Horsehoe Crab Museum-Horsehoe Crabs

In Kasaoka city ,Okayama, there is the only Horseshoe crab museum in the world! Visit a city where the people are never crabby(so sorry) and our arthropod friends are everywhere you look.

Picture of the Kabutogani Horsehoe Crab Museum
Sander van Malssen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Horseshoe Crabs

Horseshoe crabs are not crabs or even crustaceans. They are arthropods that live in marine and brackish waters in coastal areas. They are called living fossils because they have been around for 244 million years. They are an important part of coastal ecosystems, their eggs serve as a food source for birds, turtles, fish, and so on. I am also an important part of my ecosystem, without me, my local Indian restaurant would surely go under. Four species can be found in North America and Asia.

But they are in danger due to the destruction of their habitat for development, being used as fish bait, and because of their magic blood. Horseshoe crabs are vital to the Biomedical industry because their blue blood contains immune cells that are used in vaccines to detect impurities. Around 500,000 of them are harvested each year. We can thank them for the development of Coronavirus vaccines. Just like essential workers, they are forced to risk their health and are compensated in the form of empty praise. Unfortunately, not all individuals survive the blood extraction process. For those that survive, the blood loss can decrease the number of eggs that can be spawned. The blood Harvesting (note to self: great name for a Scandinavian Death Metal group) is great for us but severely impacts these gentle armored creatures.

Picture of an Atlantic Horseshoe Crab
Kaldari, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Kasaoka is a coastal city in Okayama prefecture that faces the Seto inland sea. It is a 45-minute train rain from Okayama Station, It is also can be accessed from Hiroshima Station in the same amount of time by Shinkansen. It is famous for its plentiful and fresh seafood. Its most famous dish is Chicken Ramen, it uses chicken broth instead of pork and is topped with pieces of chicken. The Kasaoka islands are a popular tourist destination, they have beautiful beaches and you can visit a traditional fishing village on Manabe island where cats outnumber the people. Kasaoka is most notable for the subject of today`s post Tachypleus tridentatus or Japanese Horseshoe Crabs. Kasaoka is home to breeding grounds of Japanese horseshoe crabs designated as a natural monument in Japan. But the habitat and the horse crabs are dwindling to land reclamation by the city of Kasaoka. The first and only Horseshoe crab museum was created to breed and release hatchlings as well as to educate the public to promote conservation.

Horshoecrab museum

A short bus ride away from Kasaoka station is the Kabutogani Horseshoe Crab Museum. Kabutogani is the Japanese word for Horse crab. It comes from Kabuto, a type of helmet used by samurai and gani meaning crab. The museum was designed to resemble a Kabutogani.

At the museum, you can see live Horseshoe crabs. They are not the most exciting things to look at but the museum has many interactive and interesting exhibits. The museum is much larger and more state of the art that I thought. The museum is very kid friendly. There are interactive games and a movie theater showing movies about Horseshoe crabs. English signage is scarce but the museum is very visual so you should be able to make do without it.

You can also visit the nursey where the eggs are hatched and the grounds where the hatchlings are put to mature. Once they are big enough, they can be released into the wild, helping to strengthen the number of Horseshoe crabs in Kasaoka.

For more information about the Kasaoka Horseshoe Crab museum, click here.

Dinosaur Park

As Horseshoe crabs have been around since prehistoric times, there are also many dinosaur displays in the museum. The dinosaurs are thought to have used the crabs as a food source.

Located on the grounds of the museum is a large dinosaur park. This is the perfect place to take your kids. Lots of dinosaurs for them look at and tell you endless facts about for all of eternity.

Other Horseshoe crab sights

Finally, here are few photos of Horseshoe Crabs related things that took throughout Kasaoka.

How to Get There

From Kasoka station, take a bus on the Konoshima line and get off at Kabutogani Hakubutukan Mae. It takes around 20 minutes.

Hours: 9am to 5 pm(Closes on Mondays, day after national holidays, and December 29 to January 3rd)

Admission: Adults-520 yen , High School Students-310 yen , and Elementary and Middle School students-210 yen