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Friday, 29th January 2016
In Events In Japan,

Explore the history of manga in Kyoto

Comic culture is huge in Japan and those interested in how it has evolved can find out more at the Great Manga History Traces from Edo exhibition being held in Kyoto.

The city is the permanent home of the Kyoto International Manga Museum, but this specific display will only be on show until February 7th.

Looking at the origins of this unique art form means exploring the comical woodblock prints known as giga that were around in the Edo Period.

This historical timeframe stretched from 1603 to 1867 and was when the forerunners to the comic books of the early Showa era from 1926 to 1989 were in existence.

Without either of these mediums, the manga that is so popular in Japan today would never have come about.

Many manga fans will make their way to the exhibition with the express purpose of seeing the private collection of Isao Shimizu.

He is a historian who specialises in manga and caricatures, but also the curator of the Nihon Manga Shiryokan (The Archives of Japanese Cartoon History).

As well as various artefacts showing the evolution of manga, each exhibit is complete with a description and insight into their social context.

The exhibition shows how the panels seen in comic strips, known as koma, came into existence in the Edo Period as a way to spread Buddhism throughout the population.

Speech balloons also appeared at this time, but they were meant to convey the inner feelings of characters and were originally seen emanating from their chests.

The first of Japan’s professional cartoonists was Kitazawa Rakuten, who was prolific during the Meiji era, and there are a number of his works on display.

Summarising the exhibition, a spokesperson for the museum told The Japan News: “It’s a great way to enjoy manga and learn about its history at the same time.”

While at the museum, visitors are encouraged to take a break and read any of the 50,000 manga comics it has in its collection.

Related news stories:
Kyoto trials foreigner friendly taxis (3rd March 2016)
Kyoto acclaimed as best travel destination (8th July 2014)
New drive to save Kyoto's historic narrow homes (8th December 2014)
Kyoto celebrates dual festivals (5th November 2014)