Updated July 27, 2022
How Much Does Manga Cost In Japan?
A lot of people get interested in Japan through Japanese comics, or manga.
Manga is one of Japan’s most prominent literary exports, so if you're living in (or moving to) Japan, you might be looking to buy some. And that might beg the question, how much does manga cost in Japan?
Well, if you're in the market to buy some Japanese manga, then you're in luck. Manga can be a super cheap hobby, as long as you know where to find it.
Is it worth it to buy manga? Is new manga better than used? Here’s everything you need to know, from how to find manga to buying used and new manga in Japan.
In this article: 📝
What Is Manga?
While manga is a favorite among those living in Japan, not everyone is into it. Those who've read it before know manga offers new and unique worlds to explore. But what is manga?
In a nutshell, manga is a term for Japanese comics and graphic novels, usually printed in black and white. People read them from right to left, and and there are a wide array of genres.
You can pick from five main categories of manga depending on your demographic. The most common ones include:
- Shounen (Young male)
- Seinen (Adult male)
- Shoujo (Young female)
- Josei (Adult female)
- Kodomomuke (Young children)
Of course, these demographics are not exclusive to the target market. Manga enthusiasts can read shounen and even shoujo manga, even if it’s not for their demographic. Many manga demographics are akin to suggestions rather than rules as long as you enjoy the story.
Ongoing manga is sold weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Many are sold in publisher anthologies together with other manga titles. Every manga in an anthology constitutes one chapter in the story. Eventually, these chapters collect into volumes known as a tankoubon.
One example is "Shonen Jump" — one of the most popular weekly manga anthologies. It was the birth place of some of the most popular series ever, like "Naruto" and "One Piece".
Some collectors prefer buying "tankoubon" copies of their favorite manga due to their low cost and improved quality. Tankoubons are collections of several weeks' worth of chapters, sold as a separate book. Most tankoubon copies offer superior quality paper, more clear details, and minor fixes of printing errors during a story’s weekly publication.
How Much Manga Costs In Japan
Let’s get straight into the answer: the cost of manga in Japan varies, depending on the issue. One new volume (i.e "tankoubon" book) of manga costs somewhere between ¥400 to ¥500. This translates to around $3.50 to $4, depending on the foreign exchange rate.
Each volume contains 8 to 12 chapters, with each chapter comprising 20 to 30 pages. Depending on the series you’re following, a manga volume can be anywhere between 180 to 250 pages.
For example, Hajime Isayama’s Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) only has four chapters per volume. This is due to the massive 50-page chapters he produces, making every volume around 200 pages. On the other hand, Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter × Hunter has 8 to 9 chapters with around 192 pages per volume.
These books are even cheaper if you’re looking for weekly publications and magazines. For example, manga anthologies like Weekly Shounen Jump cost around ¥250 or roughly $2. This price comes from the recycled paper they use, which explains its low cost.
As you can see, manga is mostly a cheap hobby in Japan you can have as you work. Even those working part-time jobs in Japan can afford them, and some even have a massive manga collection.
Buying Manga Online vs. In-Person: Which Is Better?
Now that you know how much manga costs in Japan, it’s time to think about how to actually buy your favorite mange. When purchasing manga titles, you have two main choices: buy them online or buy them from a store. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, with perks that work better depending on your priorities.
Let's dive into the differences.
Buying Manga Online
Buying manga online is terrific as you can get perks you won’t find with an in-store purchase. First, you can browse for titles while checking if the story is good. You can use the internet to see synopses, summaries, and even art styles to make an informed decision.
You’re also more likely to find titles that aren't sold on shelves for that specific week. You could buy volumes of the same title and save yourself the hassle of sourcing back issues for the same price. With online stores, you have plenty of options on what you buy, and you can compare prices, editions, and shipping costs.
Several options come to mind when buying manga online. The best places to buy manga include:
These picks make it easy to buy manga online and browse the most popular or even the most obscure stories you can find.
Buying Manga In-Person
While shopping online is convenient, nothing beats the experience of shopping in person. Most stores have fixed release schedules, making finding yourself a manga and scheduling your purchases easier.
The advantage of going to a physical store is that you’re bound to find rare or out-of-print collections. Finding a physical copy instead of a digital version can be rewarding if you're into collecting. Paperback titles also tend to be easier to read and more enticing, so going in person can give you that level of satisfaction.
Stores also offer great deals during holidays, wherein you can sometimes get as much as 20-30% off. While not all deals are this good, occasional discounts are worth looking forward to, mainly if you’re dedicated to your favorite manga.
In Japan, it’s not unheard of to get special discounts and timed sales when buying manga in person. You can even find specialty aisles and experts in dedicated bookstores to give you good recommendations.
You’ll also find manga clubs for foreign and local fans when buying manga in Japan. You can meet and find friends within these circles, especially if you live in Japan and looking for friends or socialization.
However, some stores can be intimidating, especially those unfamiliar with them or who lack confidence. Also, not all shops are accessible to foreigners, limiting your options on where to buy.
If you’re looking for places to buy manga in person, you have various options, including almost every konbini and small corner bookstore. If you’re looking for something simple like Weekly Shounen Jump, almost every konbini will be good enough.
For those working in Japan and want something more obscure, there are several places you can visit. These include:
- Book Off
- Yaesu Book Center (Tokyo)
- Tsutaya Shibuya
- Lots of shops around the Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo
There are also places where you can buy specific manga titles and genres. For example, Otome Road has many shoujo titles and titles from the boys’ love genre.
Finding English Manga in Japan
With the worldwide boom of manga and foreigners living in Japan, many foreign residents are looking for English manga in Japan.
Considering manga is primarily for a Japanese-speaking reader base, you can expect the vast majority to be in Japanese.
If you can read and speak fluent Japanese, this shouldn’t be a problem. Even if you have intermediate reading capabilities, the furigana on the manga should give you a good idea about what the characters say.
It can take a bit of work to find English manga in Japan, but it’s not impossible. There are plenty of outlets where you can purchase English-language versions. You just need to know where to look.
Tokyo is the best option for buying English manga in Japan. If you’re concerned about how much manga in English costs, don't worry: the price shouldn’t differ too much.
Some places to buy English manga include:
- Kinokuniya Shinjuku South in Takashimaya
- Maruzen Nihonbashi
- Maruzen and Junkudo Shibuya
- Yaesu Book Center
- Shosen Book Tower
- Book Off in Nishi-Gotanda
Many of these chain bookstores have a wide selection of foreign language manga and books. For example, Book Off in Nishi-Gotanda has one of the most extensive selections of English manga titles.
How Much Does Doujinshi Cost in Japan?
Another term you might come across is doujinshi, which refers to self-published or fan-made works. These are the equivalent of indie manga, following fan interpretations of existing manga or original, non-serialized works. Doujinshi can be any genre, though some lean towards adult content.
While doujin works aren’t as mainstream as regular (or professional) publications, they have their own share of popularity. These works are self-published and drawn by amateur artists, often on commission. If you’re a fan of these works, you might ask how much does doujinshi cost in Japan?
Depending on the subject matter and the number of pages, you’ll find doujinshi from anywhere between ¥250 to ¥1000 per book, which translates to $2 to $8. These tend to have better quality than some mass-produced publications because so few of them are available.
Doujinshi also tends to be more expensive than mainstream manga because they need to support the indie artists and circles that make them. Each book goes from anywhere between 25 pages and up to as much as 200 pages for complete tankoubon copies.
Many doujin titles are one-shot stories by artists, so they also tend to be rarer. If you live in Japan and have the time, you can visit events like Comiket and Gataket to get the best and most updated issues.
If you’re looking to buy doujinshi outside of Comiket events, there are also physical and digital locations where you can get them. There are the usual suspects for manga for in-person sales like Akihabara, Otome Road in Ikebukuro, and Nakano Broadway.
As for online shops, some options ship doujinshi at your doorstep, including:
- Alice Books
Access to doujinshi is getting easier every year that passes by. If you live in Japan, a visit to Tokyo should give you easy access to these indie works.
Buying New Vs. Used Manga In Japan
While 95% of your regular, mass-marketed, or professionally published title will be brand new, there are still ways for you to find some fantastic deals on second-hand or used books too. So, how much does second-hand manga cost in Japan?
Depending on the title and condition of the manga, some used titles can cost as little as ¥100 or a single dollar. This is perfect if you’re planning to buy an entire series or fill the gaps in your collection. If you’re also looking to start a collection, buying used manga might be a good idea.
Apart from the price, buying used manga in Japan is fantastic for its quality. Most Japanese are very careful with their collections; some simply read the book once and keep their manga stored on their bookshelves. Unless you’re looking for a collectors’ edition or a Japan-only edition of a manga, you should find buying used manga easy.
So, why would you want to buy new manga in Japan?
There’s always the satisfaction in buying manga that you’re the first to read, for starters. The satisfaction of ripping off the packaging and being the first owner can be unparalleled.
Manga is also cheap enough that you may not need to buy it used. Most new manga is also fantastic if they’re the superior reprints or the latest volume in the series.
The Bottom Line
For those looking to visit or live in Japan, manga is a vital entertainment source. Many foreigners who love Japan love manga too, so knowing how much manga costs in Japan can be helpful. It helps you plan for the books you’ll buy and where you can find the best deals.
Regardless, buying manga in Japan can be a wonderful experience, whether you buy it in-person, online, new, or used. Good luck with your search!
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