Ghibli Museum

Yesterday I went on a trip to the Ghibli Museum, otherwise known as the Hayao Miyazaki Museum.  Hayao Miyazaki is the creator of many Japanese films, popular around the world, including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and so many more.  He is such a talented and amazing film maker that he has an entire museum dedicated to his movies and shorts.  All of the cultural programs we have here for the summer course program are done with a lottery, as the staff available can never handle many more than 30 students.  So far, I have been lucky enough to get into every event I have applied to, but I think this one was the most lucky I’ve been.  As many people know, I want to become a film maker, and even though I have not even started down the right path toward learning all that I need to learn, I hope to someday create something even a fraction as amazing as Miyazaki has been creating throughout my entire life.  I admit, I haven’t seen the vast majority of his movies, but My Neighbor Totoro was a part of my childhood.  Before I even knew what Japan was and that I would someday not only dream of learning the language and becoming immersed in the culture, but also experience a year at a Japanese college, I was addicted his Miyazaki’s work.  Kiki’s Delivery Service was also one of my favorite movies when I was younger.  So, though I never considered Miyazaki specifically to be an idol, his talents are so widespread, and his films so nostalgic to me, that visiting his museum really reinforced my dream of someday making someone happy through film (I want to create family films).
We took the bus to Mitaka Station (the next closest station to ICU) and then walked to the museum (about a 10 minute walk).  Had we taken a bus, it would have looked like this.  All of those symbols are distinctly recognizable from the credits of My Neighbor Totoro.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum, though I was able to sneak a little bit of footage, and I got plenty of pictures while outside.  The outside of the whole building was like looking in at a wonderland castle.

Walking up that staircase to get to the rooftop (roof pictures below) was incredibly scary.  There was an even worse spiral staircase inside (also discussed below), but both were really cool.
The very front “entrance,” though it’s not actually a working entrance.
Totoro greets you at the entrance in a model ticket booth.

The Totoro greeter up close.

We had to wait in a line to get in, where we saw another side of the building, and started realizing just how detailed this museum would be.  Even the overhangs to prevent sunburn while in line were Miyazaki film themed, with crests for a few of the films.

I had to zoom in really far on this one, so it didn’t turn out well, but this is one of the windows on the building (picture above).  All of the windows in the museum were stained glass with characters and scenes from his films.  Every little crevice had something hiding in it.  This corner of this window has a Totoro, if you can’t tell.

The main entrance sign.

I had to turn off my camera when I got inside, but the front ticket room had a huge mural on the ceiling of vines and greenery with mainly Totoro scenes and characters intertwined into it, but also some other scenes.  Like I mentioned, all of the windows had scenes from the films on them, and the doors were created this way, too.  There were drawings and such hanging on all the walls, where there wasn’t something painted straight on them.  When we entered we got a museum map and a little ticket that served as an entrance ticket to a short Miyazaki film they were showing every 15 minutes inside.  The film entrance ticket was especially amazing because it was a miniature film reel.  Everyone got a different set of 3 frames, from different movies.  Mine depicts the main character from Howl’s Moving Castle.  You can see it clearly when you hold it up to the light, just like a real film reel (punny, eh?).

This “Let’s Lose Our Way…” blurb is true.  The inside was a little bit maze-like, with staircases that led all over the place, including a nearly child sized compact spiral staircase that went up, up up, up, up all the way from the first floor, through the open air-space that joined all of the floors, to the fourth floor, bridges passing over each other in the middle of the open air-space, and doorways of all sizes (some unfairly dedicated to small children).  The secret garden-like atmosphere you immediately encountered when opening a door to the outside and going up to the roof also heavily enforced the losing yourself in nostalgia theme.

We were all hungry when we got there, so we each purchased a 600 yen hot dog (with daikon!), a 380 yen ice cream (I got raspberry, and man, was it hot out!), and an in-house made Ramune that was so carbonated that I had a hard time swallowing it.

Left to right: Kaya, Lynn, Victoria, I don’t really know him, Shelby, Me.

There were rooms for everything imaginable inside, from book rooms, to a replica of Miyazaki’s office, complete with walls coated in what seemed to be real sketches and paintings, to old fashioned film reels, to toys, figurines, life sized replicas and miniature replicas, of characters, scenes, etc, things to educate about film through the ages, a kid-sized cat bus (which was right by a door leading outside so I snapped a picture before someone could stop me) and an adult sized cat bus (my life was then complete), special effects themed replicas/diagrams (the one I managed to sneak a video of is a wheel with about 8 wooden sculptures that are a sequence creating a movement, and when the wheel spins really fast and a strobe light is put on it, it looks as if you’re just watching a short clip over and over again), a gift shop (obviously) and so so much more.  The roof was themed off of a movie I had never heard of before, but I now need to see.

On the roof, an awesome robot from a film I clearly need to look into.

I assume this is also from the robot movie.

We stayed until it was pretty much closed, and then headed back.  On the way home we stopped at a 7-11 and picked up some groceries.  I managed to find sets of 4 peaches for 300 yen!! (Expensive for America, cheap for Japan).
If you ever come to Japan this is definitely a place you need to check out.  I can only imagine what it would have been like if I had known of more of his movies, but even only knowing of a few and having seen even less, it was a real nostalgia trip.  And I recently read in a Cosmo that nostalgia is actually really healthy for your body to experience, so if you find it hard to go to the gym, go to Ghibli Museum instead!