Journey in Japan Part 38: Parasite at the Museum

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Today is a public holiday all about respecting the elderly and celebrating long life. There are fifteen different public holidays a year in Japan, and with the recent introduction of the ‘Happy Monday System’, many of the holidays have had their date changed to Monday; this is to give the Japanese people a three day weekend. Today I am in perpetual agony with a toothache, but thanks to the elderly, all of the dentists are on holiday. Not wishing to bare one’s teeth, I struggle on in pain.

My first stop today is Shibuya Station. With most of the country off work today, the area is overcrowded and annoying. I grab a bottle of drink that claims to contain one thousand lemons (which I very much doubt), before walking in the sunshine toward Harajuku, in search of some illustrious graffiti. On the way I pass Yoyogi Park; here there are swarms of teenage girls all standing around waiting for some sort of ‘summer concert’ to start. I decide to pass on the concert. In Harajuku, it is just as crowded. I wander around side streets but find the graffiti to be somewhat lacklustre. I take just one photograph, before walking back to Harajuku Station.

I take the Yamanote Line to Meguro, which translates to mean ‘black eyes’. After eventually finding a map, I discover that my destination isn’t marked, so I search for a Seven Eleven and use their free wireless Internet. I then head to the Meguro Parasitological Museum; the only parasite museum in the world, I might add. I am surprised to find it open on a public holiday, and I am even more surprised to find that the entry is free.

If you are looking for a cheap destination for a romantic afternoon, then the Meguro Parasitological Museum is for you. Here, there are jars of parasites, magnifying glasses for that closer look, and an interactive screen displaying the life cycle of a parasite. There is even a small souvenir shop selling shirts depicting parasitological dissections; finally, a gift shop selling something worth buying.

With appetence faded, I leave the museum and decide to pass on lunch. I take the Megura Line six stops to Ōokayama Station. Each time the train starts up, it sounds like a jet engine. I change at Ōokayama to the Tōkyū Ōimachi Line; this train also sounds like it is about to take off as it leaves the station. Eventually, I land in Jiyūgaoka.

Jiyūgaoka is often voted as one of the best places to live in Tokyo. The streets here are a cluster of expensive clothes shops and shops selling expensive cakes and sweets. There are signs outside a few of the stores that say, “Women only.” The roads here are even pedestrianised during the daytime, making extra space for the many crowds. My intrigue takes me to a place called, “Sweets Forest.”

Sweets Forest is an indoor theme park full of cake shops and overpriced candies. For no reason, traditional Irish folk music is playing inside. The thought of eating sweets brings more pain to my teeth, so I decide it is time to leave. I take the Tokyu Toyoko Line to Shibuya, changing to the Ginza Line before heading home.

Back at the hostel, everything is annoying me. People asking each other the same questions. People speaking in languages that could well be English yet I can’t be sure. People making too much noise. Everything is getting on my nerves. My mind can’t focus. I try writing, but I am distracted by the pain in my teeth and now jaw. Tomorrow I have the daunting task of visiting a Japanese dentist. A friend jokes about how dentists here continue to administer pain, even when you scream and raise your hand to signal them to stop; or how rather than fixing your problem, they just remove your teeth.

With my mind consumed by pain, I try to get an early night. I head off to bed at 9 pm; although sleep, I expect, will be somewhat limited. Not a very happy Monday at all.

Read the next part of my Journey in Japan, where enjoy the Autumn Equinox by getting drunk on a boat by clicking here.

Or alternatively, click here to begin the journey from part one.

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