Museums Off the Beaten Track
Japan is rife with museums of all shapes and sizes. There's the National Museum in Ueno, MoMAT in Tokyo, and Yokohama's Museum of Art. There's also the Silk and Doll Museum in Yokohama, and Shibuya's Bunkamura. Japan's food manias are even immortalized, like at Shin-Yokohama's Ramen Museum.
But lesser known are the scores of the more peculiar palaces of provocative pieces. Here are two of the most unsual to whet your curiousity.
Parasite Museum, Meguro
"Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, and take the time to learn about their wonderful world of the parasites." is the catch phrase used to attract visitors to Meguro's Parasitological Museum.
Established in 1953, the MPM has achieved international cult-level status and receives hundreds of visitors each year. On display on its first floor are roughly 300 samples of the 45,000 specimens the museum has collected. The second floor houses a 8.8m tapeworm taken from the body of a 40-year-old man! And yes, like most museums in Japan, the MPM has a gift shop where you can buy parasites in plastic key rings, tee-shirts, and other odd things.
Mondays: Closed (except national holidays)
Free (donations graciously accepted)
Nearest Station: Meguro Station (JR Line)
15-minute walk from the West Exit
Local Sewage Museum, Kodaira
The Museum of the Sewerage, located in the peaceful city of Kodaira in western Tokyo, is an unassuming building with two floors above ground and five below. They have lecture rooms, rooms where you can watch and learn about the history of sewage and the sewage process, as well as use microscopes to view microbes that clean waste water. But its main attraction is 25-meters underground, where you can enter an actual sewer trunk line and sense the colours and smells of the real thing (trust me, it isn't nearly as bad as it sounds).
After 13 years in Japan, it's still one of the most memorable places I've ever visited.
Tuesdays-Sundays: 10:00-16:00 except for year-end and New Year holidays
Nearest Station: Takanodai Station (Seibu Kokubunji Line)
7-minute walk from the station
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