April 17, 2007

by Megumi Matsumura


Manga is Japanese Culture

Manga, or Japanese-style comic books, have become an important part of Japanese popular culture. Do you know about Kyoto’s new International Manga Museum? Do you read manga now, or have you ever read Japanese manga? Please visit this new museum if you interested in manga culture. You will come to understand and enjoy manga more and more. Manga has a long history in Japan.

Origin of Japanese Manga

Have you ever heard of the Chou-ju-giga (鳥獣戯画)? This ancient picture scroll in the first so called manga in Japan, and it was painted in Kyoto. The scroll belongs to Koudaiji Temple and was made between the Heian and Kamakura periods. Its is unknown, but it is said to be one of the greatest examples of Japanese monochrome, or sumi, ink painting. The Chou-ju-giga consists of four scrolls that depict humorous characters, such as rabbits, frogs, and monkeys, fooling around.

A scene from the Chou-ju-giga.

About the International Manga Museum

The two-story building that became the International Manga Museum was once an elementary school, but it was closed because the number of school-age children had decreased in recent years. This museum is therefore a building that was recycled by the Kyoto municipal government and Kyoto Seika University. Kyoto Seika University has the only Manga Department in Japan and they helped establish this museum.

This museum has many materials related to manga, including magazines from the Meiji era and postwar Japan, precious historical data, and complete collections of contemporary popular comics in Japan, and also many from foreign countries. There are about 200,000 manga and other related materials in this museum. The International Manga Museum is a new kind of cultural facility that combines the functions of both a museum and a library. Visitors can read manga that fill the bookshelves all over the museum.

There is also a coffee shop, an animation corner, demonstrations by real manga artists, a gallery that features rotating exhibits, and a bookshop. The museum also holds seminars and manga workshops. On weekends, they put on kamishibai plays.

The price of admission

  School Child Adult
Price 100yen 500yen
closed ☆    Every Wednesday(If Wednesday is a national holiday the following Thursday)New Year’s holidaySpecial closings

l         2007/Sep. 3rd~6th


        /Nov. 31st ~Jun. 3rd

l         2008/ Jun. 21st~24th

Museum Hours 10:00AM-8:00PM (admission until 7:30PM)


Manga Culture

Recently manga have come to be regarded as an important area of culture. It is one tool that people used to obtain knowledge and communicate stories from a long time ago. Through manga, people can learn what Japanese traditional culture is —food, morality, emotions, passion, enthusiasm, dreams, and imagination.

Manga are not only comics, but also satire and kamishibai. Kamishibai is a picture-story show. Kamishibai (literally “paper play”) originated in the early Showa era. At that time, a kamishibai man came to neighborhoods to tell a story using pictures on paper on the street. He turned the paper as he told the story. He always came by a bicycle. It looks very simple, but it is difficult to get children to concentrate on a performance. A kamishibai performer needs good reading skills, so the he can change his voice for each scene and character. At the end of a play, the kamishibai man will always say: “the story will continue next time….” These days, kamishibai is often done at preschools. The kamishibai performer at the International Manga Museum is known simply as Yassan and he is a master storyteller.

Some people think manga are not a very good for young people and have a bad influence since some of them are very vulgar. However, manga don’t have only bad points. Please come to the International Manga Museum. You may find your favorite manga here. This museum will expand your view of manga.


Location / address:

Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0846 Japan

Tel: 81-75-254-7414

Fax: 81-75-254-7424

Nearest Station:

1-minute walk from Oike Station on the Karasuma Line

Tozai Line “Karasuma Oike” Station from exit 2.

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