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.

The range of manga genres is diverse, with content ranging from history to 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 and convenience stores all over Japan.

A manga series may become popular enough that it is made into an anime (アニメ), Japanese-style 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".

Manga and anime-related events and places of interest

The popularity of manga and anime has led to the establishment of many related attractions and places of interest, and Tokyo hosts some of the world's largest comic events.

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 in most city centers, usually located close to the train stations. Big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka have large numbers of them. Many 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 around 1000 yen.

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 South Korea, China, Canada and the United States.

The primary characteristic of maid cafes are the waitresses who are dressed typically in costumes as French maids. Food and desserts served at the cafes are usually decorated in a cute way. The waitresses 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, AnimeJapan, 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 - most 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
  • Nakano Broadway
  • Nationwide
    Pokemon Center
  • DiverCity Tokyo Plaza

Theme parks and museums

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

  • Ghibli Museum
    For hours and fees, see museum page
  • Ghibli Park
    For hours and fees, see park page
  • Awaji Island
    Nijigen no Mori
    Admission to the park is free, and business hours and fees depend on each attraction. Fees are typically 2000-6000 yen per attraction.
  • Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
    For hours and fees, see museum page
  • Ishinomori Manga Museum
    For hours and fees, see museum page
  • Takarazuka (near Osaka)
    Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum
    Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
    Closed: Mondays (except holidays), December 29-31
    Admission: 700 yen
  • Kyoto International Manga Museum
    For hours and fees, see museum page
  • Kitakyushu Manga Museum
    For hours and fees, see museum page

More manga-related spots in Tokyo...