Log out
My profile and settings
My bookmarks
Comment history
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign in to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
Back to profile
Comment Items
You have not left any comments yet.
you replied to a comment:
Saved Posts
You haven’t bookmarked any posts yet.

Limbitless is working to change the way the world thinks about artificial limbs.

learn more
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Sign up
Log out
Personal Information
This email is already registered
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Email and Notification Settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Send me Gates Notes survey emails
Send me the weekly Top of Mind newsletter
Email me comment notifications
On-screen comment notifications
Select interests to personalize your profile and experience on Gates Notes.
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Account Deactivation
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process.
If you would like to permanently delete your Gates Notes account and remove it’s content, please send us a request here.


What’s gross and better to see on an empty stomach? This museum in Tokyo

Welcome to the bizarre, creepy, and endlessly fascinating exhibits at the world’s foremost parasite museum.


You may want to skip lunch—and probably avoid sushi for dinner—when visiting the world’s foremost museum of parasites in Tokyo.

At the quirky and endlessly fascinating Meguro Parasitological Museum, which I toured during my trip to Japan in August, you’ll find hundreds of stomach-turning displays featuring creepy parasite specimens.

Some of the strangest-looking ones have resided inside the bodies of fish, turtles, pigs, and other animals. But by far the most horrific specimens are the parasites that have chosen humans as their hosts.

What steals the show is the world’s longest tapeworm. In 1986, this garden-hose length parasite was discovered living in the small intestine of a Japanese man. He had dined on a piece of raw salmon that was infected with a tapeworm egg smaller than a grain of rice. Over the next three months it grew and grew until it reached 29 feet long! (If you’re a follower on my Instagram account, you may have gotten a glimpse of this impressive specimen.)

The man who recovered the tapeworm from this unfortunate patient was Dr. Satoru Kamegai, the founder of Meguro Parasitological Museum. A physician, Dr. Kamegai started practicing medicine after World War II. At the time the country’s water and sanitation systems were in ruins and many people throughout Japan suffered from parasitic diseases. Dr. Kamegai became fascinated by the strange world of parasites and started collecting them from his patients. In 1953, he opened a small museum to display his findings and raise awareness of these creatures. Dr. Kamegai passed away in 2002, but the museum has continued to operate as a private research and educational facility.

Today, the museum has a collection of 60,000 different parasites, about 300 of which are on display in the two-story collection. Entrance to the museum is free and it draws a steady stream of visitors. It even has a gift shop with parasite-themed t-shirts, pens, and jewelry. (I picked up a t-shirt with the famous tapeworm on it.)

While I had a busy trip to Japan, I took time to stop at this museum because of our foundation’s efforts to reduce the burden of so-called neglected tropical diseases, many of them caused by parasites. More than 1 billion people suffer from these overlooked diseases with often difficult to pronounce names, including dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease), human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), visceral leishmaniasis (black fever), onchocerciasis (river blindness), and schistosomiasis (snail fever).

These diseases can cause anemia and blindness, stunt children’s growth, lead to cognitive impairments, complicate pregnancies, and result in thousands of deaths each year. And it’s not uncommon for people living in extreme poverty to suffer from more than one of these diseases at the same time, affecting their ability to go to school or make a living.

Our foundation works with partners on the treatment and control of these diseases. One of the most successful efforts has been mass drug administration, which seeks to treat everyone against a disease—even if they are not actually infected or show any symptoms. I observed this incredible work in Tanzania, where I joined a group of health workers going from house to house to distribute medicine to wipe out lymphatic filariasis, one of the world’s most painful and debilitating diseases. 

The good news is that there’s been a lot of progress in reducing parasitic diseases around the world. But there’s still more work to be done. That makes this museum a great place for people to learn about where these diseases still exist and the incredible work that’s going on to wipe them out.

If you happen to be in Tokyo, I encourage you to visit.