KYOTO INTERNATIONAL MANGA MUSEUM (ATT.JAPAN ISSUE 36)
If you head north from Karasuma Oike intersection, you will soon see some classical buildings behind a large expanse of lawn on the left. It is the Kyoto International Manga Museum, the first comic museum in Japan.
Manga (Japanese comic books) is recognized as one of the most popular Japanese institutions in the world. Approximately 10,000 new comics are published every year, many of which have highly popular foreign language versions. The Manga Museum was opened in November 2006 and is run by Kyoto City and Kyoto Seika University, the only university in Japan to have a Faculty of Manga. The director of the museum is anatomist Takeshi Yoro, who is the well-known author of bestseller “Baka-no-Kabe.”
Some readers may wonder why the manga museum was opened in Kyoto. Are there any links between Kyoto and manga? The answer is yes, Kyoto is the birthplace of manga! “Choju-giga,” which is a picture scroll created in the Heian era (794-1192) and preserved in Kozan-ji Temple in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, is thought to be the root of manga as we know it today.
The museum is located on the former site of Tatsuike Primary School, which was closed 10 years ago. Old works of art created by students to commemorate graduation remain and make a heartwarming addition to the building. In fact, it is worth visiting the museum just to see the interior of the old elementary school. Vaulted ceilings and wooden floors retain the old atmosphere and show that the school was built to what was back then a very modern design.
The museum houses approximately 200,000 comics and includes foreign language versions such as French and Chinese. The walls are full of colorful comics and 50,000 comics are available for visitors to read. Boys’ comics are displayed on the 1st floor, girls’ comics are on the 2nd floor and comics for adults are on the 3rd floor.
If you want, you can take comics to read on the museum grounds. On clear days, people lounge around reading comics on the grass. Once you’ve paid the admission fee, you can re-enter the museum as many times as you like that day. The museum building includes Permanent exhibition rooms, special exhibition rooms, a Tatsuike History and Memorial Room, a gift shop and a tearoom. Picture-story shows are performed every day in Japanese and visitors are given the opportunity to try their hand at creating manga.
Visiting temples in Kyoto is of course fun, but why not visit the Manga Museum – a large manga cafe – for a rest?