A visit to Spirited Away creator's museum in Japan


(In July, I went on a family vacation to Japan. Here are my posts about the trip: Watermelons in the shape of cubes, hearts, and pyramids | What happened to the Burgie Beer UFO of Melrose Avenue?)

A couple of days after we arrived in Tokyo, we visited the Ghibli Museum. It's in a suburb of Tokyo (we had to take a train and then a bus to get there) and was designed by the famous animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service). The museums has exhibits about animation and Miyazaki's movies.

The museum isn't very large, but it's beautiful and packed with lots of interesting hands-on exhibits. Unfortunately, photography of the inside of the museum is not permitted. I did sneak one photo of a recreation of an animator's office:


Interestingly, none of the stuff was nailed or glued down, and you could walk all around the exhibit. Some people were even picking up the props and handling them. I can't imagine a museum like this in the United States — there would have been a glass wall to keep visitors from pilfering all the cool books, toys, props, and tools in the exhibits.

More photos and remarks after the jump.

Our tour guide led our family and about 10 other English speakers through the museum. She was very nice and a big Miyazaki fan.


She explained the significance of the emblem on the gate, but I forget what it is.


My favorite part of the museum was a 3D zoetrope of the characters from My Neighbor Totoro. It consists of a bunch of painted clay figurines arranged on a turntable. Each figure is slightly different from the one next to is, and when the table is rotated and illuminated with a strobe light, the resulting animation is magical – the figurines come alive.

You can watch a few videos of the Ghibli zoetrope on YouTube, but they aren't very clear. This Toy Story Pixar zoetrope is identical to the Ghibli zoetrope (except for the characters), and is much clearer:

This was some kind of monument with runes cuneiform stamped into it. I assume it's from a Ghibli movie I haven't seen.



The exterior of the building. It's not apparent here, but parts of it had a Gaudí vibe.



Sorry for the glare, but here's a giant Totoro and some dust motes near the entrance to the building.


Note the pump bottle of hand sterilizer in the photo below. I saw these all over Japan. They are concerned about the spread of bird flu. Jugs of hand sterilizer were much easier to find in Japan than public trash cans. Japan has launched a "take your garbage home" initiative, which means you are supposed to carry food wrappers and water bottles with you until you get home.