Crashing Japan
Ghibli Museum

by Bamboo Dong, Sep 22nd 2007

Located in the idyllic suburb of Mitaka, the Ghibli Museum is one place that all anime fans should see at one point. Its exhibits are delightful to both children and adults alike, and show just how fine of an art anime can be.

Visitors wanting to see the museum must purchase their tickets in advance from Lawson convenience stores. Luckily, because it's becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors, a certain number of tickets are set aside for each operating day, and can be purchased through travel agencies like JTB. At only 1000JPY a ticket, it's a great deal.

The museum is about a 20 minute walk from Mitaka station. For those who aren't feeling up for the walk, there's a bus that runs to and from the museum that charges 200JPY for a one-way ticket, and 300JPY for roundtrip. If you do decide to take the walk, though, you'll be led behind a quiet neighborhood, with the trip culminating at one of the museum entrances, this one guarded by a giant plush Totoro.

The actual museum is designed in a very whimsical manner. With two spiral staircases (one inside the building that allows for an alternative access between floors, and one that leads to a rooftop sculpture garden) and plenty of arched doorways, the building is as kid-friendly as it is beautiful. Inside its confines, though, is where the magic happens.

An animation exhibit is the first thing you see on your right when you walk through the entrance, with displays that show different methods of animation and perspective. The centerpiece is a stroboscope that is used to bring various clay models to life. The display slows to a stop every half a minute or so, allowing viewers to see the different models that are used to denote each step of animation, and then speeds up again.

Also in the museum is an exhibit designed to look like an animation studio, with various stations showing different stages of production, like character design, storyboarding, and key frame drawing. Particularly interesting are the mounds of reference books and collections full of primary source material, something that really lets visitors know just how much research goes into each aspect of animation.

The museum also contains a temporary exhibit devoted to other works of animation and art. Presently, it showcases models of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, based on a picture book by Tolstoy. Other special exhibits include the chance to see a 20minute Ghibli short, with only one visit allowed per visitor.

Both educational and magical, the Ghibli Museum is something that shouldn't be missed. Whether you're a fan of the studio, or just animation in general, this place is well worth a trip to Tokyo.

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