Another item that has been sitting on my to-do list for years as finally been checked. Hayao Miyazaki is regarded as the Japanese Walt Disney, a masterful animator who has created the best anime in the history of the world. In Mitaka, Tokyo, there is a museum in an artistically designed house-like structure that displays the magnificence of Studio Ghibli.
Inspired by Walt Disney, Miyazaki devoted his life to creating anime that depicts human emotion and character growth. Each anime of his vividly displays the development and change of the main character by what they go through. I personally love Miyazaki’s films because the scenes he draws are so captivating, and the nature so awe-inspiring that it made me fall in love with Japan. His characters are so unique and realistic that I couldn’t help but identify with the classics such as Chihiro from Spirited Away or Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service or even San from Princess Mononoke. It was a dream come true to visit this museum of his.
Mitaka is less than an hour away from Central Tokyo. I took to the train to Mitaka station and walked about 20 minutes to reach the Museum. Along the walk, I was pleasantly surprised by encouraging signs from Totoro.
Next to the museum is a large park called Inokashira Park which used to inspire Hayao as his childhood residence was nearby. The museum opened in 2001 and was designed by Hayao himself to be a ‘portal to a storybook’. Outside the building stands a huge Totoro in a glass room (resembling a ticket counter?) and a small window with dustbunnies underneath. The building is covered with green plants leaching up the walls. There is also a spiral staircase you can see people walking up to get to the roof, which houses a small rooftop garden and Robot Soldier from Castle in the Sky and Lupin III.
The entrance is guarded by ticket checkers. The walls along the building are painted different colors and for some reason this made me even more excited about what I would find inside. We got our *tickets checked and walked the path to the main entrance. Inside, the staff very friendly greeted us, gave us a pamphlet, and told us No Pictures Are Allowed Inside! This came as such a shock to me, because I wanted to capture every moment. I couldn’t even get a picture of the beautiful glass stained windows with the world’s favorite characters of his best selling movies. They handed us a ticket, which is a film clip from one of the anime and can be stamped to see the short movie playing (explained soon).
By disappointment of not being able to take pictures was quickly vanished after walking inside. There were many different ways to take and another spiral staircase, that I already felt lost! Hayao did well, when he made the slogan, “Let’s get lost together” for the museum!
The first floor has displays all about animation and a small cuts of animation you can watch from a live film roller. There were also small tunnels that were misleading; it felt like a playground for children. The other side of the first floor has a small theater. Here, you can watch short film movies that can only be seen in the Ghibli Museum! This day, I saw くじらとり, or The Whale Hunt, which is about some kindergarten kids creating a make-believe boat that ends up sailing in the sea and so they go hunting for a whale! It was extremely cute but all in Japanese (no subtitles). I think there are about 12 different movie shorts you can see.
Upstairs was my favorite room. Miyazaki’s creators room, How a Film is Made. Miyazaki’s studio is recreated here. Littered over the walls and desks are sketches and story boards of the Studio Ghibli movies. They were so beautiful! Some were water-colored, others were black and white. Along the book shelves were reference books of leaves, plants, houses, airplanes, etc. They even had fake tray table with food and snacks that Miyazaki would eat (presumably) while he created his beautiful work. This exhibition was about 3 or 4 rooms large, and the best part for me.
On the other side is a room with a Cat Bus. I couldn’t help but be jealous. Only kids 12 and under can enter the cat bus and play with the dustbunny plushes. They looked so happy sitting in the Cat Bus and jumping around! I didn’t want to watch (and couldn’t get past the guard, sorry guys!) so we exited and found the spiral staircase that goes up to the rooftop and the Robot Soldier!
Luckily my patience was rewarded because the other room has a Cat Bus where adults can sit inside. It was super comfy, as you expect a cat bus would be. Some Pixar exhibits were there as well. Two more rooms contained Tri Hawks (a book shop meant to inspire kids to read and appreciate anime, with books picked by the creator himself!) and Mama Auito! (Mother help me! in Italian, a gift shop with Ghibli goods). I wish I could buy some Ghibli plates and jewelry!!
Outside is the Staw-Hat Cafe. I ordered the Star-Hat Omurice (Omelet-rice) and my friend ordered Chiffron cake, which was an incredibly huge slice for Japan standards! Our tickets were for 4pm and the shop closed at 7 (as did our eating) so we couldn’t check out the back garden longer.
I am so happy to report I finally visited the Ghibli Museum. I felt inspired to be more creative. I wish I could draw like Miyazaki. The watercolor paintings were so beautiful, I wish I could buy his studio and live in it! Thank you Miyazaki for making such moving movies and being my influencer to move and live in Japan. My life would be incomprehensively different if you hadn’t created these movies. Who know’s where I would be, but I wouldn’t be living in Japan, probably!
For any Ghibli fans, I can’t recommend it enough!!
*Tickets can only be bought from JTB in America, or from the convenience stores in Japan called Lawsons. As of now, the interface system Loppi (ticket-selling machine) is only in Japanese. I think this will change soon, because in the past few months I have noticed the subway stations add English to the signs and recordings, making it much easier for tourists to travel in Tokyo! If you need help, ask the store clerks (although they probably can’t speak English) or just say watashi wa ghibli bijutsukan ni ikitaindesuga…chotto tetsudatemoiidesuka? If you can! You must search through the dates, but be warned, in the summer they sell out very quickly! Tickets go on sale on the 10th of the month for the next month. Buy then! One ticket is 1,000 yen for an adult.
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