Hayao Miyazaki’s Animation World at Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka holds a special memory in me, probably for eternal. It features the amazing anime work from one of Japan’s most well-known animation studios, Studio Ghibli and director the great Hayao Miyazaki. Among the iconic and world-famous productions of the studio that I thoroughly enjoyed in my early years and still do are My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away – together with all the other movies makes it an amazing space and the museum experience begins even before you enter through the gates. Studio Ghibli has done a wonderful job immersing you in the fantastical yet grounded worlds of their animations through amazing architecture, creative use of signs and symbols, and of course with innovative exhibits that although simple in principle, is executed to perfection.
Centered around the motto appearing on the museum’s website “Let’s become lost children together” (迷子になろうよ、いっしょに Maigo ni narō yo, isshoni?), or “let’s lose our way together” as it is translated in the English leaflet. It has no set path or order of viewing. While the museum brochure contains a variety of languages the signs within the museum are in Japanese only. Hayao Miyazaki wanted to create a museum that was interesting and relaxing to the soul. His goal was to create a museum “that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered!” therefore I disagree with others that the Ghibli museum is just for fans, i think there is enough to do and see for this to be fun for all the family or individual.
On the bottom floor is an exhibit room showing the history and science of animation. One of the displays is a three dimensional zoetrope named “Bouncing Totoro”, with models of a smiling bat, a cat bus, Satsuki, Mei, a big Totoro along with little ones, each in a slightly different pose, arranged in rings on a spinning table. A flickering stroboscope flashes in time with the rotating models, illuminating each as it passes the same spot, creating an illusion of movement that shows how animation works.
On the first floor is a mock-up of an animation studio, with sketches, story boards, reference material and more to look at. Also shown is the process of creating an animated film, from sketches, storyboarding, keyframing, cleanup, coloring, background painting, etc.
In addition to Ghibli-oriented exhibitions, the museum hosts an area where it brings in other animation work. These exhibits are not permanent and rotate out on a varying basis. One more important thing to note is that the Special Exhibits Room is also located on this floor.
Keep in mind that photos are not allowed in the museum and although many will bemoan this, I can see why it makes sense. If photos were allowed, visitors will be busy snapping pictures of everything and fail to just appreciate and soak in the ambiance. Till today the images are still embedded clearly in my head (buy the postcards etc if you need pictures to remember). Photos are allowed outside though and you can get a feel for the museum from my photos.
One of the highlights is that each guest to the museum is permitted to watch one of the featured short film at the Saturn Theater during a single visit. The Straw hat cafe at the museum is also an attraction in its own right. I was there right at opening and many visitors rushed ahead to queue at the cafe (which opens a bit later). One tip is to hurry up to the rooftop to get an uninterrupted photo with iconic Laputa robot warrior and then perhaps alternate with someone in the group to queue for a table at the cafe. You can always browse the museum after a brunch.
The Ghibli Museum is definitely a magical place. It’s not that big, it’s not a theme park (more a fine arts museum), but it packs a lasting impression. It does help though if you’re familiar with the work of Studio Ghibli. Non-fans may give this excellent attraction a miss.
Straw Hat Cafe:11:00-18:00
Closed Weekly Holiday: Every Tuesday.
Other: Year-end and New year Holidays, periodic maintenance – click here to view calendar.
Address1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi,
Access: To Mitaka station, take the JR Chuo Line. Approx. 20 min. from Shinjuku station.It takes approximately 15 minutes walk along the Tamagawa Josui “Waterworks” from Mitaka Station South exit. A community bus is in operation from Mitaka Station to the museum
(fare:one-way 200 yen / round trip 300 yen – 1/2 price for children under 12 years old).
Click to view timetable and printer friendly map.