So we arrived in Tokyo. We couldn't book into the hotel until 2pm but we would be arriving at about 11 and had a trip planned, a trip we had wanted to make for ages, A trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum. So in the previous week I had emailed the hotel to see if it would be possible to leave our bags there before check in time and get a move on to Studio Ghibli Museum as it was by subway over an hour away from where we were staying, Hotel Emailed back and no problem! Now the mission started to leave our hotel in Mount Fuji and hit Tokyo, we arrived at our destination station and the hotel website being organised even had a video on how to get to the hotel “Chiyoda Inn” from the station, I got lost. But have no fear I thought, The Japanese being lovely and friendly would help and indeed they did, well one lady actually in a cake shop, She didn't speak much English and my Japanese stretches as far as “hello” and thank you, But with my trusty map and a few straight on twice and turn left hand gestures we eventually found the hotel and I went in the wrong entrance, but all was sorted, bags dropped off then on to a local café for a quick coffee and a ham and cheese toasty and away we went with maps in hand and full faith in the Japanese folks to get us to our destination, as you can probably gather I used there help on countless occasions! The 1st tube ride was on, we chose the easiest station to get to and away we went……………
We arrived at Mitaka station and took the exit as advised by our lonely planet guide, which way now though, left or right? So we looked left and we saw what was the free shuttle bus that takes you to Ghibli, the queue was huge so we decided to walk, Be aware Ghibli in Japan is massive and if you do plan on going you have to book tickets well in advance and sometimes being organised and Japanese you even have to choose your time slot!, it was raining quite heavily but the walk was sheltered and It was a very nice walk. As you can see from the above pictures it’s very well sign posted so even I didn't get lost! And then we arrived…..
The first thing you see as you arrive is a massive Totoro standing inside a cubicle saying “open” with all the little cute sprites staring at you through a portal window!
As you approach the museum you a greeted by the lovely people on reception who point you in the direction of the entrance, unfortunately like most museums you can't take photo's inside but the outside looks great, from the moss covered walls to the spiral tower that leads up to the roof where the robot statue from laputa castle in the sky is as well as the command cube (Thanks to my friend Chloe for informing me what that was actually called!) . So you pick up your tickets and are given as part of the ticket a set of film cells in a strip which later on around the museum you can pop in a machine and it animates!
So we entered the museum and you are greeted with a huge open space all in wood, it basically looks like one of the many interiors of places within the studio Ghibli catalogue, The museum was designed and opened by the great Hayao Miyazaki and it shows. You wander around with loads of original clay models and designs from all the films but mainly My Neighbour Totoro , One part that was particularly stunning was a round glass case which had about thirty Totor’s and little girls skipping and bats flying all in slightly different poses, what happened then was that the glass case went dark and the whole thing started spinning with a strobe light kicking in, so the effect you got was the all were moving in front of your eyes, it was amazing!
Then you go up a flight of stairs and enter a stunning recreation of Hayao Miyazaki’s personal study, this was mostly behind rope bollards which was understandable as it featured a ton of his original artwork and story boards, the walls were also covered in his drawings, There was also huge bookshelf that featured many of the books that he says was an inspiration and a help to his work, Books such as Animal Anatomy, History of fighter planes, Walt Disney books and loads more, a real ecliptic mix.
We then walked around the top of the magnificent hall into the play area for kids where there is a huge cat bus again from Totoro, this was packed with small screaming Japanese children, it was deafening, didn't stay there long but it was great to see.
Although by this time it was raining and raining extremely heavy, we decided to brave the elements and make our way outside and up the spiral staircase to the roof and go find the Laputa Robot from Laputa castle in the sky. Not surprisingly when we got on the roof amidst the torrential rain there was no one up there except the towering robot, it was quite surreal after coming out of the manic and extremely busy hall to be on the roof and see the huge statue all alone in the torrential rain, a brilliant statue. There was also a tiny winding path through the roof garden that we then followed and it brought us to the command cube, It was positioned to give the impression that is was embedded within the roof, once again all brilliantly thought out.
Photos taken with Laputa and the command cube and the rain kept coming, time to head for the shop and spend some yen! The shop was rammed, the stuff was amazing. We walked around the best we could and picked a few bits and bobs up. By this point in the holiday were on our final leg so had to watch what we could by to cram into our backpacks without damaging it, There were some brilliant statues from all the films as well as some cheap bits so a great selection at various prices, The queue snaked out of the actual shop and around the top of the hall but being Japan it was incredibly organised and we soon got to the counter. They gave us our stuff in about 3 paper bags with Porco Rosso on them and because it was raining they even wrapped it in plastic so they didn't get wet!
We took a quick look at the coffee shop where they do coffee with Ghibli characters drawn on the top but that was so busy we decided to head on home. It was a great day to say the least, if a little wet. Like I said earlier Studio Ghibli in Japan is massive, Kind of like how Disney is in the states, The film Spirited Away is the highest grossing film ever in Japan, Even films like Avatar and Titanic didn't take as much as Spirited away so that gives you some indication of how popular the films are. With the latest Ghibli release of The Wind Rises which sadly will be Miyazaki’s final film it has opened to rave reviews. So even with his departure the talent that he has nurtured is still very much alive and long may it continue. We waved our final goodbyes at the gate to Totoro in his cubicle, Good Choice Totoro at least you stayed dry in there!