Travelogue: Kyoto International Manga Museum

Japan Press Trip Part 3

Because most members of the press trip have been to Japan many times already, the organizers give them free time to explore Kyoto on their own. On their first free day, Michael Taylor decides to check out the Manga Museum.

The organizers of the press trip understand that travel writers usually have their own agenda.

Perhaps their editor has a specific story angle he wants them to pursue. Perhaps they have a story angle of their own they want to pursue.

For this reason, the organizers allow us 2 full days to go whenever we want and do whatever we want – one full day in Kyoto and one full day in Sapporo. And we DO appreciate it!!!

That means I am free as a bird until dinner, and – since it is neither sunny not snowing – it’s not a good day for taking photos of temples or shrines, of which Kyoto has many. They are, really, the main reason why most people come here.

Clearly an indoor activity is called for, so I decide to head to the Kyoto International Manga Museum.

Not only should this prove interesting, it will also give me the chance to buy postcards, which I can send to some of my readers, who are big fans of manga, a.k.a. Japanese comics.

Tatsuike Primary School

The Kyoto International Manga Museum is housed in the former Tatsuike Primary School, which threw open its doors on 1 November 1869.

Because of declining enrollment in recent years, the school was merged with 4 other schools in 1995. The Kyoto International Manga Museum occupied the school’s former campus, opening to the public in November 2006.

The Kyoto International Manga Museum has a collection of roughly 50,000 publications dating from the 1970s to the present day. They are arranged in ‘open access’ fashion along a 200 metre long wall called the Wall of Manga.

The Kyoto International Manga Museum strikes me as more of a library than a museum. While there are lots of publications, there aren’t many objects on display. The venue is scattered with chairs, with lots of manga fans avidly reading manga.

Are they holders of annual passes? Apparently annual passes are for sale.

While most of the publications are in Japanese, there are also manga published in other languages as well as some from the pre-World War II era and a Children’s Library.

Gift Shop and Café

The Kyoto International Manga Museum has an excellent gift shop and a cafe. If I had it to do over again, I would have spent the money I spent on admission to the museum buying more souvenirs in the gift shop.

As it stands, I purchased 2 T-shirts for myself and some postcards and stationery for friends.

I’m kind of disappointed that the exterior of the old school has been clad in tile, modern windows have been installed, and a modern addition has been added. I think that the architectural integrity of heritage buildings should be preserved.

If it is necessary to add space, no problem. But I think it should be in keeping with the original architectural style. Wouldn’t it be cool if the museum’s café were actually the old school’s cafeteria?

Not everyone agrees with me on this point. There are, in fact, 2 schools of thought (sorry for the pun).

Some people (like me) think that additions to heritage buildings should be as unobtrusive as possible. They should sort of ‘blend in’, looking as though they were always there.

But other people believe that additions to heritage buildings SHOULD  be in keeping with current architectural trends. That way you know which is original and which is not.

To each his own …

Where

Kyoto International Manga Museum, Karasuma-Oike, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Telephone: +81-75-254-7414. 

Michael Taylor was flown to Japan on Jetstar Japan and hosted by the ibis Styles Kyoto Station during his stay in Kyoto.

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