Monday, October 5, 2009

Mizuno Hideko and Tokiwa Manor

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Mandarake used manga complex in the Broadway building in Nakano on a quest to find example works from the Tokiwa crew (the assistants and friends who would drop by the Tokiwa apartment building when Tezuka lived there from 1952 to 1953). I picked up a good stack of books (including 3 volumes of Tori Miki's "Kuru Kuru Kurin", which is neither here nor there because he wasn't born at the time), one of which was volume 9 of Mizuno Hideko's "Konnichiwa Sensei" ("Hello, Doc"). I ended up encountering an American associate professor from the University of Notre Dame, who is currently doing research on early girls' manga magazines. She was very familiar with Mandarake's layout, and Mizuno's works, and she told me about the Yayoi Museum, which occasionally offers Mizuno's books in their shop.

(Entrance to the Yayoi Museum.)

The Yayoi Museum, and the neighboring Takehisa Yumeji Museum, are two small galleries near Ueno park, which display works that were owned by the lawyer (and now curator) Takumi Kano. Yayoi is a small building with 3 floors that can be used for rotating shows. Yumeji has 2 floors with some fixed works on permanent display. The two buildings have connecting doorways and there's a coffee shop in front at street level.

It just so happens that from Oct. 1 to Dec. 23, Yayoi has an exhibit dedicated to the girl's magazine "Shojo no Tomo" ("Girl's Friend"), which was published from 1908 to 1955 (the last exhibit was dedicated to boy's SF stories). The current exhibit has a number of copies of Tomo, plus some early copies of Shonen Magazine and Shonen Sunday (the first successful weekly boy's magazines which started in 1959). There's a lot of pages from Tomo, plus examples of some of the manga that appeared in the magazine. The exhibit is on the first two floors, which aren't that big, so you can see everything within half an hour even if you take your time. However, if you're a fan of manga history, you've got to see this exhibit.

Early girl's magazines were only a few pages long (later, they started getting closer to 50-100 pages) and contained mostly just stories and how-to articles. If there was any artwork at all, it was used for illustrating the text. Later on, Tomo began carrying short manga stories and gag set-ups. Most manga artists prior to 1959 cut their teeth on girl's monthly magazines, as did Tezuka, for example. At the time, if someone did draw manga, it would have been for Tomo or one of its competitors. It wasn't until 1959 and the advent of Weekly Shonen Sunday and Weekly Shonen Magazine that manga for boys really caught on. Since Tezuka was working in Tokiwa Manor from 1952 to 1953, it's pretty obvious that the Tokiwa crew started out making shojo manga. Two of the manga that had sample pages displayed in the exhibit were Tezuka's "The Maiden of Tatsugafuchi" and "Robin-chan" (roughly 1954).

(Marker sign plus poster for Shojo no Tomo show.)

Finding the Yayoi Museum can be a bit tricky if you don't know the area. If you exit at Ueno station on the JR Yamanote line, then cut through the park to come out at the opposite side of the pond (where you can rent duck boats to ride in) at Shinobazu Dori. Turn right and walk about half a mile to the first major cross street - Kototoi Dori. Turn left and head for Todai University. Just as you reach the main campus, turn left. You should see the signs advertising the Yayoi Museum here (if you reach 319, Hongo Dori, you went too far) - the entrance is next to the museum coffee shop, a couple blocks down, on the left. The entry fee is 900 yen for adults.

Also showing at Yayoi on the third floor is "The Retro Modern World", a small collection of paper cutout artwork (shojo style) by Anno Moyoco. It's really well-done, especially the shadowbox theater. But, it's a small exhibit, and is only worth visiting if you're already in the area.

Yayoi museum
〒113-0032 東京都文京区弥生2-4-3
900 yen per adult


Also connected to Mizuno Hideko is something else that I visited on the same day. As mentioned before, Ms. Mizuno worked as an assistant at Tokiwa. On her homepage, she's got a beautiful caricature sketch of the staff, plus about 10 pages of reminiscences of her time there (naturally, all in Japanese). But, there's some good artwork mixed in with the text. In her event information page, she's got a photo taken in a library around 2007. Turns out it's the Toshima City Library in the Rise Arena building in Ikebukuro, and they'd just created a "Tokiwa Corner" in the library. Actually, it's a set of shelves on the 5th floor that contain a couple hundred copies of manga from Tezuka, Fujio Fujiko, Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujio Akatsuka and some of the other Tokiwa staff. Plus, there are a few photo books and some commentary by critics and historians.

It's a library, so you can sit there and read as much as you like for free. It's a lot more comfortable than standing around and reading in Mandarake, although Mandarake has a better selection of Tezuka's more obscure works (such as The Crater) than the library does. On the other hand, the Toshima Library has a massive collection of Ishinomori's works. To find the Tokiwa Corner, take the main elevator in the Rise Arena up to the 5th floor. Follow the hallway to the end and turn left through the security gates. The bookshelves along the left wall overlooking the open space, plus the shelves directly ahead of you are "Tokiwa".

Toshima City Library, 5th Floor
TEL: 03-3983-786

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