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Japan's 1st Manga Creator Training Café Opens

posted on by Gia Manry
Café in Nagoya offers equipment, professional lectures for budding artists

A new manga café called Manga Kūkan ("manga space") opened this past May in the Osu shopping area of Nagoya City in central Japan. Unlike other manga cafés, however, this shop is geared specifically towards would-be and young manga creators. 51-year-old shop owner Yasuhiro Naitō set up the café with equipment which budding manga creators can use. (Naitō is not the same person as Trigun manga creator Yasuhiro Nightow, although the two share the same name in kanji.)

The shop also hosts a professional manga lecture series, and the first lecture in June featured a Weekly Shonen Jump creator (identified as "O") and an two-time Akatsuka Award-winning creator (identified as "T"). The store also features a manga collection with 10,000 volumes, including about 500 out-of-print works by Shigeru Mizuki, Yumekichi Minatoya, Yoshiharu Tsuge, and other creators from Naitō's personal collection. A "Manga Live House," in which the shop's creators can show their works for comments from other customers, is also currently in the works.

Naitō was a manga club member in his college days before working at an educational publisher. During his time there, he still read manga as a hobby. As manga magazines from small publishers shut down one by one over the years, however, Naito said he felt discouraged as the number of works that expressed the unique voices of individual creators decreased. He created Manga Kūkan, he says, to help foster creators of such works. He quit his job in December of 2009 and was able to acquire space in the Osu area, home to many other anime- and manga-related shops and the World Cosplay Summit parade, this past May.

Manga Kūkan's entry fee for the six drawing tables or the regular café seating is 480 yen (about US$5.60) for the first hour; 3-hour and 6-hour packs are also available. The use of the café's pens, markers, tracers, and computer does not cost extra, but the use of the café's manuscript paper (art boards), screen tones, laminator, copier, and printer does. Naitō says that the equipment is expensive, but he wants beginners to be able to try their hand at drawing manga easily.

The Manga Kūkan café has an official website and Twitter account.

Manga cafés — which usually offer drinks, computers, Internet access, and libraries of manga — are numerous in Japan. Because they are open overnight, most have "residents" who use the cafés as a long-term living arrangement. Themed cafés designed to promote franchises have also become common, both long- and short-term, including a Gundam café, a Sakura Wars café, and a Nodame Cantabile café.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun

Images © Manga Kūkan

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