Immerse Yourself in the Works of Studio Ghibli at the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
The Worldwide Appeal of Studio Ghibli
In September 2021, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the largest-scale film museum in the U.S., opened in Los Angeles. Commemorating the opening of the museum was the Miyazaki Hayao exhibition, which was held until June 2022. During this period, the exhibition was visited by many Ghibli fans. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) was adapted into a play for the first time in its history by the prestigious U.K. theater company the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play run from October 2022 to January 2023 at the Barbican Theatre in London.
Since 2020, Studio Ghibli's animated feature films have also been offered on streaming services in countries throughout the world (excluding Japan and China). Available on platforms such as Netflix and HBO Max, this service is expected to bring in even more international fans.
Interest in Ghibli works has reached an all-time high in Japan as well, with the first-phase opening of Ghibli Park on November 1, 2022. The park, which is meant to embody the Ghibli "world" and atmosphere, is a part of Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park (Moricoro Park) in Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture. The other popular Studio Ghibli facility is the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, located in Mitaka City, Tokyo. The museum has been welcoming adoring fans, both children and adults alike, since it opened.
Designed to Blend into the Greenery of Inokashira Park
The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, located in the West section of Inokashira Park, opened in 2001—the same year that Spirited Away was released. The idea for the museum was proposed by director Miyazaki Hayao, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli.
Studio Ghibli had been looking for a place rich in nature—a place that would "fit" the atmosphere of its works—to build the museum. In the meantime, Mitaka City had come to an agreement with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to build a cultural facility in Inokashira Park. The timing was perfect, and it was decided that the museum would be built within the park.
Visitors as the Main Characters in a Story
The museum has been designed to make visitors feel like the main characters in a story. There is no detailed map of or predetermined route through the museum. The idea is that visitors should move freely within the space, mulling over their own thoughts and feelings in the process. Once past the entrance, visitors find themselves in the Central Hall, which evokes the atmosphere of the Bathhouse from Spirited Away. From that point onwards, they can let their curiosity guide the way, taking them to the spots they are most interested in, and allowing them to explore different ways to enjoy the museum.
Learn How Animated Works Are Made
The permanent exhibition on the first floor, "Where a Film Is Born," is made up of five small rooms. By walking through the rooms in order, visitors can learn about the process of producing an animated film, as well as the joy and struggle that this entails. The exhibition is designed to be enjoyed visually, with numerous displays that evoke Ghibli works, including character sketches, model planes, a violin, and more.
Encounter Ghibli's Cat Bus, Robot Soldier, and More
A particularly popular area is the rooftop, which features the robot soldier from Castle in the Sky(1986), and a room where visitors under the age of 12 can play with the Cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro. Photography is permitted in the rooftop, and many visitors take photos next to the robot soldier to commemorate their visit. The spot is particularly popular with foreign tourists. Further into the rooftop garden is the keystone that Muska from Castle in the Sky controlled using the volucite crystal.
The short film shown in the screening room, Saturn Theater, changes monthly. The storyboards, sketches, and other exhibits on display also change regularly, which means there is always something new and interesting to see. While overseas ticket sales are currently suspended, the love that international fans have for Studio Ghibli will undoubtedly remain strong. In fact, many of the donations that were made in the period from July 15, 2021 to January 31, 2022, when the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka had requested donations to support their operations, came from overseas. When international ticket sales resume, it is all but guaranteed that Ghibli fans from all over the world will again visit the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka.
Ghibli Museum, MitakaAddress: Inside Inokashira Park, 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. / Closes at 7:00 P.M. on weekends and holidays, and 6:00 P.M. in major holiday periods (entry permitted until two hours before the closing time for that day).
Closed: Tuesdays, with other additional temporary closures, long-term closures, etc.
Price: General admission fee 1,000 yen
*By advanced booking only, for designated dates/times. In Japan, tickets can be purchased through the Lawson Ticket website (tickets for the following month are made available for purchase on the 10th of every month, at 10:00 A.M.).
*Photography is not permitted in the museum in any area outside of the rooftop.
*Information on the content, prices, etc., of the facility is current as of October 19, 2022.
Photos by Tonomura Seiji
Translation by Amitt