Fans of animation from around the globe have something to enjoy at one of Japan’s most fun and delightful museums, Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. This fanciful wonderland is not only a tribute to legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s famous work but also to animation itself. So if you are not so familiar with classic Japanese films like My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away or Castle in the Sky, you can still have an amazing time at this museum!
Before even going inside, you can see the whimsical style of the museum that was inspired by Italian architecture. There are plenty of adorable details of your favorite Ghibli characters throughout the grounds, like in or around the Straw Hat Cafe, Totoro himself waiting to greet you at the entrance and even some characters included in the bathroom decorations! But let’s take a look at what the inside of the museum has to offer. You are not allowed to take photographs so that you can enjoy the experience with your own senses, but here the atmosphere of these 5 parts of the museum will be recreated for you!
Every year the museum has a special, temporary exhibit. The Haunted Tower began in the spring of 2015 and will continue until May of 2016. According to the museum’s website, this exhibition is based on Rampo Edogawa’s novel, Yureito (which is the Japanese word for haunted tower). As you might expect, the exhibit is perfectly fitting with Miyazaki’s unique art style. You can find a large clock tower, artistically designed gears and of course, Miyazaki’s own drawings recreating the novel’s story. This story is clearly very dear to his heart and the details in the exhibition are fascinating. Hurry if you want to catch this haunting display!
A section of the museum for those who appreciate animation is this quaint yet colorful model of an animation studio. Designed like a child’s room, the walls of the studio are covered in colorful pictures and the area surrounding the desk has plenty of details to make this room seem like it really belongs in a house. Once you set eyes on it, you will be able to imagine a young Hayao Miyazaki seated at the little desk, carefully drawing his beloved characters.
When you enter the museum, you’ll notice that along with your ticket, you have been given a piece of film strip. This is your ticket to the short film that you can see while in the museum’s own movie theater. Short films exclusive to the museum are shown and you can catch one depending on the time of day you are admitted inside. Much like the rest of the museum, this theater is not dark and dreary but very colorful! The ceiling is blue and there are bright benches to sit on while you enjoy the shorts!
If you watched My Neighbor Totoro as a child (or if you’re just an adult who loves this movie), you probably dreamt of riding on the catbus! Well now…you still can’t. Unfortunately, this playroom is not for the kid in all of us. Children 12 and under are welcome to live their dreams and climb in on and around this famed character. Even if you can’t experience it for yourself, seeing the catbus in person is sure to make you happy.
This may not be inside the museum per se, but it is one of the best parts of the experience. Similar to the catbus, the rooftop garden gives you the chance to get up close and personal with a beloved character from Ghibli movies. The rooftop gardens are charming enough on their own, but what makes them really special is the giant statue of a robot from Castle in the Sky! Luckily, photography is allowed on the roof, so plenty of museum visitors have their picture taken with this guy!
The Ghibli Museum has so many little details to enjoy that it seems difficult to narrow it down to just five points most visitors love. Once you visit and see for yourself, you’ll want to keep going back to make sure you didn’t miss anything!