Japanese summers are fun and full of activities that make the summers fly by. That being said, some days are just so hot that the last thing you want to do is spend it outside. That’s where Japan’s many manga museums and anime museums come into play.
You see, Japan is full of museums for you to enjoy your favorite Japanese media in a nice cool, air conditioned environment. Of course, there are museums dedicated to general manga history and Japanese anime culture, but there are also those that are dedicated to certain companies or production houses and to local artists. With so many, it may be hard to know where to go, so here’s some of our favorite anime and manga museums to help you beat the heat.
We can’t talk about manga museums without first mentioning the most popular one in Japan. The Kyoto International Manga Museum is pretty close to Kyoto Station by train. The building has four floors total and much of the museum is lined with shelf after shelf of Japanese manga. It has so much in fact, that many Kyoto Seika University students use it for research purposes.
However, what sets it apart from just being a manga library is the presence of foreign manga and comics, exhibitions about manga history or specific artists, and manga workshops. In other words, you can spend quite a long time here reading and staying out of the heat.
Plus, they have a cool gift shop with merch from some of their most popular offerings.
This Akita museum is actually Japan’s first manga-themed museum, opened in 1995. The Yokote Masuda Manga Museum was originally started with a donation of 42,000 drawings from Takoa Yaguchi, a famous manga creator. However, now, there are over 220,000 original drawings from about 180 different manga artists.
This museum has plenty of amazing exhibitions, workshops, and souvenirs, making it a great place to visit if you’re ever in northern Japan.
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Tokyo has its own fair share of manga and anime museums that are worth seeing. The Toshima City Tokiwaso Manga Museum is one of the more unique museum experiences out there, offering a look into the lives of manga masters, like “the Father of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, who once lived in the exact building.
Although it was dismantled in 1982, it was rebuilt in 2020 as both a manga museum and a detailed recreation of the lives and working spaces of manga artists. It even comes complete with over 6,000 works by artists related to this famous building for you to enjoy.
You may not recognize the name, but you’ve surely seen some of Fujiko F.’s work, and this museum is dedicated to this iconic artist. Fujiko Fujio F is best known for his work on Doraemon, one of the biggest titles in Japanese media.
This museum is located in Kawasaki, a city in Tokyo prefecture between Tokyo proper and Yokohama. Stay out of the heat with their special cafe, displays of the artist’s work, a screen that plays original videos that can’t be seen anywhere else, and a rooftop area to immerse yourself in Fujiko Fujio’s world. We particularly loved the Fujiko Fujio Museum Cafe.
Fun fact: Fujiko Fujio was part of a duo initially, with both Fujiko Fujio A and Fujiko Fujio F being from Toyama prefecture. If you head to Toyama, you can see plenty of their art and visit smaller museums about the men themselves (especially in my old stomping grounds of Himi and Takoaka city).
The Kitakyushu Manga Museum is a great example of cities promoting local artists. This museum in Kitakyushu City focuses on artists affiliated with the area and showcases work all the way back from the 1940s. In fact, the whole building is located in a manga and anime enthusiast’s dream. The building is a mall dedicated to merch for manga, anime, games, and even Japanese idol groups, with the museum being on the fifth and sixth floors.
This list just isn’t complete without the Tokyo museum showcasing the brilliant works of Hayao Miyazaki and the brilliant minds at Studio Ghibli. For lovers of Studio Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, the Ghibli Museum is a perfect place to escape the heat.
The museum, designed by Miyazaki himself, showcases permanent exhibitions about Studio Ghibli’s history and process, while year-long special exhibitions showcase specific movies or even other partner studios. There are even short films in their Saturn Theater that are only viewable here. You can also enjoy a reading area, cafe, and more.
You may not know the word, but seiyu (voice actors) are an important part of any anime. In Japan, voice actors can achieve a high level of stardom by featuring their legendary voices in iconic anime. They even show up on variety shows alongside mainstream film and TV actors.
So it should be no surprise that there’s a whole museum dedicated to what they do. At the Seiyu Museum, you can learn all about the voice acting process and how your favorite characters are brought to life.
Suginami may not be a popular Tokyo tourist area, but this museum is a must for anyone whether you’re an anime fan or just have a casual interest. The Suginami Animation Museum has tons of interesting displays, recreations, art, and more showcased inside.
However, what really sets it apart are the interactive elements of the museum. From voicing acting clips from the iconic Astro Boy to making your own animation in a DIY studio, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. They even have special exhibits and a theater running clips of different anime or anime studios.
Which manga museums would you like to visit? How about the most appealing anime museum? Let us know in the comments below!
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