Are you interested in manga?
Then you definitely should visit Kansai, especially Kyoto.
Why, you ask? Japan is the country of manga, so it doesn’t matter where you go?
It’s true that you can find manga pretty much everywhere in Japan in various bookstores, second-hand shops such as Book Off or Mandarake. Then there’s the Ghibli Museum, various huge anime and manga figures stand tall in public places. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’ll tell you today why you definitely should visit Kansai if you like manga, especially if you’re interested in their history and origin.
International Manga Museum in Kyoto
Let’s start with the famous Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム, Kyoto Kokusai Manga Museum). It was opened in 2006 (I went there in 2007) as the first comprehensive center for manga culture in Japan.
You can find the world’s largest collection of manga related material (over 300,000 different items). There’s also historical material from the Meiji period (1868-1912) as well as comics from other countries such as bande, desinee or manhwa.
Around 50,000 items are available for visitors. They can sit down, relax and read manga there all day long.
The museum also works together with comic artists from all over the world and regularly exhibits their work.
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Entrance fee: 800 yen (300 for jr. high, 100 for primary school students)
Holidays: irregular maintenance days, Wednesdays and New Years Holidays
Access: You can get to the museum by taking the Karasuma or Tozai Subway Line from Kyoto Station and getting off at Karasuma-Oike Subway Station. It’ll take about 5 mins. From there it’s just a 2 mins walk.
The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka
Well, the International Manga Museum in Kyoto was already quite nice, but now let’s have a look at the man who’s called “The God of Manga”, Osamu Tezuka.
Tezuka spent 20 years of his life there and his mother often took him to watch Takarazuka performances. The famous Takarazuka Grand Theater where you can enjoy the Takarazuka Revue is just a few steps away from the museum.
The museum opened in 1994 and displays exhibits in the two categories “Takarazuka and Tezuka” and “Tezuka as an artist”.
It’s absolutely worth a visit if you’re interested in Osamu Tezuka.
Opening Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (you can enter until 16:30)
Entrance Fee: 700 yen (300 for jr. and high school, 100 for elementary school kids)
Holidays: Wednesdays, Dec 29-31, Feb 21-28/29, irregular closing days
Access: It’s just a short walk (~10 mins) from JR Takarazuka Station.
Kozanji Temple in Takao (Kyoto)
Kozanji Temple (高山寺) is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site located in the mountainous Takao region north of central Kyoto.
The temple has a long history and was established in the 8th century.
Well, that’s awesome enough, but what does this have to do with manga, you ask?
Stored within the temple grounds is a set of four picture scrolls (Choju Jinbutsu Giga, 鳥獣人物戯画, lit.: “animal-person caricatures”) dating back to the 10th-11th centuries.
The scrolls are read from right to left which is common for modern manga and novels in Japan. They’re also considered to be the first manga in Japan and are designated as a National Treasure.
At Kozanji Temple they display a precise replica of the original. Tokyo National Museum and Kyoto National Museum are exhibiting the original ones.
The scrolls feature animals in a satire of the court life of the Heian Period (794 – 1185).
Opening Hours: 8:30 – 17:00
Entrance fee: Free (500 yen during autumn colors season). 600 yen to see the manga scrolls.
Access: By JR bus from Kyoto Station to Takao (get off at “Toganoo” 栂ノ尾). It will take about 55 minutes to get there plus a short walk from the bus stop to the temple.
If you like manga, but even if you’re simply just interested in Japanese culture, you should at least visit one of those.
Tell me if there’s anything else why manga fans should visit Kansai besides all the stores I mentioned in the beginning of this article.