Kyoto International Manga Museum- a guide to the home of 300,000 manga
The Kyoto International Manga Museum has become the mecca of manga fans everywhere, housing a massive 300,000 strong collection. The museum showcases the development of the manga industry over the years, and holds events and exhibitions that give insider peaks into the industry.
The first very noticeable thing in the museum is the giant phoenix, which honours the legendary manga artist Tezuka Osamu, best known for Astroboy. Depending on the day and weather, the lawn that the phoenix overlooks may be open to visitors.
Inside the museum there are hundreds upon hundreds of manga, stacked in shelves that reached the ceiling. The manga are separated by genre and divided among 3 floors. Don’t be fooled by the word museum, these manga are all for reading!
At the entrance there are ticket machines and a gift shop selling various manga & anime merchandise. The staff will guide you through the ticket purchase, and I had no problems purchasing them.
Right after the gift shop, there are shelves of manga in foreign languages, including English. Many of these were popular titles such as Death Note and Naruto. So if you do visit, come early so you have the time to grab a manga and start reading! The rest of the manga in the museum are in Japanese.
Photographs are not allowed in the museum (except certain areas where it is indicated), but I didn't realise this until I started writing this article, so I took lots of photographs. This is something I strongly discourage though, as disobeying such rules is largely frowned upon, and staff will angrily tell you to stop if you are caught.
Perhaps the museum's most interesting exhibit, "What is Manga" is the permanent gallery located on the second floor exhibiting the chronology and evolution of Manga through the years, and its impact worldwide. You can also take a look at the Manga tools displayed.
The other really cool exhibition is the Manga Artists' Hand exhibition, which are plaster casts of over 100 artists' hands. This includes those of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, founder of Japan's most famous animation studio, Studio Ghibli.
Similar to the hand casts, the museum is also decorated with hand drawn Maiko Illustrations by 100 different artists, in their different styles. The Maiko are a nod to Kyoto's history. Have fun searching for all your favourites!
During weekends the museum hosts 2 permanent events, the portrait corner and the Manga Studio.
At the Manga Studio, you can watch invited professional artists as they draw, starting right from the initial pencil sketch! This is a rare opportunity where you can see how manga is really made, all the way to full color.
At the portrait corner, you can actually get a manga version of yourself drawn by their resident artists! You can select the artist to draw you based on their styles. It's a great way to commemorate your trip to the museum!
The museum also conducts group workshops to actually teach guests how to create Manga, commemorative bookmarks or badges! It is to be noted that all workshops are conducted in Japanese, and for the manga making workshop, you will be required to bring along an interpreter if you do not understand Japanese. In addition, advanced reservation is required. For more information, click here.
If you feel hungry while reading, you can head over to the cafe to grab a snack. Various artists who have visited the museum over the years have left illustrations and signatures on their walls including Urasawa Naoki, famous for Monster and Hayao Miyazaki.
Entrance fee: 800 yen (Click here for information on discounted pricing)
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (last entrance 17:30)
The museum is closed on Wednesdays and during the New Year's holiday period.