At the risk of appearing as though all I ever do is gallivant around Tokyo with my children and attend creative workshops (which is not at all the case, let me assure you), I want to share with you our recent trip to the magical Ghibli Museum (the official name - roughly translated - is Mitaka Forest Ghibli Museum), which is a museum for all of the works produced by Studio Ghibli. The building was designed by director Hayao Miyazaki (b. 1941).
For those of you who are not familiar with Hayao Miyazaki's films, I'll just list a few of the well-known ones using their English titles: My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) and the most recent one - The Wind Rises (2013). I have to admit that I had only seen two of these films before taking my children to the museum. Now that we have gone, I would like to see a few more. My children are not fans of fast-paced, action-packed shows or movies, and like many children their age, they are enamored of nature and fluffy animals, so I felt that Miyazaki films would be perfect for them.
The magic begins right outside of the museum where you are greeted by a large Totoro and some of the Dust Bunnies (my daughters' favorite).
My girls were excited to see that even the flag had Totoro on it. If you're wondering about the hawk, I believe it has to do with the name of the location "Mitaka" -- when translated literally, it means "three hawks." (There is also a room inside the museum dedicated to books and reading, called "TRI HAWKS."
When you go around the building to the actual entrance, you are handed a ticket that is made using real 35mm film prints. The ticket will give you access to the animated short in the theater inside the museum. And when you get inside, oh the fun!! All the little details inside the building are interesting; it's worth exploring every nook and cranny. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take photographs inside the building, so I will leave that for you to imagine/enjoy when you visit!
One of my daughters' favorite rooms was on the first floor where you can find the three-dimensional zoetrope "Bouncing Totoro." They were mesmerized by the lights and movement. I have to admit I was fascinated, too.
My favorite was the sequence of rooms dealing with "Where a Film is Born." You can see illustrations, sketches, and various other sources of inspiration for the films. The most popular room -- by far -- is up on the second floor: the play room with the ginormous Cat Bus and the Dust Bunnies. I was so tempted to jump on the Cat Bus with my girls, but unfortunately for me, it's only for elementary school-aged children and under, haha.
There's a little terrace area off the Cat Bus room, which has some "musical fish" and a little drinking fountain that entertained my daughters to no end.
The rooftop is pretty cool as well. You go up the steps from the terrace to find yourself nearly face-to-face (or should I say face-to-leg) with the five-meter-tall Robot Soldier, which is the guardian of the museum.
He is from Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) and I must say that he's pretty impressive from behind, too.
The garden setting for the robot is somehow fitting, and my girls enjoyed running around, though they seemed to be unimpressed by the Command Cube from the film. I guess we should have watched it first?
No trip to the museum is complete without an ice cream stop, so the girls polished off a cone each at the little museum cafe, and then washed up at the adorable cat sink. If you want to read a little more about the cafe, there's a nice post here.
Finally, when we were ready to go home, we got our things from the lockers downstairs, and the girls had a go at the old-fashioned water pump.
We had such fun that day and highly recommend going if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli movies. There's a little something for everyone, really. If I'd gotten my act together, I would have made a cute Mei-chan outfit (like I did for my friend's daughter at Halloween), or else a Totoro costume (the most amazing costume I've seen has got to be this one from you and mie; her tutorial for it is here). But alas, my girls just went in their regular Mommy-made clothes, heh heh.
You can see how to purchase your tickets here and here. And this cute little map will tell you how to get to the museum. There is so much to see inside the building that I would recommend you try to schedule your reservation for the morning entry while you still have lots of energy! Please be advised that the museum is currently closed for periodic maintenance until July 15, 2016, so keep that in mind when making your travel plans!
Thanks for reading and sayonara 'till next time!