Manga Collector Establishes Rental Manga Museum

Today, the influence of manga can be seen everywhere, from diplomacy to international manga awards. However, a part of the manga culture is slowly fading away.

ITmedia recently talked to Ukio Takano (58), who purchased an old church for 3 million yen in April 2006 and turned it into the manga museum Aomushi (青虫, the name of the museum came from Seirindo/青林堂, publisher of the legendary comic magazine Garo, and Osamu Tezuka) hoping that it will help people remember the part of manga culture that make up the foundation of today's prospering manga culture. In the article, Takano talks about "Rental Manga":

When I was a child, manga wasn't a "cheap culture" like it is today, and I almost never read any manga when I was a student. I began collecting manga during the middle of my twenties when I worked as a businessman in Yokohama. I used to take tours in used bookstores in Tokyo and collected manga that I wanted to read as a child. I didn't drink, smoke or gamble, and most of my salary went toward manga collecting. [...] I have collected over 30,000 volumes of manga in 30 years. I didn't plan on open a manga museum at first, as I was going to read them after I retire. However, one day I felt my manga were calling to me.

Now there are around 10,000 books in Aomushi, and they're all available to the public. The collection contains vintage books such as New Treasure Island (1947) by Osamu Tezuka and other "rental manga" from 50's. Most of the visitors are in their forties and fifties. [...] This museum is located in the countryside, and I didn't open it for profit. I think it's great that manga is spreading across the world, but I hope people will remember the days of rental manga. Rental manga had a different delivery system than manga published by major publishers. They can be read only at manga rental shops, and had less restrictions and a school of nameless mangaka who can't make contracts with the major publishers.

"Rental Manga" appeared in the 50's, a time when manga were priced around 220-240 yen. A rental manga costs 10 yen for one night. Rental manga became very popular among children, but faded away after the growth of manga magazines and Japan's economic growth. Sanpei Shirato, Shigeru Mizuki, Takao Saito, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Kazuo Umezu were all manga giants who come from the rental manga field.

Translated by T. Ohara