An hour from the OGU campus, and just down the street from the famous 宝塚歌劇団 (Takarazuka Revue), manga and anime fans alike have been known to make pilgrimage to 宝塚市立手塚治虫記念館 (The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum). Tezuka’s nickname, “The God of Manga,” is probably explicit enough to educate those unfamiliar with him, and I believe I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has not been exposed to at least one of his innumerable stories or infamous characters.
Whether that be 火の鳥 (Phoenix),
リボンの騎士 (Princess Knight), 鉄腕アトム (Astro Boy)
orジャングル大帝 (Kimba The White Lion). For those of you still drawing a blank, I encourage you to inquire into the creative history of The Lion King… but perhaps we should leave that story for Disney to tell (or not tell).
“Conspiracy theories” aside, I must admit that I expected the museum to essentially serve as a shrine to he who has been dubbed as the inventor of the modern manga style, and (as usual, it seems) I was happily surprised by my expectations being proved overly simplistic. In fact, the museum takes its mission statement rather seriously, painting an intricate picture of Tezuka’s life – from womb to tomb. Though all the displays are in Japanese, the visuals (diaries, videos, interactive workshops) prove far more informative than most of the scholarship I have read over the last few years discussing Tezuka’s life and seminal works.
Of particular interest were the materials laid out from his childhood years, revealing that he had been drawing in a panelized, “cinematic” format from as early as elementary school. Not only is he an incredibly precise and talented artist, but the story about his love for bugs proved to be very, very true!
Originally, the story goes that Tezuka Osamu (手塚 治) adapted a slightly different pen name (手塚 治虫 – same pronunciation, but now with the kanji for “bug” added to the end) due to his childhood obsession with insects. However, his journals reveal meticulous categorizations and illustrations of a wide array of bugs, and this attention to detail would later manifest itself in all areas of his work.
For more on Tezuka and his work, I highly recommend some of the shorter pieces in Japanese Visual Culture (MacWilliams). Furthermore, if you’re ever in the Kansai area, I hope you’ll remember that the museum is absolutely worth the visit!