Museums are the perfect place to learn about interesting subjects, like art history, dinosaurs or … parasites?
If you don’t mind being grossed out and have a stomach of steel, then a Japanese museum devoted to parasites should be on your travel bucket list. Founded in 1952, the Meguro Parasitological Museum focuses on invisible organisms that take over other beings’ bodies — essentially living inside them and wrecking unknown havoc.
The museum, which is a privately funded research center as well, is located in the quiet Meguro neighborhood in Tokyo and is a popular attraction for those interested in doing something very out of the ordinary. However, visitors be warned: there are a whole lot of very graphic photos and actual specimens (preserved in jars of formaldehyde, of course) that show exactly how these parasites infect both animals and humans.
The museum has two floors. The first floor, which is named the “Diversity of Parasites,” displays a variety of parasites that infect animals, along with maps of where certain parasites exist.
The second-floor exhibits are “Human and Zoonotic Parasites,” which show “parasite lifecycles and the symptoms they cause during human infection,” according to its website.
In other words, things get ugly — real fast.
According to Atlas Obscura, you can expect to see photos that show “severely distended testicles of the unfortunate human host of a tropical bug. Nearby, a giant herpetological parasite pokes out of a bottled turtle’s head.” The floor displays other photographs of human hosts whose bodies have been infected with parasites. These images are hard to look at, many showing in detail deformed body parts that are being destroyed from within thanks to parasites.
The museum collects and preserves about 60,000 parasite specimens, with 300 on display, so there’s a whole lot to explore should you decide you’re up for it. The crown jewel on display? A record-breaking tapeworm measuring to 28.9 feet. It’s the largest tapeworm in the world and was found inside a Japanese man who had gotten it from eating a trout. If you need to get a better sense of just how long it is, the museum exhibits the tapeworm alongside a rope of the same length allowing visitors to actually feel how disgustingly huge this mammoth of a parasite really is.
That’s certainly a lot to take in and you’ll have to plan your trip (and your meals that day) accordingly. Would you ever visit the parasite museum?