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Manga: Professor Munakata’s British Museum adventure

The Asahi Shimbun Displays

5 November 2009 – 3 January 2010
Room 3
Admission free

Japan’s leading manga artist Hoshino Yukinobu creates a new exclusive manga inspired by the British Museum’s world collections.

Manga is a Japanese comic book art form which has become an international phenomenon in recent years. Cheap to produce, Manga is an appealing and flexible medium that engages the viewer-reader in stories in a uniquely affecting manner. Originating in Japan, manga are now being published worldwide. Many different audiences read manga, and there are manga for both children and adults.

Hoshino Yukinobu (b. 1954) is a leading Japanese manga artist. One of his most popular characters is Professor Munakata, who investigates history and folklore in his manga adventures. Hoshino has been inspired by his engagement with the British Museum and its collections to create a new manga in which his popular character Professor Munakata, a professor of folklore at the fictional Tōa Bunka University, embarks on adventures in the Museum galleries.

Hoshino Yukinobu first created Professor Munakata in 1990. Now, every two weeks, millions of readers in Japan eagerly follow the professor’s latest adventures in the manga magazine Big Comic. In October, Hoshino Yukinobu made his first visit to the British Museum. While here he created three ink drawings showing Professor Munakata’s most recent encounters with treasures of the ancient past.

Room 3 will feature scenes of past adventures which introduce visitors to the world of Professor Munakata whilst new drawings will highlight his most recent encounters with iconic treasures at the British Museum. Visitors will also be able to browse Japanese manga books in a setting which evokes a ‘manga coffee shop’, or manga kissa, in the corner of the room – a perfect way to discover more about the art of manga.

Hoshino plans to return next year to create a series of new episodes based on Professor Munakata’s adventures at the British Museum. They will feature his encounters with more of the Museum’s most iconic objects, as he delves into their mysteries. Mr Hoshino plans to publish the full series of British Museum adventures in both Japanese and English translation.

The British Museum is building representative collections to chart the phenomenon of manga from its origins in the Edo period (1600–1868) until the present. Small selections, including original manga artworks, are always included in the displays about modern Japan in the Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries.

For further information or images please contact:
Esme Wilson on +44 (0)20 7323 8394 or email
Victoria Benjamin on +44 (0)20 7323 8583 or email

Notes to editors:

Asahi Shimbun Displays
The Asahi Shimbun Displays are a series of regularly changing displays which look at objects in new or different ways. These displays have been made possible by the generous sponsorship of The Asahi Shimbun Company, who are long standing supporters of the British Museum, and have a century long tradition of staging exhibitions in Japan of art, culture and history from around the world.

Accompanying events:

  • There will be a series of free gallery talks at 13.15 in Room 3, starting with an introduction to the works of Manga master Hoshino Yukinobu by Paul Gravett, author and Director of Comica, on Tuesday 10 November 2009.
  • Further speakers include manga artist Inko, author and manga expert Helen McCarthy, manga author and artist Chie Kutsuwada, and ILYA, British cartoonist, author, editor, tutor and illustrator of Manga Shakespeare's King Lear.
  • Manga and animé expert and author Helen McCarthy selects her favourite episodes of the televised adaptation of Astroboy based on the manga series by Osama Tezuka. Astroboy was the first Japanese television series to embody the aesthetic that later became known as anime. Saturday 21 November, 14.30, Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Free, booking advised
  • A family event: Manga create a comic workshop is scheduled for Saturday 12 December, 12.30, 14.00 & 15.30, Room 3. Discover the dazzling world of Japanese comic book art (manga) with an exhibition tour and digital workshop. Sessions last about 75 minutes. Free, booking advised

Related exhibition, displays and gallery:

  • Room 91: The power of dogu: ceramic figures from ancient Japan This exhibition highlights the beauty and power of remarkable ceramic figures known as dogū, mysterious masterpieces that were produced in great numbers in prehistoric Japan. This free exhibition is on display from 10 September – 22 November 2009.
  • Room 94: Excerpts from a recent work by Hoshino Yukinobu (b. 1954) will be on display in Room 94. The imaginative work brings the world of dogūand the Jōmon period to life.
  • The Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries Rooms 92–94: For more Japanese objects in the Museum’s collection, visit Rooms 92–94 where Japanese history and culture is explored from prehistory to the present.

Hoshino Yukinobu
Shōgakukan Inc.
Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures Acknowledgment
Additional support provided by Japan Airlines