Tokyo’s Anime and Manga Museums
Animation and Comics Fan Heaven Plus Free Family Fun in Japan
The Ghibli Museum Mitaka, devoted to the work of the studio that made Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, is world-famous, but Tokyo has other anime and manga museums. They’re less well known, less crowded, and offer lots of fun. Signs and tours are mostly in Japanese but the exhibits can be enjoyed by anyone. Best of all, most of these museums are completely free of charge.
You can get English language information about all these museums, plus anime and manga shops, from the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara, a few minutes away from Akihabara’s JR station. The Center has anime and manga displays and offers guided tours in English. It’s open from11 am-7 pm. Staff will answer email enquiries.
First Manga Exhibit in Kawasaki
Kawasaki City Museum opened its manga exhibition in 1988. The Museum, twelve minutes by Tokyu line from Shinjuku to Musashi Kosugi, still exhibits manga and anime and charges only for special exhibits. It’s open 9.30am-5pm, closed Mondays and New Year.
Fun for Free at Suginami Animation Museum
Suginami Ward is home to many anime companies. The Suginami Animation Museum lets you learn about them for free. There’s plenty to enjoy – a gallery, a library, a movie theater, displays on the history of anime, the process of animation and voice recording, plus a workshop room. Open from 10am-6pm, it’s just a few minutes’ walk or bus ride from Ogikubo Station, with a helpful English map available online.
Toei Animation Gallery – TV History, Gratis
The mighty movie company has been making animation since just after World War II. This free gallery, 15 minutes’ walk from Oizumi Gakuen station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, shows you the whole process from script to screen, with cels, scenarios, storyboards and character sketches. There are also displays of character goods and background art. Open 9.30 am-5 pm, closed Monday, New Year and summer holidays. You can visit their homepage for more information.
Old-Time Slapstick and Family Manga
The Akatsuka Kaikan, devoted to the work of Fujio Akatsuka, is saturated with the wacky, slapstick atmosphere of Akatsuka’s take on Japan’s Showa era. Akatsuka was a former roommate of Shotaro Ishinomori in the famous Tokiwa apartment building, home to manga stars. His anime and manga include Bakabon and Secret Akko-chan. The museum is a five-minute walk from JR Ome station, and is open from 10 am-5 pm daily except Minday. Adult admission is 500 yen, under-15s pay 200 yen.
The Hasegawa Machiko Museum celebrates the longest running animated cartoon strip in the world. Hasegawa’s Sazae-san (Mrs. Sazae) is an everyday story of family life in post-war Tokyo which still attracts some of the highest viewing figures in Japan. The manga appeared in 1946, was first animated in 1969, and is still running. The museum is a short walk from Sakurashinmachi Station on the Den-en Toshi Line, open 10 am-5.30 pm and closed Mondays and New Year. Adults pay 600 yen, students 500 yen, under-15s 400 yen.
Norakuro – Stray Pup, Pre-War Hero
The Tagawa Suiho Norakuro-kan in Tokyo’s Koto Ward is home to one of manga’s oldest icons, the anthropomorphic dog Norakuro. His name means ‘black stray’. He was created by manga artist Tagawa in 1931 and made his anime debut in 1934, with his most recent anime series airing in 1987. Admission to the museum is free and opening hours are 9 am – 9 pm. It’s closed on the first and third Monday of the month and for New Year.