Ghibli Museum

Today we finally checked out the Ghibli Museum (wiki) in Mitaka. (I read many good things about it before) For those unfamiliar, Ghibli is the film studio that brought us many brilliant animated movies … and TV shows (Like ‘Heidi‘, which was one of my childhood favorites, maybe because Heidi’s friend is also a Peter) [now I am curious what the original / Japanese opening theme was {quick lookup on Youtube … it is equally annoying}, as in Germany it was a terrible song with lots of yodeling, but it is kinda stuck in everyones of my generation’s ears]

There are so many things I liked about the place and maybe we go back next holiday season.

The building alone is already a gem and according to wikipedia designed by Miyazki-san himself, with places like Calcata in Italy in mind. The whole theme of the museum is ‘Let’s get lost together’ … and it is very much so .. there is something to discover around every corner. Everything is hands on (i.e. books in the shelves in the recreation of the artists’ studio, feel free to take them out and look through them).

There is no designated route (although we saw some signs saying ‘route’) .. and besides a leaflet in English, there is no English otherwise. The very cute short film we got to see (only available in the cinema of the museum) was Chou-Zumo, which was a return to just a very cute, touching (and totally not sense making) story … instead of walking castles, shifting worlds, parents turn into pigs … well .. the other Miyazaki stuff.

One thing that initially annoyed me was the strict ‘no photography’ policy .. and while I saw many people still taking out their phones, I also saw staff employees reminding them very politely that it is forbidden.

In the end I thought it is a good decision … you do not want to run into people pointing their mobile phones at everything while you are trying to ‘get lost’ … (also there are enough youtube videos already)

Photos are only allowed outside and this fantastic robot statue is a very popular photo-point. (And it actually has an interesting back story, he (or a similar design) was in several other things before, like Lupin 3rd (TV episode ‘Farewell, beloved Lupin’) and then ended up in ‘Laputa, castle in the sky’) [check out Julius’ version]

Maybe one word of warning, the pretty much first room you will see has 2 fantastic zoetrope displays. But as also the information leaflet points out, it might not agree with you if you are in anyway light sensitive (i.e. epilepsy).

Overall it was a great experience and I could imagine going again, especially with Julius getting older (and he had no problems with the instructions for the kitten bus all in Japanese) .. next time we could just say ‘let’s meet here in 3 hours’ he knows enough Japanese to ask for help if needed. And for the grown-ups .. going through the sketch books is very cool. You feel like that this is real (i hope it was a copy), not a prop in a Disney display)

Which brings me to my final point … some reviews I read compared that to a trip to Disney … yes, ok .. Disney is a fun child friendly place to go when in Tokyo … but those places have as much in common as a supermarket and a dentist (ok, i am not saying which is which) … [that is actually a very unfair comparison … both places are great … just VERY different]

They are just very different places, there are no rides, it is all about finding out about the creative process of making stories and visualize it.

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