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Parasite museum aside, you won’t be saury for visiting Meguro

by

Staff Photographer

When Japanese hear the word Meguro, some might recall the old “rakugo” comedy “Meguro no Sanma” (“Meguro’s Saury”), about a samurai lord in the Edo Period who fell in love with the taste of saury, the fish that was considered humble fare for peasants and others on the lower rungs of Japan’s social ladder.

In the story, the lord and his men are starving while hunting in an area now occupied by modern Meguro and decided to eat saury grilled in a coarse manner by peasants in a desperate bid to end their hunger. But the taste was so spectacular the lord repeatedly ordered the fish after returning to his castle.

But the saury, cooked in a refined manner by servants, never tasted as good, the story goes. Eventually, the lord came to believe that only Meguro’s saury was good, although there was hardly a way to get fresh fish in the inland district.

Centuries later, Meguro, now part of central Tokyo, is still famous for saury. Last month, 7,000 saury caught in the Pacific off Iwate Prefecture were shipped in for the annual Meguro saury festival, which sees dozens of vendors grilling the fish over charcoal briquets to serve to visitors for free.

Apart from saury, Meguro is also known for Meguro Gajoen, a famed wedding hall that opened in 1931. The hall, designed to embody modern design and traditional beauty, was designated a cultural asset by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The owner founded the building as a first-class Japanese restaurant, but later added an annex with banquet rooms, guest rooms, a shrine, church and photo studio to create an “all-in-one” hall.

If you’d like to add a twist to your visit to Meguro, you may want to take a look at Meguro Parasitological Museum, which touts itself as the world’s only museum of the kind.

Unexpectedly, many young couples and girls patronize the museum, which showcases some 60,000 parasite species.

One of the main exhibits is an 8.8-m tapeworm. Beside it is a string of the same length placed for comparison. A young man visiting with his girlfriend kept his distance from the worm while she scrutinized it.

Two other visitors, Ayumi Goto, 19, and Shizuka Kameda, 20, said they were impressed by the vast collection.

This section, appearing on the first Monday of each month, offers a snapshot view of areas that may interest tourists.