Japanese animations and comic books are known as anime and manga, respectively, and visitors to Japan have plenty of opportunities to see and experience the culture around these art forms at local attractions all year long.
Although manga has a complicated pre-history in early Japanese art, the style for these comics was developed in the late 19th century thanks to artists like Osamu Tezuka who made "Astro Boy" and Machiko Hasegawa who made "Sazae-san." Since then, manga has become popular across the country—and the world—and many other artists have emerged on the scene.
Meanwhile, anime is the Japanese word for animation and is used around the world to refer to hand-drawn or computer animation originating in Japan. The earliest commercial animes from Japan were created in 1917, and by the 30s the form was well-established in the country, especially after the 1937 success of the Walt Disney Company's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." However, modern anime styles really began to develop in the 1960s when Osamu Tezuka released the animated feature "Three Tales" and the anime television series "Otogi Manga Calendar."
If you're a fan of anime and manga and traveling to Japan for vacation, be sure to check out these museums, shopping centers, and art galleries geared toward Japanese cartoons of all forms. From the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo celebrating one of Japan's biggest names in animation, Studio Ghibli, to the Mizuki Shigeru Museum in the small village of Tottori, you're sure to love these unique attractions.
Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum
Considered to be the "god" of both modern anime and manga styles, Osamu Tezuka was one of the pioneers of adapting these art forms in both the 1940s and 1960s. The permanent exhibition at the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum includes a timeline of Tezuka's life and his works and celebrates the themes of "Love for Nature" and "Respect to Life" in Takarazuka-city.
- Location: 7-65 Mukogawa-cho, Takarazuka-city, Hyogo Prefecture
- Access: Hankyu Line Takarazuka or Takarazuka-minami Station / JR Takarazuka Station
Studio Ghibli is famous for producing great animations including "Howl's Moving Castle," "Princess Mononoke," and "Ponyo." The Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo presents an inside look at how these films were made by hand by Hayao Miyazaki and his team of animators, featuring permanent and temporary exhibits of animation frames, life-sized replicas of characters like Totoro and the Cat Bus, and a five-room animation studio replica. You will need to purchase a reserved ticket with an appointed date and time in advance to attend.
- Location: 1 Chrome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka City, Tokyo
- Access: 15-minute walk from JR Mitaka Station
Kyoto International Manga Museum
Acting as both a library and a museum, the Kyoto International Manga Museum was established by Kyoto City and Kyoto Seika University "to collect, preserve, and exhibit manga materials" as well as to conduct research and hold exhibits and events about manga culture from around the world. Featuring new events monthly and new exhibits several times a year, this museum is a one-stop for all things manga.
- Location: Karasuma-dori Oike-agaru, Kyoto 604-0846, Kyoto Prefecture
- Access: Kyoto Subway to Karasumaoike Station
The Akihabara Neighborhood of Tokyo
Akihabara is known as the center of Japanese otaku ("die-hard" fan) culture, and there are many shops selling Japanese video games, anime, and manga items in the area. Tokyo Anime Center is located on the 4th floor of the UDX building and there are plenty of arcades and manga shops all around the neighborhood.
- Location: Chiyoda ward of Tokyo
- Access: JR Akihabara Station
Mandarake Rare Book Store in Nakano
The Nakano neighborhood in Tokyo is also a popular area for anime and manga fans. Along Nakano's Broadway shopping street, there are many shops selling manga and anime related items. Mandarake stands out in that it specializes in reselling used manga with a network of stores around the country that share rare comics between them, making it a great destination to get some hard-to-find and out-of-print publications.
- Location: 5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano 164-0001, Tokyo
- Access: Five-minute walk from JR Nakano Station
Suginami Animation Museum
The Suginami Animation Museum introduces the history of Japanese animation, exhibits the anime-making process, and screens a selection of Japanese animations in its theater. Including permanent exhibits on the history, basics, and future of Japanese anime, along with special exhibitions and an anime library, this is a great destination for avid fans of the art form.
- Location: Suginami Kaikan Hall 3F, 3-29-5 Kamiogi Suginami-ku, Tokyo
- Access: Five minutes by Kanto Bus from JR or Tokyo Metro Ogikubo Station to Ogikubo Keisatsusho-mae stop
The Pokémon Center in Japan sells a variety of Pokemon character goods in many locations, but the Tokyo location called the MEGA TOKYO is the largest and offers the biggest events and attractions. If you're a fan of Pokémon, be sure to stop by while playing Pokémon Go or any of the portable console games to earn exclusive prizes.
- Location: Sunshine City alpa 2F, 3-1-2 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-6002
- Access: Short walk from Tokyo Metro Higashi-Ikebukuro Station or Higashi Ikebukuro Yonchome Station on the TA line
Kiddy Land is a store that has been serving Japan for over 60 years with the latest in toys, anime, manga, and all forms of Japanese children's entertainment. With several locations across the country, this popular local attraction is a great destination for children's gifts and presents for otakus of all ages.
- Location: 6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
- Access: Meiji-jingumae (Harajuku) Station on the Fukutoshin Line
Fuji Q Highland "Evangelion World"
If you love the "Neon Genesis Evangelion" series, Fuji Q Highland, an amusement park in Yamanashi, operates a pavilion called "Evangelion World." Much like Disney's parks in California and Florida, this park allows visitors to immerse themselves in the world of Evangelion with rides, characters, and gifts galore.
- Location: 5 Chome-6-1 Shin-Nishihara, Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi-ken 403-0017
- Access: Fujikyu Highland Station on the Fujikyu Kawaguchiko Line
Mizuki Shigeru Museum
Shigeru Mizuki is a Japanese manga artist who created "GeGeGe no Kitaro," which features Japanese yokai monsters. The museum is located in his hometown and houses his original drawings, yokai figures, and other features of his life and career as an artist.
- Location: 5 Hon-machi Sakaiminato City, Tottori
- Access: About a 10-minute walk JR Sakaiminato Station