Tokyo's Toshima Ward to Reconstruct Legendary Manga Artists' Apartment

posted on by Eric Stimson
Hopes to promote manga-related tourism ahead of Olympics

Toshima Ward in Tokyo announced on July 7 that it will reconstruct Tokiwa-sō, an apartment building in that ward's South Nagasaki neighborhood famous for housing some of Japan's most renowned early manga artists, including Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), Fujio Akatsuka (Tensai Bakabon), Fujiko Fujio (Doraemon) and Shotaro Ishinomori (Kamen Rider). The building was torn down in 1982 when it fell into disrepair, but in the years since the address has become a tourist destination for curious manga fans. The reconstructed Tokiwa-sō will be built in South Nagasaki Hanasaki Ward Park, only about 200 meters (650 feet) away.

Tokiwa-sō was about 420 square meters (4,521 square feet) big with two stories. Beginning in late July, the ward will hold meetings with manga artist Machiko Satonaka (Karyūdo no Seiza) and others with knowledge of the apartment, such as friends and family of the residents. It envisions a museum space showcasing the work environment of Japan's struggling early manga artists. Yukio Takano, the ward chief, called the apartment "holy ground for Japan's manga and anime culture, which it can now boast of around the world."

Shinichi Suzuki, an animator who lived in Tokiwa-sō (and a model for Mr. Koike in Fujio's Obake no Q-Taro), recalls the apartment fondly. "Back then we didn't have any money, and as close friends like brothers, we worked as hard as we could under the same roof, making our manga." He admits that it was an old building with cracks so big the sunlight shone in, but was happy to hear that it would be reconstructed.

Mikio Koide, who has been active in using the site of Tokiwa-sō to revitalize the neighborhood through an informative rest stop and a monument, was also glad to hear the news. The nearby shopping district once had over 300 businesses, but they have since dwindled to about 80. "I'd like the shopping street's rejuvenation to be tied to lots of manga fans visiting from inside and outside Japan now that Tokiwa-sō is being reconstructed," he explained.

The ward hopes to complete the reconstruction by March 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The project is estimated to cost two to three hundred million yen (about $2 - 3 million). Visitors to Japan who like the idea of staying in a room surrounded by manga might be interested in Tokyo's manga apartments for foreigners.

Sources: Asahi Shimbun Digital: Tomohide Yamada, Sankei News, NHK News Web and The Japan Times

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