It’s a whole new, imaginary and creative world in Ghibli (pronounced Jibli) Museum here in Mitaka, a western city of Tokyo. The Museum is dedicated to the art and technique of animation. It honors the work of Hayao Miyazaki, Japan’s very popular and celebrated animator, storyteller and film director. His work and those others who co-founded Ghibli Studios. One major confession. I didn’t know Miyazaki from Adam. Nor of Ghibli Studios. Much more of Ghibli Museum designed by newly-retired (2014) Miyazaki himself. And it’s been around since 2001!
There was a line of about 60 pax eager to enter this art and animation museum. And that’s not counting the toddlers and babies. Tickets can be bought online where one chooses a time slot to visit this Art and Technology Museum cum Children’s Museum cum Animé Studios. Despite this crowd control measure, it was still crowded when we got here. We saw at least one bus load of young pupils in their cute-sy blue uniforms and white hats walking in pairs. The Museum Store was doing brisk business while we were there. Since photography wasn’t allowed inside, everyone seems to want to bring home some souvenirs of this little charmer of a museum.
To get here, we took the JR line to Mitaka Station, and then a short yellow bus ride directly to the corner where the Museum stands. It is right by Inokashira Park. The Museum presents a very colorful, artsy, vibrant place. Think Totoro. Think animé. And the Museum’s slogan “Let’s get lost together” is more than apt. There’s a spiral staircase, rooftop garden, cafe, bookstore and replica of Studio Ghibli’s many animé characters. Fascinating. Even for seniors like moí who hasn’t heard of “My Neighbor Totoro” which was created, filmed and made popular since 1988.
The cafe had a long queue so we headed for the hot dog and fries stand instead. The adults here looked hungrier than the kids who seemed to be all bouncing with energy. You hear them kids shriek with delight in the Museum Cinema where I finally watched and admired a Miyazaki film. No words were necessary to understand the film’s attempt to educate, inspire and entertain both young and old. Miyazaki is a genius!
I’m a fan now. And I promise to pay more attention watching animé. Perhaps I’d even dig up the old animé films and check out Totoro, Monmon, the Egg Princess, the Cat Bus, Kiki (no typo errors here 😜) to honor these Japanese animators. Eight of Ghibli’s animé films rank among the 15 highest-grossing animé films ever made in Japan. Among the most popular is “Spirited Away”(2001) which grossed over US$290 million worldwide. It also earned many Academy Award nominations and actually received awards (Oscars no less) in the USA for its animated feature films. Now that Miyazaki is retired, I wonder if he’d come a-visiting this museum to see for himself how delighted these visiting children (and adults) are. While watching one of his animated films in the theater here, I was pleasantly distracted by the chorus of delighted shrieks from the children including one of the under-1 y.o. babies. I was just as fascinated but was too old to express my delight. 😂😂😂