Manga Pilgrimage to Tokiwaso, Legendary Home of Astro Boy and Doraemon Creators
Getting to the Tokiwaso Manga Museum
Built in 1952, this two-story apartment building stood in an area called Shiinamachi (currently called Minami-Nagasaki), conveniently close to the busy district of Ikebukuro. During the years it became a sort of atelier where young manga artists got together and helped each other. Nowadays the area around Tokiwaso attracts many manga enthusiasts that come visit the landmarks connected with their heroes. Although the original building was demolished in 1982, a faithful recreation was built as a museum in the same area to honor the legendary house. This is where my journey started!
The Toshima City Tokiwaso Manga Museum is located inside Minami-nagasaki Hanasaki Park, also colled Tokiwaso Park.
Right at the entrance of the partk is a monument to the "Heroes of Tokiwaso". It features drawings and autographs of the artists that lived here.
And here's the museum! Using all the available pictures, documents and accounts from the artists that used to live there they recreated a faithful replica of the 1960s apartment building.
I took the stairs up to the second floor, where all the artists used to live. It really felt like I was in the Tokiwaso of 60 years ago! Here is a reproduction of the toilet, kitchen, and rooms where the artists used to live.
Some of the rooms contain documents and exhibits about the history of Tokiwaso, how life was at the time and how the museum was established. Other rooms have been set up the way they used to be when the manga artists lived in them. The amount of detail is impressive! There are even panels on the windows recreating the same scenery that you would have seen at the time. The interior is faithful to the original down to the pattern on the wooden ceiling, and the old tv playing 50s and 60s commercials.
The museum also offers a manga drawing workshop and dress-up photoshoots (at the time of writing these are unavailable as a safety measure against coronavirus). The first floor (where regular tenants used to live) hosts a temporary exhibition room and the manga lounge, where you can find books about Tokiwaso's manga artist residents. Here I also saw a piece of the original house's ceiling board featuring a drawing by Tezuka Osamu (currently under restoration as of November 2020).
InformationToshima City Tokiwaso Manga Museum | 豊島区立トキワ荘マンガミュージアム
Address: 3-9-22 Minami-Nagasaki, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (Last admission 5:30 p.m.)
Holidays: Mondays (or the following day if a national holiday falls on Monday), New Year's holiday, exhibit change period
Entrance fee: Free during regular exhibition periods. Paid during special exhibition periods (from April 2021).
Access: 5 min. walk from Ochiai-Minami-Nagasaki Station on the Toei Oedo Line / 10 min. walk from Higashi-Nagasaki Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line / 15 min. walk from Shiinamachi Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
*As a measure against coronavirus, at the time of writing the museum is currently available for reserved visits only. You can make a reservation here (Japanese only): https://tokiwasomm.jp/reservation/
Exploring Tokiwaso Street
After leaving the museum it's time to discover the other landmarks scattered along Tokiwaso Street. Despite being very close to the crowded and busy district of Ikebukuro, this area is made of quiet residential roads lined with timeless little shops and cafes.
First I headed to the site where the actual building was located. It now houses a different facility but a memorial statue marks the place where it once was.
InformationMatsuba | 松葉
Address: 3-4-11 Minami-Nagasaki, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Holidays: Mondays (open if it falls on a National Holiday)
Access: 8 min. walk from Ochiai-Minami-Nagasaki Station on the Toei Oedo Line / 11 min. walk from Shiinamachi Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
After lunch I paid a visit to the nearby Kosodate Jizo-son statue. A symbol of the neighborhood, it appeared in Tezuka Osamu's manga Tokiwaso Monogatari.
Strolling Around Shiinamachi and Higashi-Nagasaki Station
Map in hand, I continued my pleasant stroll in search of other monuments scattered throughout the neighborhood.
The area around Higashi-Nagasaki Station is very nice with some colorful shopping streets.
If you get here from Shiinamachi Station you'll be greeted by a gallery and a mural. Right outside the station is Nagasaki Shrine and Kongo-in Temple, where you can find the Manga Jizo. They're right by the cute terrace café Nayuta.
Diving Into the Past With a Stamp Rally
Signs like this are also scattered throughout the neighborhood, pointing to the location of former spots of interest.
The stamp rally took me on a journey to places from the past: the music café Eden where the artists used to hang out; the communal bath that they frequented (Tokiwaso didn't have a bath, only toilets); the bakery where the artists used to buy cheap croquettes for their meals. These places might not be there anymore but they continue to live through the memory of people. It was fun and I also got to say hi and chat to friendly shop owners along the way.
I loved how the museum preserved the look and atmosphere of Tokiwaso. It felt more like a time capsule than a museum, left by all the people that were there in memory of those times. I highly recommend a visit to all manga fans. After visiting the museum make sure you take the time to explore the surroundings and fully immerse yourself in the history of Tokiwaso!
*The above article is based on information from September 2020.
*Prices, business hours and other information in this article are subject to change.
About the Author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).
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THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM 12 02,2020 Author：DiGJAPAN! Editorial Team