite specimens, showing their various life cycles and, sometimes, fully-preserved hosts. Somewhere, there is also a cafeteria with sushi. We do not think they deliberately put anything in there to go along with the theme, but after seeing the sorts of things that live in fish, it may be better not to eat the sushi. No offense meant.

So, where does the 'art' come into this? Parasites are extremely hard to take care of in a laboratory setting. That means that many specimens have to be mounted, which Japan happens to be good at. That tapeworm is more impressive folded like that than it would be in a jar, right? Plus, hey, they made a tapeworm T-shirt and sealed actual parasites into plastic. Stop making me want to go back to Japan, Meguro.

As the official site says: "Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, and take the time to learn about their wondrous and resourceful way of life." Good advice!


  1. I'll probably never get to Japan, but I'd love to get a look at that guide book.

  2. Replies
    1. Know anybody that would mail you one?

    2. Well, I -could- ask the nice people at J-list.

    3. Ooo, thanks for the tip. I didn't know about them.