Kimberly Madrid: Volunteering at Kyoto International Manga Museum

For my CIP, I am volunteering at the Kyoto International Manga Museum once a week. The museum has over 300,000 items in its collection of manga volumes and magazines and guests spend hours pouring over their favorite series or finding new ones. Despite the museum feeling more like a library than like an actual museum, it does have permanent exhibitions on display and has special exhibitions and events every few months.

KCJS’s contact at the museum, Watanabe-san, is one of the sweetest people I’ve met while in Japan. She helped me feel much more comfortable about my role at the museum from my first shift. On my first day, she gave me the official tour and introduced me to most of the museum staff. Although I had mentally prepared myself to do self-introduction after self-introduction, Watanabe-san actually ended up doing my self-introduction for me, telling staff members, my name, home institution, what I was currently studying at Doshisha, and in one case, even my favorite food (our initial conversation had been very extensive). At the time, I was both kind of relieved and kind of put out. My Japanese may be shaky, but I can do at least a self-introduction, I thought. But when I mentioned this in Japanese class recently, it was pointed out that maybe that was Watanabe-san’s way of both helping calm my first-day jitters and taking responsibility for me as someone who would be working under her.

As for what I actually do at the museum, it varies from menial tasks like making plastic covers for manga volumes to writing a script for an English tour to going through the special galleries and writing my thoughts on them. Some days are more exciting than others, like when I was told to go look at all the exhibits of the Kyoto Seika University Manga Faculty Graduation Showcase and talk to the Seika students. Others are slow, spent cutting plastic and outfitting volumes in it. But I am really glad I chose to volunteer here. While it is a bit difficult to get to know the staff members as my break is at a different time than theirs, becoming a part of the Manga Museum community is definitely doable if you put in the effort. There’s usually one person on their lunch break at the same time I have my break and I’ve chatted with a couple of staff members after running into them in the hallway. Recently I started helping out at the front desk and between greeting customers, I had a fun conversation about my time in Japan and favorite manga with Tsuchida-san, one of the front desk staff.

Overall, I’ve had fun while volunteering at the Manga Museum. While I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for something more social, the museum is definitely a great place to have as a CIP.

2 thoughts on “Kimberly Madrid: Volunteering at Kyoto International Manga Museum

  1. Hi Kimmy!!! It looks like you had a great time at the manga museum! As a fan of manga myself, I really enjoyed reading about your experiences at your CIP. Particularly, I’m interested in the opportunity you had to talk to the Seika University students about their graduation works. After getting a chance to look through those, did you learn anything new about the medium of manga in general or its publication process? What in particular caught your interest as you were talking to these students (e.g. motivation to join the manga faculty, what consists of taking classes as a student of manga, etc)?

    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  2. Kimberly–

    The opportunities afforded to you by the Manga Museum seem like they were fantastic; being able to both practice Japanese and learn about the manga creation process with Kyoto Seika students, considering what to include in an English-language tour of the museum, and all the rest. Otsukaresama!