A collection of 300,000 books! Kyoto International Manga Museum—a hidden gem of Kyoto

© Tezuka Productions

Kyoto has countless popular spots from temples and shrines to Japanese sweets shops, but did you know there is a place called Kyoto International Manga Museum in the center of the city?

Kyoto International Manga Museum opened in 2006 by renovating a former site of an elementary school. As its name suggest, it has a collection of 300,000 manga books. Ones for boys are on the 1st floor, ones for girls are on the 2nd floor, and ones for young adults are on the 3rd floor. Not only that, you can also enjoy manga translated into other languages as well as comic books from other countries.

A space that is symbolic of the museum as a whole is the “Wall of Manga” that features bookshelves lined up for a total of 200 meters along the walls. These shelves are filled with about 50,000 books, which are mainly manga books published in or after the 1970s.

The "Wall of Manga," which are arranged with approximately 50,000 books over a spans of 200 meters. (Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

There are some permanent exhibits including “Manga Artists’ Hands” that are plaster casts of the hands of manga artists who have visited the museum. Another must-see feature of the museum is the gigantic sculpture permanently installed in the atrium. It is a sculpture of “Hi no Tori” (meaning “phoenix”), which is one of the most famous characters of the works by Osamu Tezuka, a legendary figure in Japan’s manga industry. Moreover, at Manga Studio on the 1st floor, professional manga artists demonstrate the manga drawing process from rough sketches to completion, so you can see the real manga creation process in person. Furthermore, the walls of the museum café feature illustrations and autographs directly drawn by manga artists, so it would be fun to look for illustrations that match your preference while enjoying some coffee.

More than 100 plaster casts of the hand molds are on display at the "Manga Artists' Hands."

The "Manga Studio," where visitors can see the manga creation process.(Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

At the Museum Cafe, the walls are remarkable. It is decorated with handwritten illustrations and signatures of manga artists.(Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

Currently, this “those in the know, know” museum, where everyone from children to adults can enjoy, is holding a limited-time exhibition titled “Comics in Francophone Africa,” which explores the charm of the African manga culture that is not so familiar to Japanese people. Besides the things introduced in this article so far, the museum also has many other things to offer such as a section where you can have your portrait drawn in an anime style, a museum shop that carries related merchandise, and a variety of events including picture story shows. You should definitely visit there at least once if you love manga.

The "MM Kamishibai" can be enjoyed at the second-floor, Kamishibai room.(Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

At the 1st floor, there's the "Portrait Corner" to have your portrait drawn with an anime-style touch. (Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

Convenient ways to get Kyoto International Manga Museum are trains or buses from Kyoto Station. The surrounding area of the museum is dotted with historically rich sites such as Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace, so we recommend that you visit those places as well.

Exterior of the Kyoto International Manga Museum.(Photo by Yosuke Hishikawa)

■DATA Kyoto International Manga Museum Address: Karasuma-dori, Oike-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto Hours: 10:30-17:30 (admission until 17:00) Closed: Wednesdays(or the following day if Wednesday is a national holiday), year-end and New Year holidays, and maintenance periods Admission: Adults¥900  Junior high school and High school students ¥400  Elementary students ¥200 Official website: https://kyotomm.jp/en/ Comics in Francophone Africa Dates: October 26, 2023 - February 18, 2024 Venue: Kyoto International Manga Museum, 2F Gallery 1, 2, 3 Image courtesy of Kyoto International Manga Museum.

(Information as of November 2023)