World's First Snoopy Museum Opens in Tokyo

Asif Khan

World's first Snoopy Museum opens in Tokyo's Roppongi district today.

It is the first official "satellite" museum of the original Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, and will display over one hundred artworks of the late American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.

Schulz is famous all over the world for his Peanuts comic strip, home to such unforgettable characters as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Sally Brown, Franklin, and so on.

Apart from being a "satellite" museum, the Snoopy Museum is also a "temporary" museum and will be open only till September, 2018, Reuters reported.

The museum is starting off its journey with an inaugural exhibition titled "My Favorite Peanuts," which will feature 60 original Peanuts cartoons selected by Jean Schulz, the cartoonist's wife.

According to gaming blog Kotaku, the Japanese have had a fascination for Snoopy since the '70s, even though they may not have been regular readers of the comic itself.

"In the 1970s, Snoopy was popular with Japanese youth, and the character started appearing on bags. Japanese people might not have read the comic strip, but liked the character's design and shape. Even today, it's not uncommon to find people who love Snoopy but who haven't really read the comics or seen the cartoons."

In October, 2013, an exhibition of original Peanuts comic strips and other material from the Schulz Museum opened in the Mori Gallery, Tokyo. A staggering 280,000 fans visited the exhibition in its brief three-month stay in Japan, Jean Schulz wrote in her blog. This impressive footfall convinced everybody connected with the project that there was a "hunger for a world-class exhibition of Peanuts art."

So, when the Schulz Museum got a proposal in 2014 to open a "time-limited" Peanuts-themed museum in a new museum building in Roppongi, they were more than happy to accept it. Thus was laid the groundwork for the present Snoopy Museum.

However, quite a bit of work remains to be done in order to raise awareness about Snoopy in Japan, a country that already has a plethora of cartoon characters and manga heroes, Braddock told Reuters.

"I think a little bit of our challenge is introducing fans to Snoopy who maybe don't know Snoopy. But once they discover Snoopy, there are universal truths in the comic that I think appeal to every generation... because the comic is not just about humor it's about relationships, it's about failures, it's about joy, it really runs the whole range of human emotion and story telling."

Jean reminisced in her blog that Charles Schulz crafted his comic strips like novelists crafted their stories, "not always in a strictly linear fashion, but by doubling back through old relationships and enriching them."

Jean's fascination for her late husband's story-telling methods has informed a lot of choices she has made while curating content for the Snoopy Museum.

"I happen to love the story lines in the strips, so I did choose several of those. To me, story lines show how both creative and clever Sparky [Charles Schulz] was at his craft. A story line, whether it is a week long or a month long, must consist of good, solid daily strips, each ending with a humorous punchline which also leads into the next day's strip. Readers of Peanuts take this for granted, but they overlook its complexity."