If you’re an art and design teacher looking for an unforgettable school tour, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your best options are the classics of Italy, or an expedition to the Louvre in France.
However, if you’re looking for a trip with a difference, Japan is an ideal destination. The country’s rich history of anime and manga art means that it provides an insightful, engaging, and brand-new glimpse into the international art scene. There are over 500 animation studios in Tokyo alone, making it a perfect city base for an art tour. So, if you’re looking to book an anime Japan school tour, here’s a taste of what you can expect!
Suginami Animation Museum
Though Akihabara currently takes the crown for the home of otaku culture (more on that later), Suginami is deemed the country’s true home of anime, and as such is an important artistic and cultural epicentre in Tokyo. Of those aforementioned 500+ animation studios, over 130 are located in Suginami alone. In recognition of the area’s contribution to the art form, the Suginami Animation Museum was founded. One of the first museums of its kind, it’s a truly interactive space that explores the cultural history of the Japanese form, with special attention paid to the local area.
A visit there also provides students with the opportunity to try their own hand at animation, when they take part in a workshop which teaches them how to create their very own flipbook video!
But although Suginami holds an important place in Japanese culture, there’s good reason that Japan’s ‘Electric Town’ proudly wears the label of the home of geekdom.
Once the city’s centre for electronic goods manufacturing, Akihabara is now a paradise for anyone obsessed with otaku (geek) culture. The neighbourhood is abuzz with anime stores, manga cafés, and retro arcades, making it a great place to gain an understanding of the popularity of anime. Exciting spots to visit include:
- The Maid Cafés, where waitstaff dress as anime or cartoon characters.
- Mandarake, a huge store that’s earned the title of ‘largest anime store in the world’.
- Super Potato, a video game store that’s a paradise for retro gamers.
Toei Animation Museum
Another place to get an insight into anime’s rich history is the Toei Animation Museum. Toei, one of the world’s leading producers of anime and manga (think Digimon and Sailor Moon) founded the museum in celebration of anime culture.
Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of animation history. There are interactive panels that allow you to search for and watch animation videos, original storyboards and celluloids from Toei’s archives, and giant photo panels with iconic anime stills on display. It’s also set in some beautiful grounds, where students can spot statues from Toei’s iconic anime series.
Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
If your students are already fans of Japanese entertainment, a must-see on your anime Japan school tour is the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo. So big that it’s described as a ‘mega-shop’, the Center is based in the Sunshine City Alpa shopping complex, and is home to all things Pokémon.
Anime lovers will find everything they could possibly want to buy – official merchandise, sweets, trading cards, or even themed ramen! They also have a selection of retro Pokémon games that your students can have a go on. It’s a fun day out for students, and the shop’s popularity is also a good reminder of the global appeal of anime.
But there’s one destination that surpasses all else for any die-hard anime fans: the Ghibli Museum. Opened by Studio Ghibli’s world-famous founder, Hayao Miyazaki, the museum in Mitaka is an absolute haven for art and design students. You’ll be welcomed at the door by a giant Totoro (who else?), and when you step foot inside the Museum, you’re transported to a magical world. With illustrations and frescos climbing the walls, it’s like you’re inside a Ghibli film! It’s full of small touches – for example, the tickets are made of pieces of original 35mm film from their works’ theatrical runs.
Inside, they’ve got a theatre playing excerpts from the Studio’s back catalogue, a beautiful rooftop garden complete with a giant robot statue, a permanent exhibition of sketches that show the animation process, and a reading room. In addition, a special exhibition in place until November 2023 explores the history of Miyazaki’s animated television directorial debut, Future Boy Conan.
Though these suggestions are centrally focused in Tokyo, there are amazing destinations for anime lovers scattered all across Japan. The country’s rich art & design heritage means that if you’re planning a trip with a difference, an anime Japan school tour might be perfect for you. You can find our showcase manga and anime trip here, but all our tours are fully customisable to your needs.