Ah, our last free day has come. We learned too late that, instead of museums being closed on Sundays, such as things are in the U.S., in Japan, they are closed on Mondays. Which was incedentally our last day, and the day we planned on going to the Nara National Museum and the Kamigata Ukio-e museum. This was not to be.
Instead, we went to Takarazuka- a small city known widely for being home to the Takarazuka Revue- an all female acting troupe that performs gigantic musicals in lavish costumes, from their staple "Rose of Versailles" and other manga-based shows, to eastern and western acts, such as "West Side Story."
But I was not here for the Revue (maybe another time. Can I have another time? There is just so much to do here...) but for the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum. Tezuka is known as the "godfather" of manga, and is most well known as the creator of "Astro-Boy" (Tetsuwan Atom.)
Takarazuka turned out to be a beautiful little city. The path to the museum (and the Grand Revue Theatre) was a flower lined path called "Hana no Michi" (unmysteriously meaning "flower path.") It was blooming in full with cherry blossoms, dogwoods, tulips, and more. I was especially in love with the giant purple dogwood flowers. The path also had statues representing Revue show genres, which were very cool.
Finally, we arrived at the Tezuka Museum. It was small, but dense with interesting information. Tezuka was prolific, and so each room was packed with information and pictures.
The first things we saw were states of his famous figures. The giant Phoenix stood outside, and life sized Princess Ribon and Astro Boy were inside. Luckily, we were permitted photos in almost every area of the museum!
The first room had rotating tubes exhibiting original comic pages, cels, sketches, paintings, and merchandise from his works. It was amazing to see the process. Some of the comic pages were over fifty years old, with the lettering paper having faded to brown. I always find "sketch to ink to paint" processes especially fascinating, as well as drawings of original concepts that final products deviate from in interesting ways. And it is always amazing to revisit the obvious similarities between "Kimba the Jungle Emperor" (1950) and "The Lion King." (1994)
Moving on, we found a exhibit of all the volumes of his works, from the late 1930s and onward, including reprinted volumes. It was stunning to see the sheer number of volumes he created. We also saw a wing dedicated to his early apartment-mates- manga artists from the 40's and 50's that lived in one apartment building and formed fast bonds. It was a touching dedication to the community he worked in. Each artist was highlighted by the apartment they lived in, the work they did, and photographs and drawings.
The whole museum was decked out with his work- walls, ceilings, fixtures- even the elevators had frosted glass mirrors depicting his characters.
After that, we went back to Osaka. Our job was to find the second Mandarake Store in Umeda. So it was back to Dotomburi! We hard a rough time figuring out where it was- we did a lot of walking- only to find that it was mere meters away from where we had gone to Karaoke earlier in the week. This shop has less figures and more doujinshi (fan comics.) I finally got up the nerve to ask where some of my favorite series comics were, and I'm glad I did, because I found some really good ones, for really cheap!
Afterwards, we met up with Rob for one last hurrah. We ate at a nice variety restaurant where I had chicken katsu, potato wedges, burdock root tempura salad, and tried sake. Which wasn't terrible.
We did one final karaoke, and then went home to pack up. We had a full day- nay, over a day's worth- of travelling to do starting in the morning.
Everything fit in our bags, on the lucky account that I packed our bags only half full. There were stuffed to the brim upon return, though. I blame the stuffed ram and Mami dolls.
We took a taxi to the train station. We took the train to Osaka Station. We took the Hikari train 3 hours back to Tokyo. We took the Narita Express one hour to the airport. We took a 13 hour flight to Atlanta (which DID give us vegetarian meals this time!), and then a two hour flight back to Boston, where JShea rescued us, and then we drove the last two hours home. We had been travelling for 30 hours.
We're happy to be back!
There will be more blog posts to come- summaries on shopping, traveling, eating vegan, and communicating, so continue to read if you're interested!