I love Ghibli movies. Of the 23 (including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and The Red Turtle), I have seen 21 of them; having never seen Ocean Waves and only half of Tales from Earthsea. This phenomenal collection of movies has earnt Studio Ghibli a legendary status amongst anime studios, often being referred to as the Japanese Disney, Hayao Miyazaki being compared to Walt Disney himself.
If you’ve been reading my posts over the last few weeks, you may have seen that I recently went to Japan (I’ve not really said much about it so it could be easily missed). On my trip, I took my travelling companions to the wonderful Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo.
Mitaka is actually slightly out the way by Tokyo standards, but thanks to the legendary Japanese train system, it was quick and easy to get there from Asakusa, where we were staying. The museum was a 10 to 15 minute walk from the station down a long thin road with trees emitting the cacophonous sound of cicada song on the opposing side (we don’t have cicadas in the UK so the sheer volume was quite surprising). After walking down the road for 10 minutes, we crossed into a park with wide pavements flanked by trees providing much needed shade from the beating afternoon sun. We continued walking with nature on our left, and the suburban town of Mitaka on our right until we happened upon it… the Ghibli Museum.
The first thing you see is a ticket gate with Totoro standing there, and a small window below brimming with soot sprites. As you walk around to the entrance, you are greeted with more of this beautifully designed building, laden in plants and vines to the point that it feels almost as if it was constructed long ago and mother nature is slowly reclaiming the space – it all felt very in line with Miyazaki’s beliefs on the preservation of our planet.
Unfortunately, photography is forbidden inside the building so I cannot show you what was on display, but I can say that it was fucking cool as shit. Fortunately, anywhere outside is open for photography, including a Castle in the Sky inspire roof section which you climb a spiral staircase to reach.
When entering, your tickets are exchanged for film tickets which all have 3 random consecutive frames from any Ghibli movie. I can’t actually identify which film mine are from, but its of a boy walking down a rooftop. This ticket granted you access to the museum, and the ability to see a short film animated by the man, the myth, the legend, Hayao Miyazaki.
Quite obviously, the highlight of the visit was being able to see the aforementioned short film although the room was so packed that we had to sit on some uncomfortable stairs rather than an actual seat. The film was Boro the Caterpillar which was a lovely short following the events of the titular Boro, a new-born caterpillar learning how to survive by watching the caterpillars around him. What I found fascinating is that there is no dialogue, but every single sound was made by Japanese comedian, Tamori, who created sounds for the caterpillars walking, eating, and shitting (yes, there’s a good old raining poop sequence). It was a truly incredible and interesting piece of animation.
From the gift shop I bought a couple gifts for a friend who couldn’t come, and also the museum’s book for myself (with English translations) which I’m yet to sink my teeth into.
Overall, if you’re planning a trip to Japan, set aside an afternoon for this and make sure to book tickets as soon as the are released otherwise they’ll probably be sold out. I waited up until 2am on the day of release and sat there through a crashing website for 40 minutes until I got mine. I’ll leave a link below to the website that tells you where to get tickets for the country that you live in.
Thank you for reading, I had a great time at the museum and feel the need to watch a Ghibli movie now. My favourite Ghibli movie has to be either Princess Mononoke or Pom Poko, what’s yours?