Hi there, and welcome back to the ongoing chronicles of my 2007 Trip to Japan! You can check out previous entries by clicking “Japan” under the categories tab to the right.
This time out we’re heading to The Osamu Tezuka Museum in Takarazuka, Japan, just outside of Osaka. Although the man needs no introduction, I’m gonna do one anyway: Osamu Tezuka is the God of Manga, one of the originators of the medium and undeniably a pioneer. His numerous creations include Tetsuwan Atom, known to the west as Astro Boy, Kimba The White Lion, Phoenix, Black Jack, Princess Knight, and many more. In fact, the full range of his creativity is on display in the museum, and the whole thing is a testament to his amazing work and career. The Tezuka Museum was definitely one of the highlights of my 2007 trip, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the country as an essential stop.
CONTINUE READING AFTER THE CUT:
As I mentioned the Tezuka Museum is in Takarazuka, the town where Osamu Tezuka’s grew up. Takaruzuka is internationally famous as the home of the Takarazuka Revue, an all-woman theater troupe! Founded in 1913, when the troupe is performing Takarazuka is a bustling tourist spot, but when it isn’t, it’s about as sparsely-visited as these photos will show.
So, just a little bit more background about all of this. The national railway is called the JR, but by no means is it the only railway. In addition there are numerous privately-run above-ground rail lines (‘trains’) and below-ground lines (‘subways’). The private railway stations are usually found right-across the street from the JR stations, which is convenient for those traveling from abroad, but can be a little confusing when there are 2 or 3 stations in close-proximity with roughly the same name. The Takarazuka JR station is across the street from the Takarazuka Hankyu rail station, and that station is attached to Hankyu Mall, which you must walk through to get to the road with the Takarazuka Grand Theatre (where the Revue performs) as well as the Manga Museum. You can see how this can be confusing, right? Luckily thanks to this awesome website, http://digilander.libero.it/joe.chip/tezuka_e.htm, we navigated all of this with ease, but you can see how it can be difficult to get around if you’re not used to… well, all of it. If you’re traveling abroad, do your research!
So yes, above is the outside of the mall that you need to walk through (and go up and down 4 or 5 floors) to get to Hana No Michi, or Flower Avenue.
Flower Avenue is a gorgeously decorated part of town, flanked by European-themed building facades selling all manner of souvenir, as well as a large steel bridge that was almost entirely ornamental.
Andrew and I did both went over and under the bridge, and it was similarly lovely on both elevations. You can see the theatre complex in the background on the right, there.
I’m so totally in love with him.
Here’s me with an ornamental wrought-iron fusebox grate.
Gorgeous little parkettes and lush greenery were everywhere, belying the fact that it was like 90 degrees that day. I can’t imagine their water bill, because I spent $5 on drinks while in Takarazuka and I was only outside for like an hour.
Outside the theatre is a statue featuring two of the most famous characters performed at the theatre, Oscar & Andre, from the stage adaptation of the manga The Rose of Versailles, a shoujo manga classic by Riyoko Ikeda that is unavailable in North America. It’s totally available in French though, so someone, somewhere must have been able to make money with it. Hint. Hint.
If you’re interested in the Takarazuka Revue, I recommend checking out the relevant chapter of Aimee Major Steinberger’s recent graphic novel Japan Ai: A Tall Girl’s Adventures In Japan, as the author is humourously obsessed with the troupe and it makes for an enjoyable read. Find out more here: http://www.gocomi.com/index.php?module=japanai&skin=japanai
40 Helens Agree: You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out
Just kidding. We have no idea what these women were doing but it kind of creeped us out a little.
Finally! Here we are at The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum. Yay!
As we saw at the top of this post, there is a completely-amazing Phoenix statue outside the museum.
The walk to the front door lets you know that this as much a shrine to the master as it is a chronicle of his work. Stone pillars featuring bronze reliefs of his most famous characters mark the path, as do concrete handprints and footprints of those same characters…
(In Order: Kimba, ___, Black Jack, Astro Boy)
Just inside the front door are two different mosaics that will totally knock your socks off. I felt kind of bad about walking on the Phoenix or on Tezuka’s cartoon face…
Welcome to the Tezuka Museum! Yay! Astro Boy Says ‘Sup?
Best thing about the Tezuka museum? Everyone wants you to take as many photos as you can. Which means? Lots of pictures for you, a modicum of commentary from me.
The permanent Tezuka exhibit featured like 20 or 30 of these displays that chronicles Tezuka’s life story and his artistic development. Unfortunately, all of the writing was in Japanese, but that didn’t stop me from marveling at the hardcover first-editions of his work all over the exhibit. So cool.
Also? Tons of original art.
Tezuka’s famous beret and glasses, preserved for the ages alongside a wonderful piece of his art.
It was amazing seeing his original art, paste-ups, corrections, changes and all.
A collection of effect designs by Tezuka! Pretty cool… and useful, one would assume…
This display case was cool, as it recognized the accomplishments of Tezuka’s contemporaries. I can recognize Doraemon by Fujiko F. Fujio (upper left) and Cyborg 009 by Shotaro Ishinomori (who went on to create Kamen Rider) but I can’t figure out the rest of them. Rar.
Wait! Apparently there are translations of all of the exhibits at the Tezuka website! Holy Shit! Another thing that would have been useful… Whilst in Japan. According to the website:
“In 1953, Tezuka Osamu moved to the Tokiwaso apartment in Shiinamachi, Tokyo. Following Tezuka Osamu, Terada Hiroo moved into the apartment. Later, after Tezuka Osamu left, Abiko Motoo and Fujimoto Hiroshi (Fujiko Fujio) also moved into the same place, followed by Suzuki Shinichi, Ishinomori Shotaro, Akatsuka Fujio, Moriyasu Naoya, Mizuno Hideko, and Yokota Tokuo, etc. Even Nagata Takemaru, Tsunoda Jiro, and Hase Kunio, who all lived in Tokyo, gathered there, suddenly making Tokiwaso a hotspot among young ambitious Manga artists.” Well, there you go.
Original animation designs for the Astro Boy animation.
Kimba! (or Jungle Emperor Leo, as he’s known in Japan)
Look! It’s the first magazine to serialize Phoenix, I think!
Original art from Ode To Kirohito.
Original art from Buddha!
Elevator to the second floor.
At the top of the stairs to the second floor, the following site greets you: roughly 150,000 sheets of paper, to symbolize the roughly 150,000 pages of manga that Tezuka completed in his lifetime.
Beyond the monument to a lifetime’s work is Tezuka’s desk, and you’re invited to sit at it. I decided that I wasn’t quite up to sitting in the chair of Osamu Tezuka. Because, you know. I’m not Osamu Tezuka. Oh, surrounding the desk are replicas of the book covers of his more than 400 manga tankoubons.
If you do decide to take a spin, you get to see Tezuka looking down over your shoulder via the mirror on his desk (looks like a picture frame), which is kind of creepy but kind of fitting, too.
In this definitive scene from Buddha, you can see some of the artistic changes that the sequence went through before Tezuka deemed it complete. Buddha’s head was originally larger, and higher off of his body, and a new piece of art has been pasted on top here. Tezuka’s original art was amazing and inspiring… it looked like actual human hands had touched it…
I loved this original in particular. It was suspended between two pieces of plexiglass that let us see not only the front and back, but also allowed the light to stream through the page showing the many, many levels of changes that the piece had undergone. This is the front…
…and this is the back. Fully half of the page had been redrawn, including a change from a cartoony shorthand version of Black Jack into a more realistically drawn one. There were lots of examples of this type of change, and it was amazing to be able to delve into Tezuka’s creative process like this.
Just in case you can read Japanese here’s the description for this piece.
Also! Kind of cool is the fact that there was a wall of pieces detailing the changes a story had gone through between it’s first printing and it’s ‘final’ incarnation:
Here we see a photostat of the pages as they were originally printed.
And in the newest edition, we can the changes, from obvious (the hair and beards are longer!) to subtle (look at the quality of the stipling and ink texture on the rocks!). Other pages had even greater changes… Tezuka kept fiddling with his work all throughout his career, hoping to improve it (or if he was anything like the artists I know, trying to be less embarrassed about his old work…).
Original Phoenix painting.
The museum featured a library with different editions of Tezuka’s manga from around the world for you to read. It also featured a giant machine that let you view recordings of many (most?!) of the Tezuka production cartoons. Oh, and it had a fun little cafe and I got a lemonade.
Look, it’s the only place in the world that you can get a copy of Phoenix Volume 1 in English!
Not that I’m bitter.
They also had a ton of boks ON Tezuka as well.
Ever wondered what the history of Tezuka manga looks like? Hundred of volumes in multiple editions are on display, an impressive combination of nostalgia and pride.
Tezuka also designed a 3d map of Takarazuka which was narrated by Mr. Mustachio, I believe, but it was in Japanese.
From the 3rd floor we took the elevator to the basement, where the strangest event of the day occurred.
At the front of a long row of workstations for children (that I admit Andrew and I spent at least a half-hour playing with… We animated Astro Boy! Heeeeeeeee!) sits… Tezuka, his back to you, as he works away on various anime from beyond the grave.
We were a little creeped out by this, but the Japanese attendent was like “Do you want to see the show?” which… I guess? No? But then she pressed the giant button anyway and the Tezuka began to shake and move.
And turned to look right at us.
The steps back to the first-floor exit conveniently featured the history of manga, in Japanese. Something that you can’t get in book-format in North America, at least not as in depth or convincing as what the Tezuka Museum would deign to put on their walls…
And so with a ridiculous pose with Astroy Boy firmly completed, we bid goodbye to The Tezuka Museum, and all of its splendours. I loved, loved, this Museum, and would go back again anytime, especially now that I know I can bring translations of all of the exhibits along. If you’re planning a trip to Japan and consider yourself a manga fan? DON’T MISS THIS.
Bonus: Convenience Store Photos!
The Tezuka Museum is at the corner of Flower Avenue and Osama Tezuka Way (rough translation), and that corner also houses a convenience store.
Finally! Today is the day that NANA was released!!! All of the hype and advertising (and there really was a lot; you’d never see something like that for a comic book here) saw Nana Volume 18 rocket onto the newsstand, surrounded by another manga title, sure, but also young women’s fashion magazines. It’s pretty clear who the audience is for this one…!
Andrew was starving and largely afraid of Japanese food, and so he picked up… pre-packaged Peanutbutter Sandwiched with the crusts cut off! Peanut butter, Butter, and Bread, all of it surprisingly sweet (everything in Japan is made with refined white sugar!!!). Verdict? He’d ate it again 2 or 3 times during our trip!
This is the butchest coffee you can get. For entertaining times, make it mustachioed homosexual icon on a rainbow can times.
Then, when we got back to the hotel in Osaka…
It’s the fried-food vending machine! YES! YES! Beef Noodles! Fried Rice! French Fries! How could I not try fried food from a vending machine!?
Only 111 seconds left!
And? The fried rice and fried noodles from the vending machine were considerably better than some fresh fried rice that I’ve had in Canada. I mean, it’s not the real thing, but for $4? Awesome.
Thanks for reading this entry! I have a fun little entry about the Tezuka Museum that will go up about 18 hours from now, and the next major entry will be about the International Manga Museum in Kyoto. Thanks for continuing to read and link these entries! At least 7 or 8 more to come.