Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mitaka Ghibli Museum Review

My book review of A Geek in Japan reminded me that I wrote a review of Ghibli Musueum. Once, a long time ago (so about two years?) for another site. Unfortunately, I can't find that site (if you do know what site it is, please let me know!), but I did save a copy of the review. So here it is, enjoy! 

How many of you are Studio Ghibli fans? You know, the company that produced Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbour Totoro (among many other excellent films)? Well, if you are a fan, you have to make your way to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka at least once.


The view as I went into the museum. 
First things first: Tickets. After a botched attempt to buy tickets a week before Golden Week, my friends and I learnt our lesson and bought our tickets way in advance. I’ve heard that the guideline is to buy your tickets at least a month in advance.
Ticket bought from lawson
But even with a limited amount of tickets, the museum is still very crowded. The museum is basically built like a very (big) charming house and has a cozy feel to it. It consists of three levels and has exhibitions, a cinema, a small play area and of course, a gift shop and a cafe.

This staircase was cramped but still fun to climb!
When we arrived at the museum (we walked but there’s actually a bus from Mitaka station. Just follow the signs), we were greeted by none other than Totoro! It’s actually a sign of what the museum is like – fun with lots of attention paid to details.

Tickets please! 
Included in the ticket price is one movie screening at Saturn Theatre. The small movie theatre screens an original short film about 3 times an hour. When I was there, I watched a movie based on My Neighbour Totoro. It may be that the film caters to small children, but I found the Japanese to be very easy to understand, and anyway, you don’t actually need to understand Japanese to appreciate the movie (there aren’t any subtitles, unfortunately).

The exhibits are basically a behinds-the-look scenes at how a movie is made. There aren’t any rides, but the attention to detail is amazing. Be prepared though, to shuffle through the rooms in a line with many other people. Another exhibit (I’m not sure if it’s permanent) was one on fairytales, with lots of beautiful pictures of (mostly western) fairytales as well as a few translations of Andrew Lang’s fairytale books.

For younger children, there is the Cat Bus Room. The Cat Bus Room is basically a small play area consisting of a giant “Cat Bus” from the movie My Neighbour Totoro. Unfortunately, it’s only for those in elementary school and under so those young at heart (like me!) can’t play on it.

The gift shop is small and quite expensive. But there are some really lovely gifts there (like cookies and candies and shirts).

My favourite part of the museum were the small surprises that came from painstaking attention to detail. From the bathrooms that don’t look like bathrooms:
Isn't it adorable?

Seeing Chihiro and Haku (Spirited Away) on the stained glass:

My first, and fave Ghibli movie! 

“Doors” that appear at random places:



And coming across a pump that worked:


And of course, a window full of sootballs: 



They all add up to a magical experience.

Details:
Address: 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 1881-0013
Closest Station: Mitaka
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (Straw Hat Café is open from 11:00 – 19:00 but customers are not permitted to enter after 18:00), closed every Tuesday, Year-end and New Year’s holiday.
Price:           
Age 19 and over – 1000 yen,
Age 13-18 – 700 yen,
Age 7-12 – 400 yen,

Age 4-6 – 100 yen.