Are you a fan of Manga, and are you possibly a fan of one of the main dudes when it comes to creating Manga and Anime, Mr Osamu Tezuka? Because a LOT of people travel to Japan because of a love of Manga, Japanese comics, cartoons and anime. Perhaps like me you grew up watching afternoon cartoons when you got home without ever realising until you were much older that you were in fact watching a show made in Japan, which had been dubbed for English audiences. To name a couple – Star Blazers and various forms of Voltron. But the one I really used to get into was Astroboy, created by Osamu Tezuka. It’s not the only creation of his, in fact there are many such as Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack, which is a more adult and darker tale.
But his most famous creation is the Mighty Atomu, or as we more commonly know him in English speaking countries, Astroboy! I used to watch it on the ABC back in the early 1980s and loved it. Sure it’s a little questionable at times, especially when Astroboy fires guns out of his behind, but it’s such an innocent and heart warming series. There are three versions at least of Astroboy – the 1960s black and white version the colour 1980s version which I’m familiar with and then there is a more modern one made in 2003.
Osamu Tezuka is so well loved in Japan he is referred to as the ‘Godfather of Manga’ and even the Japanese Walt Disney. So I’m a little surprised there isn’t a theme park dedicated to him. But there is a museum, which I admit is mostly in Japanese but if you’re a fan of his work it’s worth visiting. It’s in the town of Takarazuka, which isn’t too far from Kyoto. Around a 30 minute or less train ride I think so it can worked into an afternoon or morning if you have limited time. You could see it in the morning and then return to Kyoto to see the Manga Museum there, if Manga interests you.
The museum itself will keep you occupied for an hour, maybe more depending on your level of interest in the craft and your level of understanding of the Japanese language. They do regularly screen throughout the day some of the rarer works that he did, which are very interesting, and of course you’ll see the art he’s famous for as well.
A translation book is available at the front desk when you arrive, and so that’s obviously a pretty good idea. You can learn a lot about his life and all the different characters and series that he created, and believe me, he was pretty prolific to say the least! If you have kids then there is a section for drawing and creating characters or just being creative, and you know, you may want to give it a go to!
The place is very futuristic too which is pretty cool, with lots of displays being in these glass capsules. And of course there is a fair library of his works if you want to sit and read – some are in English. You’ll learn a bit about all the interesting, and some unexpected, Manga that he did including some staff I described in my diary as ‘sexually explicit’, and even a Manga series about Adolf Hitler.
Although his body of work is large and impressive, Tezuka died in 1989 at around 60 years of age, which for Japan is pretty young to die. Who knows what another 20 years of life may have brought the world via this man? From all reports about his life he was a happy man who loved life.
The museum is located an easy walking distance from the Takarazuka station, and along with Kyoto is an easy day or half-day trip from Osaka and Nara as well. If Manga interests you, or if you’ve ever gotten into any of his work, then I thoroughly suggest a visit to this museum for it will be well worth your time! Thanks for visiting, and May the Journey Never End!