Here is My Home!

The Amazing Draw of Anpanman
When the Anpanman Museum was built, the Mayor of Kahoku-cho was quite anxious. He figured the museum would only be maintained with a minimum of 100,000 visitors per year. To his happy surprise, the museum received 300,000 visitors during its first year!

The museum is a four-story square building on 3,766.7 square meters of land. The top or fourth floor is an exhibition hall for Yanase’s original Anpanman illustrations, drawn and painted especially for the museum. Visitors can see about a hundred of these Anpanman pictures. Animation cels are also exhibited on this floor.

The second and third floors consist mostly of storage space, but the glass walls enable visitors to peek in. Mr. Yanase is the Honorary Director of the museum and has an office on the third floor. With his home and studio in Tokyo, Mr. Yanase travels from Tokyo to Kochi almost every week. Besides the exhibition in this museum, Anpanman-related exhibitions are held somewhere in Japan all of the time, so Mr. Yanase is definitely one of the busiest cartoonists in Japan.

The Anpanman Museum in Kahoku-cho. © Yanase Studio, 1999 The fourth floor features original Anpanman artwork. © Yanase Studio, 1999.

On the first floor, one will find the museum’s souvenir shop and Anpanman Theater where one can see Anpanman television cartoons on video. On the basement floor is Anpanman World, a sort of playground for children where they can play with Anpanman dolls or be fascinated by miniature scenes. On Sundays and holidays, members of the staff wear Anpanman or side character costumes and entertain the children.

The Anpanman Museum is for children who enjoy their first anime experience through Anpanman cartoons, and become interested in this medium. However, the museum personnel were surprised to discover the wide range in their visitors’ age groups. The age span has been from 18 months to 90 years-old! The museum never expected visitors of such varied ages. It is not uncommon for three generations to arrive in a family sedan, holding perhaps five people. The Anpanman Museum is an attraction for the whole family in the truest sense, appealing both to infants and senior citizens alike. Since 1997, a new trend has seen an increase in the number of junior and senior high school girls among visitors.

Costumed Anpanman characters delight people of all ages on Sundays and holidays. © Yanase Studio, 1999.

A Wide Range of Influence
Before the Anpanman Museum opened, Kahoku-cho was a totally unknown town. Now, however, it is very different with Kahoku-cho blossoming into a boom town. To get to the museum, it is a 30-minute drive from Kochi Airport, or a 45-minute drive (or an hour bus trip) from the center of Kochi City. Last August, Kochi Prefecture was hit by a typhoon, and traffic conditions were at their worst. Despite this, the museum received quite a lot of visitors. As of July, 1998, the total number of visitors since its opening has reached an amazing 500,000.

The Anpanman TV cartoon series is aired in Korea, Thailand, Spain and Brazil. Anpanman picture books have been published in Korea and China. NTV is now preparing to sell the series to English-speaking countries.

Reflecting the popularity of Anpanman are the amazing sales of Anpanman-related merchandise, which in the past ten years has reached a total of ¥400 billion (roughly US $3.5 billion). So far there have been over 350 Anpanman picture book titles, and Anpanman videos have sold more than two-and-a-half million copies.

In truth, the significance of Anpanman is in its simplicity. To be accessible to children, the storylines are simple, and so are the drawings which are created using only simple lines. A child can easily draw Anpanman. Yet the philosophy behind this superhero character is not necessarily that simple. Yanase created this character with this thought in mind: Those who do justice must somewhat sacrifice themselves, too.

People waiting in line to experience the popular Anpanman Museum. © Yanase Studio, 1999.

Anpanman Museum Details
Address: 1224-2, Birafu, Kahoku-cho, Kami-gun, Kochi-Lon, 781-4212, Japan
Telephone: (81) 08875-9-2300
Fax: (81) 08875-7-1410

Hours:
July-August: 9:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
September-June: 9:30 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays.

Entrance Fee:
Adults: ¥600
Junior High — High School Students: ¥400
Children (over three-years-old): ¥300
Senior Citizens (over 65) or Handicapped: Half Price

Access:
From Kochi railway station: 45 minutes by car or 1 hour by bus.
From Kochi port: 1 hour by car.
From Kochi airport: 30 minutes by car or taxi.

Kosei Ono is a Tokyo-born graduate of the International Christian University of Tokyo. A writer and film critic, he is also a member of ASIFA Japan. His books include: History of Chinese Animated Films (1988), Tezuka Osamu (1990) and Asia no Manga (Cartoonists of Asian Countries) (1995). He is also a translator of such books as Little Nemo in Slumberland and Bone. He is currently preparing the book, History of Japanese Animated Films.