Ghibli Museum: Six Years Later

13 05 2009

Matt is a recovering anime geek and I am a fake one. We both love Miyazaki films. Anime became a part of my life when I was 8 years old, living in Japan with my family, and the only kids’ shows on TV were An Pan Man and Dragonball.  My 4-year-old brother and I would watch and learn random Japanese phrases.  When I met Matt, he was President of the Anime Club at his university.  “What a dork,” I thought.  And then the memories of my summer in Japan came flooding back, as well as the realization that Tonari no Totoro, one of my favorite films, is anime.  The horror!  I slowly gave in to the part of myself that likes some anime and in 2003 I went to the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo for the first time (read my story on that here).  Matt had gone in 2002.  When we finally went to Japan together in February, we went back to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo together.  Fun stuff! Except that adults still can’t play on the neko bus and you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. I did my best.



water fountain



the compound




dust bunnies



giant totoro


Not the Neko Bus, but it does Spirit You Away!

Buying tickets for the museum can be tricky. At any Lawson location you can purchase them through ticket machines. Very confusing, even with some language ability. Your best bet is to bring someone who reads the language or ask a kind shop worker for help. 

This website has step by step guidelines:

The only extra step not included in the guide is that you are asked to enter your name in hiragana on the screen following the last one they show. If you know hiragana, just enter your name as best you can (romaji was not an option) and take it to the counter.  If you don’t know hiragana, ask a kind shop worker for help.

Tickets are 1000 yen and you have to choose an entrance time (10:00, 12:00, 14:00, or 16:00) and then you can stay as long as you want to. The bus directly to the museum runs from Mitaka station on the Chuo Line very regularly. One way tickets: 200 yen. Round trip: 300 yen.

Ghibli Museum

26 04 2008

“Let’s lose our way together,” I read in the brochure I received at the entrance of the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan. “There aren’t any set routes that you must follow. You are the one to discover your own way. Those who can lose their way and fully enjoy this space are welcomed at the Museum.”

I decided I would have to remember back to the first time I went to Tokyo with my family, over 20 years ago as an 8-year-old, when I was overwhelmed with every new sight and sensation. I gazed up at the painting on the ceiling of a giant, tangled vine-like beanstalk featuring characters from Ghibli films with a smiling sun in the center and immediately felt the years start to melt away. A group of professional animators called Studio Ghibli created the pastel colored, magical museum in Inokashira Park, Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo. Hayao Miyazaki, the most well known animator of Ghibli, has produced many of the popular films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and the recent Academy Award winner Spirited Away. Studio Ghibli’s animated features, some of which have American versions, offer adult themes in a form fit for children (and childlike adults). Princess Mononoke voices the importance of nature and protecting the environment and My Neighbor Totoro introduces two young sisters whose mother is sick and are being brought up by their father.

It’s a good thing the museum didn’t exist when I was a child (it opened on October 1, 2001) or I would have begged my parents to take me every day. Children ran amok through the maze-like museum and after I got over the initial shock of being encouraged to act with no inhibitions in a museum, I joined them. My mom and I tried hard to get lost, and eventually did, leaving my father and brother behind to explore on our own, as we peeked behind every door and around every corner. Unfortunately, we couldn’t join in playing on the giant, fuzzy cat bus, one of my favorite characters from My Neighbor Totoro (little tykes only).The Ghibli Museum reveals secrets behind the films by displaying replicas of the animators’ rooms and studios complete with authentic sketches, photo albums, and books, which show works-in-progress and the animators’ inspirations.

Museum goers can see unique, original short animated features from Studio Ghibli in The Saturn Theater. Outside on the roof, accessed only by a winding metal staircase, stands a life-sized statue of a robot from Miyazaki’s futuristic film Laputa: Castle in the Sky (sorry, kids, no climbing allowed).

After running ourselves ragged, my family met at the gift shop where we picked up some souvenirs and then relaxed at the Straw Hat Café. We sat in the shade on the edge of the park and sipped our cold “Lamune,” a very sweet and fizzy drink, before we headed home, ready for a nap, with years stripped from our hearts and weight from our shoulders.