Calling all Otakus! Are you an anime and manga fan? Are you planning your next big Japan trip? There are a number of places that every otaku needs to have on their bucket-list when visiting Japan. Most of them tend to be in Tokyo, such as Akihabara or Odaiba, but there is a hidden gem in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto.
Kyoto’s International Manga Museum is a must-see for any otaku, where you can spend all day relaxing with a good manga and some delicious food. Or why don’t you try out some of the hands-on exhibitions or classes that are offered?
The Kyoto International Manga Museum is the first international manga museum in the world to archive both modern and historical works related to manga for research and display. It opened on November 25, 2006, and is currently home to over 300,000 works from all over the world.
The purpose of the museum is threefold: open access to all resources in the museum for all whom visit; hold exhibitions, events and workshops for visitors; and gather and present any resources regarding manga in one single location.
*Photography is not permitted within the building in order to protect copyright. You may take photos outside in the courtyard and cafes though.
The Walls of Manga
The most attention-grabbing attraction in the entire museum is the endless walls of manga covering all three floors and the basement of the museum. The walls are divided into floor-to-ceiling high shelves sectioned from A to H, holding hundreds of thousands of manga throughout the years of manga production, from 1945 to present day works. Walls A to H are on the first three floors and the basement is home to the manga archives for research purposes.
The Wall of Manga is divided as follows:
1st floor – Shonen Manga [Manga for Boys]
2nd floor – Shojo Manga [Manga for Girls]
3rd floor – Seinen Manga [Manga for Youth/Adults]
The manga are arranged by the authors’ name on each respective floor.
You can take any of these manga to read within the museum grounds, including the courtyard. When there is nice weather, especially on the weekends, you will find many people outside reading their favourite series, some even in cosplay.
While the majority of the manga is in Japanese, the first floor of the museum by the entrance, the “Manga Expo”, also contains foreign and translated manga from all over the world.
Before it was a museum, the building used to be an elementary school that was built in 1929. However, the school closed in the late 1990s and Kyoto city had ultimately decided to renovate the building into what it is today.
Fun Fact: Tatsuike Elementary School had been closed down due to the doughnut effect and decline of children attending the school. The school had been ultimately merged with four other schools in the area to form Gosho Minami Primary School.
The general detail and architecture remains the same, including the extremely creaking floorboards, which add to the museum’s charm. In addition to the architecture, there is also a Tatsuike history room within the museum as an exhibit, allowing visitors to see photos and texts from the old students at the school.
Events, Workshops, and Services
Not only does the museum offer manga to read, there are also various events and workshops held throughout the week, with some limited edition ones from time to time. Most of the workshops are only held on the weekends and national holidays, though.
Some of the normal events are:
Kamishibai – “paper play”
The manga museum puts on a traditional story show for children in the courtyard, though all visitors are welcome. This is a great chance for you to witness some traditional Japanese culture at work.
Manga Studio – On weekends and holidays, you are able to watch professional manga artists at work drawing on the first floor near the courtyard. This is a one of a kind opportunity and sometimes you might even be able to catch your favorite manga artist at the museum working their magic before your very eyes.
Workshops – You can also learn from the pros themselves the various skills it takes to work in the manga industry—from being an artist’s assistant to the actual artist themselves.
If you are aspiring to become an actual manga artist, you may reserve a full professional course and get all the help you need to reach your goals. The staff are extremely helpful and the artists that take time to help and advise you are wonderful. The skills they teach you in this course are extremely practical as well.
**Disclaimer: Photographs taken within the museum here were done with the consent of museum staff for the purpose of the article.
On the second floor of the museum, you will always be able to find a few different exhibitions going on. There are at least two different exhibitions on the floor throughout at one given time; one of them being a permanent exhibition highlighting the history of manga and how it has evolved. The other exhibitions are limited run exhibitions and vary with changing themes and artists.
These exhibits are always changing, making them all the more fascinating to see while you can! It also keeps the museum interesting to long-term visitors, so that there is always something new see while there.
Past Year’s Exhibitions:
Masters of Plastic Model Chapter 2: March 19 – May 29, 2016
Ueyama Tochi’s 9th Serving of Manga Cooking – April 17, 2016 2 – 4 pm
Doboku and Manga Exhibition – March 3 – May 20, 2016
Non-Art Cosplay Photography Exhibition – February 27 – March 31, 2016
The World of “Chihayafuru” – Suetsugu Yuki Original Artwork Exhibition
9/21/2019(Sat) 〜 12/22/2019(Sun)
First part (～November 5th), Second part (November 9th～)
Illustrator Kamogawa – Irodorareru Monotachi (Colorful Characters)
9/21/2019(Sat) 〜 11/24/2019(Sun)
Entrance fee: 800 yen for adults; 300 yen for students (junior and senior high school students); 100 yen for children/elementary school students. Children of Preschool age are eligible to enter the museum free of charge!
Note: This is just the cost of the entrance fee and there is a separate fee for special exhibitions sometimes, though usually this is included. However, the entrance fee grants you access to most areas of the museum. If there is a fee for the special exhibitions, then preschool children will have to pay as well.
To purchase a ticket, please use the self-service vending machines located at the entrance. There is an English option available. If you have any troubles, please do not hesitate to call a staff member over to help you out.
Also, if you want to leave the museum to wander around Kyoto some more or grab a quick bite to eat, the tickets allow for re-entry at any time during the same day it was purchased, up until 30 minutes before closing time that same day (except for the Special Exhibition with extra charge).
If you are either living in Japan or planning on returning to Japan and intend on going back to the manga museum, you can purchase a Yearly Passport “MM Free Pass”.
You can use this pass for unlimited entry into the museum (excluding the Special Exhibitions) for one year from the purchase date.
How do you get this awesome pass? It’s simple! You will have to first purchase a normal ticket from the museum’s entrance vending machine. Afterwards, you just fill out an application form at reception area and—voila!—you now have yourself a brand new Yearly Passport!
After the form has been completed you will be issued with your pass.
High and Junior High School Students 3,600yen
Elementary School Students 1,200yen
Location and Transportation
Address: Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0846
The museum is just north of the Karasuma Oike Intersection, across from the IMON building.
How to get there:
You can take any of the following: Kyoto city subway, Karasuma line or Tozai line
You would get off at Karasuma Oike station, taking exit No 2 and turning to your immediate right, before you turn left at the corner of the Karasuma Oike crossroad, and walk roughly 2 minutes.
Kyoto city bus number 15, 51, and 61.
Kyoto bus number 61, 62. and 63.
The stop you would get off at is the same for all of them: Karasuma Oike.
Contact Information and Hours of Operation
Phone number: +81-75-254-7414
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm; with admission closing at 5:30pm.
Closed: Wednesdays, but if Wednesday is a national holiday, then the museum will be closed on Thursday instead.
Article originally written for Izanau.com and has been edited from its original form.