When I first watched ‘Spirited Away’ in a film festival, I was so inspired that I went digging around to watch all of the animation films that Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿) directed. Before long, I’m in love with the works of Ghibli Studio – from the famous ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ to ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’, to the awe-inspiring ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and the tear-jerking ‘Grave of the Fireflies’. Strong story-telling, inspired imagination, vivid background details and magical characterization in these animation films made it a must for me to visit the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館).
Traveling all the way to Mitaka (三鷹市), a little town in Tokyo, Japan, what filled us with anticipation was this ivy-covered building, a wrought-iron spiral staircase and a glimpse of Miyazaki’s Robot on the rooftop garden.
We trekked to the ‘false entrance’ to meet Totoro, posing as the ticket-seller to the museum, accompanied by the ‘soot spirits’ (or the little black balls).
Of course, remembering to take a shot of the signboard and liking the silhouette cut-out.
Let’s head to the real entrance of the Ghibli Museum. You’ll get a film strip ticket which allows you to view an animation short during the museum visit, and something to keep as a souvenir and remember this visit by.
I wish to share pictures of the interior with you, but no photography is allowed inside the museum. You can head to the Ghibli Museum’s Official Website to have a glimpse of its interior. Also, to give a flavor of the place’s interior, here’s a list of the Top 10 Things you mustn’t miss in this museum:
1. A elevator (lift) from the old days
2. A ‘transporter’ chair
3. Spiral staircase
4. A room depicting how animation making techniques have changed over the times, and how something 2D is made to move
5. Amazing centerpiece of the famous Robot and birds-flying scene from Laputa
6. Five rooms (‘Where a Film is Born’) depicting the different departments in Ghibli Studios fulfilling their parts in animation-making – conceptualization, drawing, story boarding, coloring, background depiction, and film transferring (very inspiring to see how the room of Hayao Miyazaki looked like, and how much details and heart go into the making of each frame). Even the walls are covered with sketches, illustrations, books, toys and inspiration boards.
7. Room displays of scenes from the animations, including a big food stall scene from ‘Spirited Away’
8. Painted murals on the walls and ceilings (this was taken at the lockers)
9. Children’s playground - Cat bus from ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ (ねこバス, Nekobasu)
10. Stained glass windows and door panels depicting famous scenes from Kiki’s Special Delivery. These are taken from the patio garden.
I was eager to head upstairs to the rooftop garden and meet the Robot from ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’. But first, you have climb up this little spiral staircase.
And ta-daa~! Meet the Giant Robot Soldier from ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’.
And I took a dramatic picture of this towering robot. I just loved its shape and spikes against the sky and the surrounding greenery.
Take the pathway behind the Robot Soldier and enter another garden.
Being an environmentalist himself, you can trust that Hayao Miyazaki will fill his Ghibli Museum with plants, flowers and water.
Don’t miss the central gazebo where you will find a charming old-fashioned hand-pump well. It’s like back to the rustic countryside.
After buying some souvenirs from the Museum shop ‘MAMMA AIUTO!’ (named after the sky pirates in Porco Rosso), I intended to go off to the cafe to sit and rest my tired feet. To my surprise, I saw these 2 cats spying out of the window. I couldn’t stop laughing at this little touch of humor, just when you are leaving the main museum building.
You will never miss the cafe with its red exterior and mosaic tile sink.
And if you are not feeling hungry, take a seat on the deck in one of the dark green garden chairs, take a sip of water, and enjoy the cool breeze.
The Ghibli Museum is quite out-of-this-world, a place that would have been in one of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation. pling thinks…it’s magical!
Thinking of visiting? If you are non-Japanese, you have to purchase the ticket when you are in your home country. They limit the number of visitors per session to avoid overcrowding and a more pleasant experience at the museum, so it’s safer to get the tickets prior to your travel dates.
2 Ways to Get Your Ghibli Museum Tickets
Japan Tourism Board (JTB)
Condition: You must purchase at least 1 night of stay with JTB in Tokyo/Chiba/Kanagawa.
In Singapore: www.jtbsingapore.com/user_file/ahq05…/dwj_ghibli_museum.pdf
No Condition: You will be picked up from one of the hotels listed in the site. A tour guide will take you to take the public transport to reach Mitaka. Public transportation charges are covered in the fee.