The History of Torture and Death Penalty in Meiji University Museum 


Ochanomizu is a pretty interesting town. From the Suidobashi exit of Ochanomizu station to the Surugadai-shita intersection of Meiji Dori, there are about 40 musical instrument stores along the road, and it is called a holy place of band players.


Then, from that Surugadai intersection, along Yasukuni Dori which goes toward Kanda area, there are ski and snowboard equipment shops standing that extend about 1 km. This place is also a holy place for skiers and snowboarders.

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Moreover, the other side of Yasukuni Dori from Surugadai intersection which heads to Jimbocho is the greatest town of books in the world. There are events related to books such as Jimbocho Book Festival and Kanda Used Book Festival, and many book lovers from other areas in Japan gather here. Many of the used book stores in this town have ancient documents, so many historians come here, too. And if you get hungry, let’s go eat some curry! Ochanomizu area is a famous curry restaurant spot and there are many popular restaurants.

This town is a really attractive place that has professional stores of various categories.


In this town with a mood of diverse culture, Meiji University is located in the middle. There is a free museum in Meiji University and I would like to introduce the Criminal Materials Department of that museum.

There are real materials that tell the history of suppression of human rights, such as historical Western instruments of torture like “Iron Maiden” and “Guillotine,” Japanese instruments of torture in the Edo period, and more others.


“Iron Maiden” is an instrument that has long iron needles inside an armor. It was said to be an instrument of torture, but those iron needles were put in later years and it wasn’t something original. So, in these days, it is considered that it was an item to shame people.


The guillotine was made during the late 18th century as “a humane execution equipment” that can reduce the pain of convicts. It was actually used until 1978.


A famous Japanese instrument of torture “Ishidaki Gougu” that puts a rock on the knees of a person sitting straight.


“Haritsuke Bashira” An execution method that ties a person to a pole and stabs the body with a spear. It was used to be done in Shinagawa and Asakusa.

This method was done to arsonists. After pulling the person all around the city by a horse, the one was tied to a pole and burnt alive at the execution ground. The body was shown to the public for 3 days after death.


The execution method called “Gokumon.” After the decapitation, the head was shown to the public for 3 days on a stand. This is the stand and there is a nail to fix the head and prevent to fall off.


A person who committed a crime gets a tattoo.

It is a label of criminals. Recidivists were put on to more severe punishment. Maybe this history is the reason why tattoos are difficult to be understood in Japan.



This exhibition is free of charge. It is open for people to see the world of crime and punishment and have a deeper understanding of respecting human rights. It is a small museum with 3 departments: Commodity, Archaeology, and Criminal Materials. It is a good place to stop by when you go to Ochanomizu.




JR, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line “Ochanomizu” Station

3 min walk


Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line “Shin Ochanomizu” Station

5 min walk


Toei Mita Line, Toei Shinjuku Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line “Jinbocho” Station

5 min walk



1-1 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

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