10 Museums You Should Visit If You Love Japanese Cartoons
You need to include these in your itinerary on your next trip to Japan!
Photo Ome Akatsuka Fujio Museum official website
Practically anyone who loves cartoons will attest to the irresistible charm of Japanese animation. It’s easy to get hooked on anime, with its complex and narratives, distinct style of drawing, and detailed illustrations. You don’t even have to understand the dialogue to appreciate anime; subtitles will do. There’s already so much humor, action, or drama going on to keep you entertained.
While it’s deeply rooted in Japanese pop culture, anime’s sphere of influence transcends geographical and cultural barriers. You can find an anime fan anywhere in the world: in America, Europe, other parts of Asia, and beyond. If you know an anime fan who’s heading to Japan or if you’re into Japanese cartoons yourself, then maximize your stay by visiting the following museums dedicated to celebrating the magic of manga and anime.
If you started watching Japanese cartoons in the 1980s, you’d be familiar with Astro Boy. The younger generation, on the other hand, would remember the movie adaptation released in 2009. Otherwise known as Mighty Atom in Japan, Astro Boy is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka, the Father of Manga.
There is a museum in Hyogo dedicated to preserving Tezuka’s legacy. It looks like a space fortress, inside and out. Tezuka’s personal belongings are showcased in see-through capsules as if they had been vacuumed in from outer space. His works are also on display.
Check out the schedule of anime screenings and don’t forget to raise your right arm as if you’re flying when you take a photo with the Astro Boy statue.
Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum is located at 7-65 Mukogawacho, Takarazuka, Hyogo and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Wednesdays and regular holidays. It’s an 8-minute walk from the Tarazuka Station. For more information, you can visit their website.
Toei Animation Museum
Are you a Dragon Ball Z, Sailormoon, or perhaps a Pretty Cure fan? If the answer is yes, then visiting the Toei Animation Museum in Tokyo should be on top of your itinerary. There are also animation tools, as well as photo walls where you can have selfies with your favorite characters. And did we mention that admission is free?
Toei Animation Museum is located at 2-10-5 Higashi Oizumi, Nerima Ward, Tokyo and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Wednesdays and regular holidays . It is a 15-minute walk from the Seibu Ikebukuro Line "Oizumi Gakuen" Station North Exit. For more information, you can visit their website.
Anpanman Children’s Museum
Remember Anpanman, that superhero with a bean jam-filled bun for a head who doesn’t need to eat because the filling keeps him alive? There’s a museum dedicated to him, too; quite a few actually, in different locations. And since it’s for kids, it looks a lot like an indoor theme park -- everything’s so colorful! You’re allowed to touch the displays, step inside installations, and meet characters from the show, Soreike! Anpanman.
Visit the official website for museum locations in Fukuoka, Sendai, Kobe, Nagoya, and Yokohama.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
Anybody who likes cartoons will love Doraemon, and no anime lover’s childhood would have been complete without it. Its lovable characters -- a young boy named Nobita and Doraemon, a robot cat -- have made viewers all over the world laugh and cry with their misadventures.
You can meet Doraemon, Nobita, and the rest of the gang at the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, which was created to honor the creator of the widely popular manga series.
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum is located at 2- 8-1 Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki-city, Kanagawa Prefecture and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Wednesdays and regular holidays. For more information, visit their website.
Ome Akatsuka Fujio Museum
If you found Doraemon cute and funny, then Osomatso-kun may have gotten you rolling in continuous laughter. Watching the antics and overflowing mischief of sextuplet brothers would be tons of fun for anyone. The cartoon series is based on manga created by Gag Manga King Akatsuka Fujio, the same man behind award-winning manga Tensai Bakabon.
If you’re a fan of Akatsuka Fujio’s work, then visiting the Ome Akatsuka Fujio Museum in Tokyo is a must. There you’ll find original manuscripts of his work, statues and standees of the characters he created, as well as a replica of Tokiwaso, the apartment he shared with -- gasp! -- other anime anime legends Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko. F. Fujio.
Ome Akatsuka Fujio Museum is located at 66 Sumie-cho, Ome, Tokyo and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Mondays and regular holidays. It is a 5-minute walk from the Ome Station. For more information, you can visit their website.
Tokyo Anime Center
If you happen to be in busy Shinjuku, you might as well spend some time at the Tokyo Anime Center. Exhibits are scheduled on rotation, and it’s a great place to learn about the latest anime shows. You can try voice acting at the studio and if you’re lucky, there might be a mini concert or a charity auction where you can score hard-to-find vintage anime merch.
Tokyo Anime Center is located on the 1st basement floor, DNP Ichigayatamachi Bldg. 1-14-1 Ichigaya-tamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. except Tuesdays and regular holidays. It is a 1-minute walk from the Ichigaya Station. For more information, you can visit their website.
Who doesn’t love My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Hayao Miyazaki’s other works? Studio Ghibli’s feature films transport us to fantasy worlds beyond our imagination and makes us want to stay. The Ghibli Museum lets you experience some of the worlds Miyazaki created, learn how some animated Ghibli films were made, and see your favorite characters in the flesh. You can also watch the Studio Ghibli film being screened and enjoy treats at the cafe.
Ghibli Museum is located at 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except on Tuesdays and regular holidays. For more information, you can check their website.
Suginami Animation Museum
If you want to learn about the history of Japanese animation and how anime is made -- even the technical parts of it -- then this is one spot you need on your itinerary. You can even try your hand as a voice actor and dub an anime. Special exhibits vary so better check the schedule before you visit. Admission is free.
Suginami Animation Museum is located at 3F, 3-29-5 Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except on Mondays and regular holidays. For more information, you can check their website.
Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum
Many anime start as manga or comic strips in newspapers, and Hasegawa Machiko's Sazae-san is one of them. The TV adaptation of the award-winning manga has a Guinness Book World Record as the longest-running animated TV series in Japan.
Hasegawa is one of Japan’s first female manga artists, and the success of Sazae-san proves how the everyday life of a Japanese woman can bring joy and laughter to readers and viewers in the midst of more complicated plots offered by action-packed anime.
Aside from displays that will bring you back to Sazae-san’s simple neighborhood in the Showa era, the museum also showcases Hasegawa’s art collection.
Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum is located at 1-30-6 Sakurashimmachi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Mondays and regular holidays. It is a 7-minute walk from Sakurashincho Station (Tokyu Denentoshi Line). For more information, you can check their website.
Kyoto International Manga Museum
This is a place for serious manga fans who want to take it easy and relax. The museum in Kyoto houses hundreds of thousands of manga, separated by genre, on different floors. You can probably spend an entire day going through them.
Make sure to check the museum schedule before you drop by. Try to catch a kamishibai show, a live drawing session by a renowned artist, or even a workshop when you visit.
Kyoto International Manga Museum is located at 452 Kinbuki-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Wednesdays and regular holidays. It is a 2-minute walk from the Karasuma Oike Station. For more information, you can check their website.