Kyoto (京都) is known to be Japan’s hub of traditional culture, and is home to literally thousands of temples. But this city holds a secret, a deep dark secret. Kyoto is actually an anime hotspot! If you can’t tell from the title, Kyoto is home to the Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュジアム)! And it’s exactly what it sounds like, a museum dedicated to Japanese comic books! Within the museum, you will find a massive library of nearly 300,000 items related to manga. The museum also holds lectures, workshops, classes, and other events. The museum is also a research center that studies manga for Kyoto University.
On the first floor is the standard entrance, gift shop, and cafe that all good museums have. There is also the Manga Expo at the entrance where you can read manga translated into English and other languages, as well as manga created in other countries as well (most of the manga in the museum are in Japanese). And right past the Manga Expo there is the Manga Studio/Portrait, where you can see young manga artists give demonstrations of how to draw manga and for a fee, will even draw your portrait. However, those are only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays. Then past the video and atrium halls you can find one of the many walls of manga! On the first floor the walls are full of shonnen manga (manga for boys). Granted, all of the manga are in Japanese, but it’s still pretty awesome to just flip through all the titles. And past that, there is the Children’s Library, which is full of manga aimed at children. It’s free for anyone to enter, but during busy periods (Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays) it may only be used by elementary school children and their parents.
On the second floor you will find the Tatsuike Memorial room that is a history to the elementary school (which was built in 1869) that is now the museum. There are some cool elementary-school textbooks that you can flip through and see original desks. Also on this floor, there is the Main Exhibition Room that has exhibits about the manga-making process, as well as a huge book-shelf with the “classics” of manga from 1945-2005. After that, stop by the Playhouse of Picture-Story Show, where you can see illustrations with narration by the picture storyteller. And in the Exhibition rooms, there are rotating exhibits that are definitely worth checking out. The walls of manga on this floor are dedicated to shojo manga (manga for girls). While exploring, be sure to stop by the Phoenix (火の鳥) from the manga of the same name by Osamu Tezuka.
Finally there is the third floor, that mainly just has its own wall of manga dedicated to seinen and josei manga (manga aimed at young adults.) There are also some research rooms there, but those types of rooms are available on other rooms as well.
The museum is also dotted with “Wall of Manga” search machines, where you can look up manga in the museum. It’s also not uncommon for people to browse the shelves, pick out the manga they want to read, and take them to a sitting area or even out in the courtyard and read/skim where they like. So if you are in Kyoto, be sure to give this amazing museum a visit. There is so much to see and do for any anime and manga otaku. You won’t regret it!
The museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM (admission until 5:30 PM), but is closed on Wednesdays. The museum asks that you do not photograph any copyrighted works (manga, exhibits, etc.), and refrain from using a cell phone inside the museum. Smoking is not allowed in any part of the museum, indoors or outdoors. It costs ¥800 (yen) per adult, ¥300 for high and middle school students, and ¥100 for elementary school students. There are also group discounts (at least 20 people are needed), and yearly passes are available for more long-term residents.
The museum can only be reached by public transportation. To get there, take Kyoto city subway, Karasuma line or Tozai line to Karasuma Oike Station (烏丸御池駅), take exit No. 2 and turn right immediately, turn left at the corner (at the Hello Work office) of the Karasuma Oike crossroad, and walk for about 2 minutes. The museum can also be reached by bus numbers 15, 51, 61, 62, and 63, which stop at Karasuma Oike Station.
For more information, visit the museum’s website.