I didn’t intend to go to such a place, I’ll admit. However since my companion for the day had begrudgingly biked from our hostel to Demachi Masugata Shopping District for my Tamako Market pilgrimage, I felt like I owed them. Also, I just didn’t feel like going to Arashiyama after biking around in the sun and the museum was waaaay closer to our hostel.
The museum is located inside an old elementary school so that in itself was a treat even if I wasn’t entirely interested in the manga. Some rooms are even displayed with information about what roles they played in the past and are meant to appear as if they are more or less preserved from that time. So it’s like a double museum.
I mean, I love manga of course. If I read Japanese this place would be even more amazing. We would pull random copies from the walls and walls of books and remarked how we had never even heard of the series despite there being tons of volumes of it. A recurring theme during my trip was just that. Seeing so many interesting looking manga and light novel series and lamenting that I would never get to read them.
At the beginning of the museum right after you pass through the gift shop, there are a number of international manga. I thought I recall seeing some English ones mixed in with the rest of the library but I can’t say for sure. Still, the beginning does over some English, German, French or whatever manga to give you an idea of the impact of these books overseas.
While we were there (and this was the reason my friend wanted to go in the first place) Eguchi Hisashi’s King of Pop exhibition was there. I can’t say I’m familiar with Hisashi but it was interesting and the video playing there of his sketches were very impressive and constantly had quite an audience.
only picture I have of the exhibit because you weren’t supposed to take pictures (not that that stopped me in the rest of the museum…)
Among the hallways and between rows and rows of books were two other smaller ‘exhibits’. One was rows of the 100 Drawings of a Maiko each by a different artist. We went over almost all of them and I saw drawings I recognized but I didn’t recognize the names of any of the artists unfortunately.
Another interesting feat was the models of the hands of various famous mangaka. I did recognize those names at least.
There was also a show going on for younger kids that was lost on us due to our lack of understanding. I caught a joke about Precure and Momoclo that made the audience go nuts with laughter but that was about it. Still, it looked really fun.
The best part of the museum is the ‘main hall’. The walls of the room are lined with what they’ve curated as the best manga of each decade up until the 2000s. In the middle is a huge exhibit with information on various things like Comiket (pictured way below are Naruto and K-ON doujins and I can’t believe I went to a museum to see bad K-ON doujins) and the doujin scene, how western comics are different, how mangaka make money (poorly, apparently) and even why piracy is bad but still has benefits that we can’t ignore.
To see the museum take such an impartial and neutral view is very interesting. It really made me feel like I was in a place that was taking this subject seriously and honestly wanted to preserve all of the history that’s mixed up in the medium.
All of these displays offer descriptions in Japanese and English (hence the international title) and it was very worth-while to read!
The aforementioned gift shop is pretty cool as well. You can get a commemorative coin with a couple of different designs but mostly it’s just anime stuff like expensive graphic tees (I almost bought an Iorin shirt for 6000yen orz) or random, say, P.A Works stuff like Shirobako washi tape (why didn’t I buy?!) and Lost Village key rings. They also had a small selection of English manga available which I thought was cute (it had a similar mark up to the Yen Press titles I saw at a book store in Shibuya though).
Admission to the museum is 800 yen for adults and we spent two or so hours there because there’s much more there that I haven’t even mentioned. Little exhibits scattered around that are interesting and informative.
I would definitely like to visit the museum again in a few years to see how it’s changed and would wholeheartedly recommend it! Hopefully you’re as pleasantly surprised as I was.
- Posts about my super awesome trip to Japan are not in chronological order! They’re just in the order I felt like writing about them!
- I’m writing about this stuff months after the fact so if any information is wrong, please correct me so I can correct the post! Research was very important to my trip and I don’t want to lead anyone astray.
- I don’t know why anyone would want to but if you use any of these pictures elsewhere please try to link back to the blog!
- Read about the rest!