Visiting the City of Meguro: A Special Ward in Tokyo, Japan

Taking a trip once in a while is one of the many ways to refresh one’s mind and body. Having to study or work for numerous hours every week, the energy of most people tend to go down the drain after some time. Refreshing the mind, body, and soul can be considered essential in order to re-energize and be able to start anew after a short trip. There are many places that a person can go to in order to relax. One can travel either locally or internationally depending on the available budget and time. While some people may opt to go around Europe, others may prefer to visit Asia and unravel the many different cultures and experiences that it has to offer.

There are several countries that one can visit in Asia that would surely provide great places, scenic views, and an overall experience unlike any other. However, probably among the top places or countries to go to in Asia is Japan. Also known as the Land of the Sun, Japan is quite popular to tourists from all over the world because of its magnificent mountains, extraordinary culture with its rich history and developing pop culture, beautiful cherry blossoms, and kind and helpful people.

A Basic Guide in Visiting Meguro: Maps, Schools, Stations

There is a multitude of places that can be visited when in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido. Tourists usually visit per city or metropolis per trip as going around these places may take up to a week or more. For Tokyo alone, places that should definitely be visited can vary depending on the part of the metropolis. Top places to visit all over Tokyo are Akihabara, the Imperial Palace, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Skytree, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Odaiba, and Roppongi Hills to name a few. Now, these places are located in varying parts of Tokyo alone. It may be a hassle and a lot tiring to visit every single one in just one visit.

One would like to recommend setting a day aside of that trip to visit one of the more relaxing places in Tokyo, which is Meguro. Considered a special ward in the metropolis, Meguro was founded on the 15th of March in the year 1947. The place itself is more of a residential area unlike the other busy and commercial places in Tokyo, although there are light industry, corporate head offices, and foreign embassies and consulates in Meguro. It also houses certain schools like the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. There are also public schools in the area such as Geijutsu High School, Komaba High School, and Meguro High School. Jiyugaoka, Nakameguro, and Kakinokizaka are only some of its residential neighborhoods.

With only a total area of 14.67 square kilometers, Meguro has a population of approximately 277,171 persons. With this, the ward has a population density of 18,890 persons per square kilometer. Looking at a map, Meguro is surrounded by four other special wards. These wards are Shibuya in the northeast, Shinagawa in the southeast, Setagaya in the west, and Ōta in the south. Districts in the area include Aobadai, Kamimeguro, Nakachō, and Higashiyama.

Meguro is also quite accessible by railway and highway. Through rail, there are three lines under Tokyu Corporation namely Tōyoko Line with Naka-Meguro, Gakugei Daigaku, Jiyugaoka, Yutenji, and Toritsu Daigaku Stations; Ōimachi Line with Midorigaoka, Jiyugaoka, and Ōokayama Stations; and Den-en-toshi Line with Ikejiri-Ōhashi Station. Another line is the Keiō Inokashira Line, which is under Keio Corporation, with Ikejiri-Ōhashi Station. As for highways, one can take either Route 3 or Shuto Expressway Shibuya radial route or Central Circular Route C2 after completion.

Places to See in Meguro, Japan: Meguro Museum of Art, Meguro Parasitological Museum, and Meguro River

While Meguro is mostly composed of a residential area, there are still notable places that visitors can check out when they visit this special ward. First up would be the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo or the Meguro-ku Bijutsukan in Japanese. An art gallery in Tokyo, the Meguro Museum of Art was established in November of the year 1987. Made of reinforced concrete and designed by Nihon Sekkei, the building is composed of a single basement floor and three storeys above ground. The total floor area of the building is 4,059 square meters.

Located at Meguro 2-4-36, Meguro-ku-Tokyo, the museum is accessible as it is only a ten-minute walk from Meguro Station. It holds permanent collections from various artists and also frequent exhibitions for upcoming artists. Artists such as Tsuguharu Fujita, Kazuo Sakata, Zonzōrō Kojima, Kumi Sugai, and Shikanosuke Oka have their works permanently displayed in this museum. This museum would be a great place to visit for art aficionados.

If one is looking for something different, then head on to the Meguro Parasitological Museum. Also known as Meguro Kiseichūkan Wa in Japanese, the Meguro Parasitological Museum is considered a small medical museum. Not for the queasy, the museum is filled with parasite specimens that are displayed for all visitors to see. This museum would be great for people who are interested in parasites or in the science of parasitology. There are educational overviews of how diverse parasites are in the natural world. Their life cycles, their contributions to nature, and their effects on human beings can also be learned inside the museum.

Founded by Dr. Satoru Kamegai in the year 1953, the museum is currently composed of two floors. Some of the information displayed include the nematode, the trematode, and the tapeworm, all of which have certain effects on human beings. Preserved specimens displayed can amount to 300, with a Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense tapeworm measuring 8.8 meters or 29 feet long. The museum also houses a research library that has 60,000 parasite specimens, 5,000 books written about parasitology, and 50,000 papers focused on the subject of parasites.

Gifts and other souvenirs can also be found on the second floor of Meguro Parasitological Museum. These include a museum guide, t-shirts, postcards, and cellphone straps. These straps come along with real parasites that are embedded in acrylic. These parasites may either be the Nybelinia surmenicola or the Oncomelania nosophora. This museum is definitely a must-see for people who are looking for something extraordinary.

Another museum that one may be interested in is the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. Also known as Tōkyō-to Teien Bijutsukan, it is just at the east of Meguro Station. The Art Deco building, which was established in the year 1933. The interiors of the building was designed by Henri Rapin while the decorative glass featured by the structures was designed by René Lalique. On the other hand, the architectural design of the museum was made by Gondo Yukichi, an architect from the Works Bureau of the Imperial Household Ministry.

The building itself has a rich history. It used to serve as the residence of Prince Asaka Yasuhiko and his family from the year 1933 to the year 1947. Then, from the year 1947 to the year 1950, it was used as the official residence of the Prime Minister. After that, from the year 1950 to the year 1974, the building served as a State Guest House. Many important people have stayed and lived in the building before it was officiated as a public museum in the year 1983. Currently, the museum is among the several museums in the country that is being supported by a prefectural government.

Based on the name itself, with “teien” meaning “Japanese garden,” the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum is surrounded by a beautiful garden along with other sculptures. Because of its significance, the museum underwent an extensive renovation back in the year 2013 and only re-opened on November of the year 2014. A new structure called the Teien Museum Annex was designed in coordination with Hiroshi Sugimoto. The new annex houses new exhibition spaces, a museum shop for visitors who wish to purchase souvenirs, and a café for people who wish to relax after strolling around the museum.

Last but definitely not the least is the Meguro River. Also known as Meguro-gawa in Japanese, Meguro River flows into Tokyo Bay. The Kitazawa River and the Karasuyama River are some of its tributaries. The river also runs 7.82 kilometers or 4.86 miles long. The basin size of the river is 45.8 square kilometers or 17.7 square miles. It is considered as an urban green space for neighborhoods that stand along the river. Its location is also quite close to the source of the river in Setagaya. Furthermore, Meguro River is also divided into two parts vertically. One part is a huge storm drain that can be found under ground while the other part is an ornamental stream of water that is formed at a shallow level.

Probably the most sought-after attraction in Meguro, the river is located near Nakameguro Station. Visitors flock to this place during the cherry blossom season. Usually in early April, around 800 cherry trees stand along the Meguro River for hundreds of meters. A lot of people start planning going to Meguro as early as March. The view is certainly a sight to behold. It is also jam-packed during the Nakameguro Sakura Festival, wherein the cherry trees are lit up at night, perfect for romantic walks.

Staying in Meguro: Hotels in Meguro-ku

 Because Meguro is not that big of an area for extensive activities, most people just tend to do daytrips. However, if one would be catching the Nakameguro Sakura Festival at night, there is a chance of one staying overnight in the area. There are hotels in Meguro that are great for visitors so they can relax after a long day of walking and other activities in Meguro. One hotel that one may be interested in staying in is The Westin Tokyo. Located at 1-4-1 Mita, Meguro-ku, the rooms in this hotel can be considered elegant. Moreover, their rooms are also well-furnished accompanied with huge bathrooms that would be great to relax in after a long day. As for those who would like to exercise in the morning or before going to bed, there are also workout areas in the hotel. They also offer a number of services in their house spa.

Another hotel that would be great to stay in while in Meguro is Tokyu Stay Meguro-Yutenji. Located at 2-15-7 Yutenji, Meguro-ku, this hotel is part of the Tokyu Stay chain. Business travelers usually stay in this hotel as their rooms are usually accompanied with small kitchenettes, washers, dryers, and free Wi-Fi access. If one would extend his or her stay in the hotel, there are also small discounts that would be offered. This hotel is also accessible as it is near Yutenji Station.

Restaurants to Try in the Area: Ichariba, Ju, and Tonki

Another thing that Meguro is famous for in the country is the Pacific saury or the sanma in Japanese. A specific breed of ocean fish, the Pacific saury is not exactly fished in the area although its popularity originated from an old tale. A Sanma Festival is usually held in Meguro in September wherein local vendors grill the said fish for visitors to enjoy.

There are also several restaurants that one can try while in the area. First restaurant would be Ichariba. It is open everyday for lunch and dinner. Authentic and delicious Okinawan food is their specialty while their must-try is the bitter gourd stir fry or the goya champuru in Japanese. There are live performances of Okinawan music at times in this restaurant that anyone can enjoy. After a full meal, one may opt to walk in the park to let the food go down the digestive system while enjoying fresh air.

Another popular restaurant to try is Tonki. Specializing in breaded deep-fried pork cutlets or tonkatsu in Japanese, Tonki is a well-known restaurant not just for its great food picks and service but also for its friendliness among foreigners who are mostly English-speakers. No matter the age, one can be guaranteed to enjoy their tonkatsu because of the juiciness of the pork and how well they cook and prepare the meal. Most guides would direct visitors to try this place as it is quite popular in the area.

There are definitely a lot more places to visit when in Japan. On the other hand, even a small residential area like Meguro still has a lot of offer. Despite it being “tame” in comparison to other cities in the country, this special ward has its own distinct attraction that has not let visitors down. The relaxation and rejuvenation that one may feel when strolling around Meguro are definitely unlike any other.