Manga and Anime

What are manga and anime?

Modern day manga (漫画) can be defined as comics corresponding to a Japanese style which originated during the mid-1900s. The popularity of manga in Japan has since ballooned. Today, there is a huge domestic industry for manga, and increasingly so internationally. In Japan, people of both genders and all ages read manga. For example, it is quite common to see business men in suits reading thick comic books in commuter trains.

The range of manga genres is diverse, with content ranging from history to futuristic science fiction and from teenage romance to profound themes about life. The comics are broadly separated into four categories according to the target audience: boys, girls, youths and matured. They can be commonly found in bookstores, bookstands and convenience stores all over Japan.

A manga series may become popular enough that it is made into an anime (アニメ) - Japanese styled animation. Examples of world famous anime include "Dragonball", "Sailor Moon", "Pokemon" and "One Piece". Of course, original scripts may also be written for anime. One popular anime production company with its own distinct style is Studio Ghibli, which has produced award winning works such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away".

Some view this approximately 1000 year old work, displayed at Kozanji, Kyoto, to be Japan's "first manga"

Manga and anime related events and places of interest

The popularity of manga and anime in Japan has led to the establishment of many related attractions and places of interest. In Tokyo, some of the world's largest comic events are held annually.

Manga Cafes (Manga Kissa)

Manga cafes are places where customers can read from a library of manga for a specified time at a corresponding fee. Guests are free to borrow and return books as many times as they wish within the time limit. Many manga cafes also allocate individual compartments, offering guests some privacy for their reading pleasure.

Manga cafes can be found at almost all major city centers, usually located close to the train stations. Big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka have a large number of such establishments. Many of them offer a free flow of non-alcoholic drinks and double as internet cafes. Charges are typically about 300 yen per 30 minutes, but most offer packages such as three hours for 1100 yen.

Maid cafe at Akihabara

Maid Cafes

Maid cafes were originally created to fulfill the fantasies of fans of maid-themed manga and anime. The concept originated in Akihabara at the dawn of the millennium. Ever since, multiple maid cafes have been opened in the area, making Akihabara by far the best place to go for a maid cafe experience. The success of the cafes have inspired emulations at other locations in Japan and other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, China, Canada and the United States.

The primary characteristic of maid cafes are the waitresses who are dressed typically in costumes of French maids. Food and desserts served at the cafes are usually decorated in a cute way. The waitresses role-playing as maids may engage in friendly conversations or play card/video games with the customers to make them feel at home. Picture-taking is usually forbidden, but some cafes allow customers to have their picture taken with a "maid" for an additional fee.



A few manga and anime grand events are held in the course of a year. In particular, the AnimeJapan (formerly known as Tokyo Anime Fair), held annually at Odaiba's Big Sight convention center, is one of the largest animation related events in the world. Another noteworthy event is Comiket, a huge comic book fair which attracts hundreds of thousands of people. It is held biannually, also at Big Sight in Tokyo.


Manga and anime related items have a huge following in Japan and have given rise to the setting up of many hobby shops, especially at places like Denden Town of Osaka and, more prominently, in Tokyo's Akihabara district, the mecca of manga and anime. Below is a list of some locations where manga and anime related shopping can be done:

Akihabara (more details)
JR Akihabara Station
Hours: Store hours vary, typically 10:00 to 20:00
Akihabara is the center of gaming, manga and anime culture in Japan. With its electronics shops, maid cafes and anime stores, it is a paradise for any self-proclaimed otaku.

Nakano Broadway (more details)
JR Nakano Station
Hours: Store hours vary, typically 12:00 to 20:00
Nakano Broadway is a shopping mall with a large concentration of stores specializing in anime goods, including numerous specialized branches of the Mandarake store. Items on offer include a wide selection of figures, toys and costumes.

Pokemon Center
Currently found in seven major cities in Japan: Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka
Pokemon Centers are stores where you can buy all things Pokemon like trading cards, stationery, toys and games, including some exclusive items.

Theme parks and museums

Manga and anime have also inspired the establishment of several theme parks and museums. Some such popular attractions are:

Gundam Front Tokyo
5 minute walk from Daiba Station
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (from 9:00 on weekends)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 1000 yen
Gundam Front Tokyo is a small indoor theme park in the top floor of the Diver City Tokyo complex on Odaiba. It features various attractions and a shop centered around the anime series' robots. A "life sized" Gundam statue stands in front of the building.

One Piece Tower
Inside the base of Tokyo Tower
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (entry until 21:00)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 3200 yen
Located directly below Tokyo Tower, this indoor amusement park is themed after the popular One Piece manga series. It offers a variety of shows, games and other attractions that feature the series' characters.

Ghibli Museum (more details)
20 minute walk from Mitaka Station
Requires advance reservations
The Ghibli Museum is home to the favorite characters from Ghibli Studios films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. The museum features special animation exhibits and exclusive short films.

More anime related spots in Tokyo...

Fujiko F. Fujiyo Museum (more details)
10 minute bus ride from Noborito Station
Requires advance reservations
The Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, informally known as the Doraemon Museum, shows the work of manga artist Fujiko F. Fujio, creator of the influential and long running Doraemon series.

Ishinomori Manga Museum (more details)
10-15 minute walk from Ishinomaki Station
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 December to February)
Closed: Third Tuesday of every month (or every Tuesday from December to February)
Admission: 800 yen
This museum is dedicated to the manga artist Ishinomori Shotaro, a prolific artist who created several dozen influential manga series including Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider. The museum displays a collection of comics, statues and artworks from his numerous manga series.

Kyoto International Manga Museum (more details)
Two minute walk from the Karasuma-Oike Subway Station
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Closed: Wednesdays and New Year holidays
Admission: 800 yen (special exhibitions not included)
The museum has a massive collection of manga available for browsing. It also focuses on both the adoption and development of manga internationally.

Kitakyushu Manga Museum (more details)
Hours: 11:00 to 19:00 (until 20:00 during summer)
Closed: Tuesdays (or next day if Tuesday is a holiday), New Year holidays
Admission: 400 yen (special exhibitions not included)
The Kitakyushu Manga Museum introduces the history of manga with a focus on artists who have affiliations to Kitakyushu City, including Matsumoto Leiji, the creator of Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. The museum is located in Aru-Aru City, a shopping center that also features several manga and anime related shops.

Nagasaki Prefecture
Huis Ten Bosch (more details)
Hours: Typically from 10:00 to 20:00 (9:00 to 21:00 during peak season)
Closed: No closing days
Huis Ten Bosch is a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture which recreates a Dutch town, but also features several attractions related to the popular "One Piece" series, including the Thousand Sunny Boat Cruise.

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Page last updated: June 14, 2012