Saitama Municipal Cartoon Art Museum

By Cool Tour Guides - Last updated: 月曜日, 1月 10, 2011 - Save & Share - One Comment



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Saitama Municipal Cartoon Art Museum


150 Bonsai-cho, Kita-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama, 331-0805, Japan




Business hours:



Mondays (on national holidays closed on the day following), New Year’s holidays(Dec.28-Jan.4)




The Saitama Municipal Cartoon Art Museum was built on the site where Japan’s first professional mange artist, Rakuten Kitazawa lived in his later years. The museum is Japan’s first museum dedicated to cartoons. Over the years the Saitama Municipal Cartoon Art Museum has held various programs, such as exhibitions of Rakuten’s works and personal belongings and the Saitama City Citizens’ Manga Exhibition.

 rakuten exhivition room

1st Floor: Permanent exhibition room for Rakuten


Displays and planned exhibitions with belongings and works left by Rakuten Kitazawa are held several times a year in order to spread cartoon culture. The exhibition hall is split over two floors with the first floor displaying achievements, works and other item associated with Rakuten. The second floor displays a wide range of cartoons in special exhibitions of modern and contemporary cartoon works. There is also a well-kept Japanese garden which can be enjoyed in all four seasons.


Rakuten’s art studio (left) and well-kept Japanese garden(right) 


kitazawa-rakuten1Rakuten Kitazawa /Japan’s first professional mange artist

Rakuten Kitazawa, was a Japanese cartoonist and a Japanese-style painter.

He was born in Meiji 9 (1876) in the Kita Adachi district of Ohmiya in Saitama Prefecture, and established his popularity by drawing manga, primarily satirical, from the Meiji through the Showa eras. (*In1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone.)

He is considered by many historians to be the founding father of modern Japanese cartoon because his work was an inspiration to many younger cartoonists and animators.

He was the first professional cartoonist in Japan, and the first to use the term “manga” in its modern sense.

He studied western-style painting under Ohno Yukihiko and Japanese-style painting under Inoue Shunzui.

In his 19 years old, he joined the English-language magazine Box of Curios in 1895, and started drawing cartoons under an Australian artist Frank Arthur Nankivell, who later immigrated to America and became a popular cartoonist for Puck magazine.


 fukuzawa yukichi&jijimanga

The founder Mr. Fukuzawa & works of Rakuten in ‘Jijishinpo’


When he became 23 years old in 1899, he moved to another newspaper called ‘Jiji-shinpo’ a daily newspaper founded by Yukichi Fukuzawa as a member of artists, Mr. Fukuzawa asked him to draw cartoons to make articles in his paper easier to understand. From January 1902, he contributed to Jiji Manga, a comic’s page that appeared in the Sunday edition. His comics for this page were inspired by American comic strips such as Katzenjammer Kids, Yellow Kid, and the work of Frederick Opper. His works of so-called ‘ponchi-e’ or ‘odoke-e’ in every Sunday issue became very popular.


 tokyo puck&rakuten puck
Full-color satirical magazines published by Rakuten ‘Tokyo Puck’ & ‘Rakuten Puck’ 


In 1905, Rakuten started a full-color satirical magazine called Tokyo Puck, named after the American magazine. It was translated into English and Chinese and sold in not only Japan but also in the Korean peninsula, Mainland China, and Taiwan. He worked for this magazine until 1915 (with the exception of a short period around 1912, during which he published a magazine of his own called Rakuten Puck), and then returned to Jiji Shimpo, where he remained until his retirement in 1932.

In 1929, Rakuten held a private exhibition in Paris on the recommendation of the French ambassador, and was awarded the Legion d’honneur. During World War II, he was the chairman of the Nihon Manga Hoko Kai, a cartoonists’ society organized by the government to support the war effort.

Both before and after his retirement, Rakuten trained many young cartoonists and animators, including Hekoten Shimokawa, creator of Japan’s first cartoon animation. Along with Ippei Okamoto, he was one of the favorite cartoonists of the young Osamu Tezuka.


<Reference materials>

Japan Anime Tourism Guide published by Japan Tourism Agency

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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One Response to “Saitama Municipal Cartoon Art Museum”

Comment from Helen McCarthy
Time 31/10/2012 at 03:26

Thank you for making such a beautiful museum. I would like to talk to you about using pictures of Kitazawa-sensei’s work in an English book. Please email me so we can discuss this.

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