My generation grew up surrounded by animated characters such as Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry and Mickey & Minnie Mouse to name just a few. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that we were first introduced to Japanese animation referred to a “Japanimation” with such series as Astro Boy, Speed Racer and Kimba the White Lion. From that point it took another 30 years (1990s) for an “anime” boom to hit the American market. The flow of Japanese animation and manga to the United States has increased American awareness of Japanese animation. Anime differs from American animation in the range of its audiences and themes. Unlike American cartoons, anime is often made for adults, and frequently deals with more serious themes.
It was during the late 1960s that Fujiko F. Fujio created a Japanese manga series (comic series) called Doraemon. The story revolves around a robotic blue cat named Doraemon, who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a pre-teen boy named Nobita Nobi. Although images of Doraemon can be found all over Japan, the anime series was not introduced to the American market until May 12, 2014, when TV Asahi Corporation announced an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to bring the 2005 anime series to the Disney television channel. Although Doraemon has been around for decades it still continues to grow in popularity today.
On September 2011, a museum dedicated to Fujiko F. Fujio (manga artist,Fujimoto Hiroshi) and all of his creations opened in Kawasaki City. For diehard fans of Doraemon, the museum is like a trip Disneyland!
The museum located at 2-8-1, Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture 214-0023, Japan, is easily accessible by train. The closest station is Noborito from where you can board a Doraemon-themed shuttle bus to the museum. The shuttle bus costs 200¥ one way and comes every 10 minutes.
In order to gain entry to the museum, visitors need to pre-purchase a “reservation,” which they can then exchange at the museum for an actual ticket. These reservations are only sold through Lawson, a chain of Japanese convenience stores, utilizing a self-service machine called Loppi . Unfortunately if you do not speak Japanese the Loppi may be a challenge to use as it has instructions and input in Japanese only. There are only four designated times for entry: 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Admission is 1,000¥.
Once you enter the museum, you are provided with a brief explanation of how the museum works, afterwards you are free to explore it at your leisure. The museum is spread over three floors, starting with an interactive history area. Here you will receive an audio guide (also available in English) to help you navigate the various displays.
On the ground floor, you’ll see the artwork and the story of Fujiko’s journey to becoming a full-fledged manga artist. There is a replica of Fujiko’s study, featuring the actual desk he worked on and a library above the study stretching high into the first floor. Apart from books, the library also features some items from the artist’s toys collection.
On the first floor, there are additional artworks and posters of feature-length movies. The artist’s personal life is covered through the use of various photographs. Here you will find a manga reading room and several activity and play rooms aimed at smaller children. There is also a theatre that screens a short Doraemon film at various times throughout the day.
Finally, you will access the rooftop garden, where you can take pictures with several characters. Photography is not allowed in most of the exhibit areas, but there are ample opportunities on the rooftop.
Before you leave the museum be sure to visit the cafe selling Doraemon themed dishes and the gift shop offering various themed goods from Doraemon and Fujiko’s other series.
Since its opening more than 1 million people have visited the museum, the legacy of an artist that highly influenced Japanese pop culture. It is an excellent opportunity for long time fans and those who have newly discovered Doraemon to immerse themselves in the artist’s world and in the series as well as his other works.
For more information, visit the official website at http://fujiko-museum.com/english/