Akita prefecture is very famous for its landscapes, seascapes, hot springs, and cultural and historical feats such as the Kamakura Festival and the well-maintained vintage backdrops along samurai districts. However, there is one hidden paradise in Akita that was established about twenty years ago for manga enthusiasts – the Yokote Masuda Manga Museum.
Located in the Masuda Fureai Plaza within the public facility complex along the community hall and library, the Yokote Masuda Manga Museum officially opened in 1995. The main hall of the museum gives an atmosphere of a Ghibli movie where it features a beautiful forest. Inside the forest-themed museum is a huge eye-catching tree that extends up to the ceiling and shelves containing various kinds of manga for kids and adults. There is also specialty manga available for free reading. Similar to a library, the archived manga are arranged by series to make it easier for people to find the specific series they want to read.
As you go along the upper floor through the spiral ramps you will find interesting features about the evolution of manga through time with photographs, and concise biographical sketches of manga artists along with their artwork. The top floor features a souvenir shop with various manga collectible items. There are original sketches of various concepts in black and white and in different hues as well as autographs and messages of manga artists. In 2016, the local government is planning to expand the museum and make it a manga mecca of Japan. The museum targets to showcase about 300,000 pieces of art in the future, so it really is something to look forward to!
Anyone who dares call himself a true blue manga aficionado should know that the renowned manga artist and animator Yaguchi Takao who is also well-known for Tsurikichi Sanpei (Fishing Enthusiast Sanpei), was born in Yokote City. So, what better way to pay tribute to a renowned artist than to build and dedicate an entire space of the museum in his honor. It is said that the heart of Masuda Manga Museum is the impressive collection of the artwork by Yaguchi-san. His work on Tsurikichi Sanpei serves as an inspiration for the most famous character in the manga One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy. Aside from his artwork, the museum also features his life as a manga artist with his old photographs, drawing desk, original sketches and many more.
The museum is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm except on Mondays and national holidays. The fun part is that you only have to pay for your fares when you go to the museum because there is no admission fee except only for special exhibitions. There are several options to get to Yokote Masuda Museum. The cheapest way to get there is to take a 10-minute bus ride from the JR Jumonji Station which is bound to Higashinaruse Oyasu then get off at Sekinokuchi and walk for 10 minutes towards the museum. You can also visit their website for more information on the museum.