Japan's 1st Color Manga Magazine Digitized for Posterity, 113 Years Later

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

The city of Saitama is digitizing the Tokyo Puck magazine, which is known as Japan's first color manga magazine, in order to help preserve it. The digital archive project recognizes the magazine as a work with high cultural value. The project is part of the Japanese government's "Meiji 150 Years" campaign that honors the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Meiji era in 1868.

Inspired by the American satire magazine Puck, which featured cartoons and political satire, Rakuten Kitazawa launched the full-color satire magazine Tokyo Puck in 1905. Rakuten is known as Japan's first occupational manga creator, and he drew many political manga for his magazine. Although Rakuten was editor-in-chief of the magazine and remained involved until the early Meiji era, the magazine was intermittently published until 1941 in the Shōwa era. The Japanese magazine was translated into English and Chinese and sold in other parts of East Asia.

The remains of Rakuten's residence lie in the former city of Ōmiya, which is now part of Saitama. The city established the Saitama Shiritsu Manga Kaikan (Saitama Municipal Manga Museum) in 1966. With a focus on Rakuten's works, the museum also possesses and displays works from modern manga creators.

The museum stores original copies of the Tokyo Puck magazine in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, and some samples are on display as panels. In addition to protecting the historical content from deterioration, the digitization project allows more works to be on display. A museum representative said that he hopes the project will let more people know about Rakuten's works.

The nationwide "Meiji 150 Years" project is aiming to preserve the history of the Meiji era. Cities throughout Japan are participating with projects centering on local history and culture. As part of the project, the "Minna de Tsukuru Meiji 150-nen Kyoto no Kiseki" (150 Years of Meiji: Kyoto's Wonders Made by Everyone) website features historical photographs. The website's records include photographs of the original Nintendo headquarters in Kyoto.

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun (Arimasa Mori)

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