Day 21: Ghibli Museum

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I’ll admit, I’ve really been looking forward to today, even though it means the end of my trip. Ghibli Museum tickets are difficult to get because you have to reserve them in advance (and I mean weeks, if not months, in advance) and they only sell a limited amount for each day. It’s also a very popular museum, seeing as it’s dedicated to everything Studio Ghibli (which produced many notable anime films, such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro, thanks to the genius of anime director Hayao Miyazaki).

As a side note, photography is forbidden inside the museum so there will be a slight lack in pictures.

I got to the museum around 10:30 a.m. It’s located not too far away from Mitaka Station, a little bit outside Tokyo itself. It’s possible to walk there but there’s also a Ghibli-themed bus that makes its rounds between the station and the museum. Even the bus stops are decorated with an image of Totoro, Studio Ghibli’s official mascot, so I took the bus.

Anyway, the museum was packed! Hayao Miyazaki apparently designed the museum with kids in mind, so there were a lot of kids and adults alike. As a result, I had to jostle past crowds in just about every room.

Still, it was an amazing experience that was very much worth enduring the crowds. It’s pretty clear that thought and care went into every aspect of the museum. It’s whimsically designed, like that of a massive country cottage house, with wooden doors with brass knobs, winding staircases, lace tablecloths, and floral decorations. A lot of the windows featured stained glass depicting various characters from various Ghibli films, with some left clear possibly for future additions. And it really was apparent that the museum was designed for kids – there are even some passages and a staircase that are kid-sized and many exhibits have some little platforms for kids to stand on to see better.

Left: the Ghibli-themed bus stop at Mitaka Station. Top: right: my ticket and the pamphlet’s map of the museum. Bottom-right: the animation cels in my ticket.

Even the tickets are worth keeping, not only because it allows you to see a short film in the museum’s theatre (and apparently, it changes every so often) but because each one contains actual cel animation images from a Ghibli film.

My favourite room was definitely the room modelled after an animator’s room, although again, with a whimsical flair. It is two connecting rooms with desks and bookshelves, looking as if an artist was just there, adding the finishing touches to a movie background. The walls are literally covered in actual sketches and hand-drawn and coloured scenes from various Ghibli films. It also features some albums containing pictures or drawings of various things – scenes, plants, animals, etc – that helped inspire some aspects of the movies.

Anyway, even though I am an adult, I couldn’t help grinning the whole way through. I did stop at the cafe for a hot dog, juice, and banana ice cream (which actually tasted like real bananas and cream rather than the fake banana flavour I’m used to at home), and of course at the souvenir shop (where prices are a bit steep but, as it’s the end of my trip, I’m trying to burn through my leftover yen).

Clockwise from top-left: the signpost near the Ghibli Museum’s entrance. The Straw Hat Cafe. The robot statue (from the film “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”). The exterior of the museum.

Once I was sure I had seen everything, I left and returned to Asakusa to buy the last of the souvenirs. I certainly have a lot to take back home! Granted, half of it consists of snacks, haha!

And that’s it for today! All that’s left is to finish some laundry (I ran out of clean socks and underwear…), have dinner, and pack everything up. So sad I’m leaving tomorrow :(

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