If you want to visit anime or manga-related museums in Japan, please check out my Guide.
(Back of the museum by the bike parking area.)
Sazae-san is one of Japan's most popular manga characters, having first been published in the local newspaper, Fukunichi Shimbun, on April 22, 1946, according to wikipedia. Her creator is Machiko Hasegawa, who retired the manga in 1974. "Sazae-san" was Hasegawa's main manga work, and it was turned both into an anime series that is still on the air on Sundays, and as a radio drama. Hasegawa herself was born on January 30, 1920, and died on May 27, 1992. When Asahi Shimbun decided to carry the strip, Hasegawa moved to Tokyo in 1949, saying that Sazae-san was also making the move from Kyushu to Tokyo at that time.
(Store front along Sazae-san Street.)
Machiko Hasegawa was one of Japan's first female manga artists, and in recognition for her contribution to the anime industry, she was given a posthumous Award of Merit at the Tokyo Animation Fair in 2005. "Sazae-san" itself is a simple 4-panel (yon-koma) gag strip based on the exploits of a housewife and her family.
(Front of the museum.)
The Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum is located in Setagaya Ward, in Tokyo, a few miles west of Shibuya. While the museum's website states that it's just a 7 minute walk from Sakura-Shinmachi station on the Den-en-toshi line, I made the trip on my bike from Noborito, crossing over the Tamagawa River at Futago-Tamagawa. From there, it's about 2 miles down Tamagawa Dori (route 246) to "Sazae-san Street".
(Sazae-san Street, from Tamagawa Dori near the 7-11.)
It's a little tricky finding Sazae-san St. from Tamagawa Dori, especially since my main landmark was a specific 7-11, and that 7-11 wasn't right at the corner of the intersection where I could easily see it. But, the Sazae-san banners lining the side street are the primary clue that you're in the right area. If you come from Tamagawa Dori, turn left on Sazae-san St. when you see the banners, and walk a few short blocks to the Y-intersection, turn left again and keep going another 60 meters. You'll see signs for the museum at this point, and there's a small police box (koban) at the Y-intersection. Alternatively, you can look for the Royal Host and Sizzler restaurants a littler earlier along Tamagawa Dori, turn left, then a quick right, and the museum will be straight ahead on your right.
(Back of the museum, showing the notice board.)
The museum is a small reddish brick building, 2 stories tall, with a small open plaza in front and bicycle parking around to the back. A sign near the entrance points to the bike parking.
(Front side of the park.)
To the right of the building is the "Sazae-san" park, with some plants, trees, bushes, and a little walking path and a bench to rest on. A sign next to a water pump suggests that you wash your hands after playing in the park. The paved path has inlaid pictures of the manga characters.
(Along Sazae-san Street.)
The museum itself is primarily treated as a display area for other artists, with paintings and sculptures on the first and second floors. The brochure you get states that Machiko created the museum initially as a way to show off the various paintings and glass works that she'd collected with her sister. A small "museum gift shop" at the back of the first floor sells various character goods, including banners and toys, plus volumes of the original manga, and packages of snacks like cookies and paste-filled pastries formed in the shapes of the characters. I put "museum" gift shop in quotes because there are no items for sale related to any of the other artists on display there - these are all "Sazae-san" goods. For the part of the museum dedicated to Hasegawa herself, we need to go to the second floor, to the front of the building where one room is set aside for watching the anime series on a big-screen TV. Seating is set up for about 25 people, but when I was there around noon on a Tuesday, there were only 4 other visitors and only one watching the show.
(In the park.)
Glass display cases in the room show some of Hasegawa's art, a short illustrated history of how Sazae-san got started, a pair of her glasses, and other paraphernalia. There's also a bookcase with copies of the manga to read if you so desire.
(Entrance to the right, bicycle parking to the left.)
The museum doesn't allow photos, largely due to copyright concerns for the likeness of the characters. On the other hand, the illustrations on Sazae-san Street are out in the public and free for you to look at. The staff is friendly, but there doesn't seem to be anyone that speaks English if you need it. Fortunately, they do have brochures in both English and Japanese. There is a small fee to get inside.
(Entrance to the park.)
Machiko Hasegawa Memorial Museum of Art
Hours: Generally 10 AM to 5:30 PM, Tuesday to Sunday, closed Mondays. But check the calendar before going because the museum can be closed for 1-2 weeks for special occasions.
Entry Fee: 600 yen for adults, 500 yen for high school students, 400 yen for younger children.
Address: 〒154-0015 東京都世田谷区桜新町1-30-6
Phone: 03 (3701) 8766 (Japanese only)