Manga Museum

I paid a short visit to this fascinating museum, which opened its doors to the public last weekend – November 25, to be exact. Kyoto International Manga Museum is definately a very cool place for those who want to learn and explore the rich history of Manga.

[They even have shelves filled with Garo, the alternative avant-garde Manga-zine that existed during the period: 1964-2002.]

The museum currently has 200,000 Manga books, 50,000 of which are easily accessible by the museum visitors. Indeed, they built a 140-meter wide Manga Wall on the second floor. Kyoto Seika University (see the related entry: Japanese Universities Hiring Manga Professors) and the city of Kyoto collaborated to turn a closed-down elementary school (Ryuchi Elementary School) into this museum. The museum’s director is Takeshi Yourou (ICC profile page), a well-known professor/anatomist/author.


The museum seems quite successful so far. 1,400 people visited it on Saturday and additional 1,400 on Sunday. Locals are excited to see how their school was transformed. Long time ago, the students were not allowed to read Manga books at school (at least, they were frowned upon). Now, the place is full of Manga books!

Visitors are from all age groups. According to what the museum staff observed, the museum is facilitating kids, young adults, parents, and grandparents to really communicate with each other. There are many international visitors as well. When the museum opened on November 25, 30 people were waiting in line, only 3 of which were Japanese.

[Manga books in Meiji era. They are being converted into JPEG 2000 files, and some of them are freely accessible using an interactive kiosk terminal.]

I am so ignorant that I didn’t know Manga existed in Meiji era, i.e., about 100 years ago. The first Japanese Manga-zine is believed to be Eshinbun Nipponchi (published in 1874). Some of the classic Manga styles look pretty cool and they could possibly be reused for designing varieties of modern visual artifacts. In fact the museum is trying to design a model that facilitates such reuse.

Even though they’ve already collected a large number of Manga books, they don’t believe that they can collect all Manga books in the world in this facility. There are already many smaller places that archive Manga books and the museum is more likely to become the key “portal” for facilitating access to all Manga books in Japan (and beyond), rather than the ginormous central library for everything.

[There’s a room with a number of interactive games that allow visitors to simulate the process of making Manga. She just created her Oneesama-key Manga character by just click, click, clicking. ]

Manga, as media for expression and communication, is closely related to various kinds of academic disciplines. It can also provide rich data for historical and sociological analysis. It’s good that the museum has a floor for people who want to do Manga-related research.

But, again, the best thing about this museum is that it’s fun. One of the visitors said she, as a huge fan of Manga, was going to stay in the museum for the whole day!

Special thanks to Ichiro Abe of Kyoto Seika University / Kyoto International Manga Museum for sharing information and thoughts.

Related entry: From Anime Center to Manga Museum