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Kyoto Museum Shares Comic Culture with the World (January 22, 2007)

Inside the museum (Kyoto International Manga Museum)
Japan's first museum dedicated to the full range of manga culture has opened in Kyoto. The Kyoto International Manga Museum has an extensive mission that includes not only conducting and presenting research but also spawning new industries and cultivating human resources. The museum was a success right from the beginning, attracting over 10,000 visitors in its first two weeks.

A 200,000-Piece Treasure Trove
Japanese manga have attained the status of a full-fledged art form. Since the 1980s, manga and anime have spread across the globe, earning acclaim wherever they have landed. The rising cultural value of manga has created the need for a facility dedicated to the systematic collection, preservation, and dissemination of this art form.

To fill this need, the Kyoto International Manga Museum was founded jointly by the City of Kyoto and Kyoto Seika University, the only university in Japan that has a Faculty of Manga.

The "Manga Wall" (Kyoto International Manga Museum)

The museum currently houses some 200,000 manga-related items. The collection encompasses historically valuable pieces, such as the first Japanese manga magazines published in the early Meiji era (1868–1912), as well as currently popular works from Japan and other countries. By 2008, the museum expects to have over 300,000 pieces in its collection.

The Kyoto International Manga Museum functions as both a museum that carries out and publishes research and as a library where visitors have free access to more than 40,000 volumes at any given time. The corridors of the museum's three floors feature a "Manga Wall" with a total of 140 meters of shelf space.

A Venue for Manga Events
Through January 28, 2007, the museum is hosting the World Manga Exhibition. In addition to displaying works from over 20 countries (including Japanese manga in translation), the exhibition chronicles the history of the genre in Japan by highlighting phenomena such as akahon (pulp comics) and kashihon (manga-lending shops), which became popular after World War II.

When the subject of manga or anime comes up, Tokyo might be the first place that comes to mind. After all, Akihabara, that epicenter of otaku culture, is located in Tokyo, as are a slew of publishing houses and production companies dedicated to manga and anime. And of course many manga and anime artists make their home in Japan's modern capital.

The exterior of the museum. (Kyoto International Manga Museum)

However, Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto, renowned worldwide for its historic and cultural attractions, is also a manga center in its own right. The picture scrolls known as choju jinbutsu giga (literally "cartoons of bird and beast characters") originated here in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Furthermore, Kyoto Seika University is a pioneer of manga research, having been engaged in this field for over 30 years. It is therefore fitting that Kyoto has been chosen as the host city for the International Manga Summit in 2008.

"Manga have played a significant role in Japanese culture," says the museum's director, Yoro Takeshi, on the facility's website. "Elements of expression in Japanese manga, which have become increasingly popular around the world, are already found in picture scrolls produced in the Heian period (794–1192). I think it is extremely significant that the Manga Museum will be established in Kyoto, where traditional culture still thrives."

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Copyright (c) 2007 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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